Many travellers don't consider helpful tips for surviving travel emergencies until they're in trouble. How organized are you when it comes to vacations? Whether you book months in advance or like to take advantage of late-deal offers, most people are organized enough to make sure nothing goes wrong between leaving home and getting to your destination. But what about any travel emergencies after that? Whether it’s a weather disaster or a political nightmare, here’s the only tips on surviving travel problems that you’ll ever need.
1. Travel Insurance
So this one sounds obvious, but a recent survey showed that over 60% of travellers had no insurance – and rates are high even among travellers doing dangerous sports such as skiing. Good insurance will cover a variety of situations and travel emergencies, including missing or cancelled flights, accommodation issues, lost luggage and getting you home. It’ll also provide medical coverage if you need treatment abroad, costs of getting you home if your plans have to change and some even cover the costs of the people you are travelling with too. You can get great rates by searching around, and almost everyone can get insurance, even if you’ve got pre-existing conditions. Don’t leave home without it!
2. Keep Back-Ups
How many times do you check whether you’ve got your passports, ID and travel documents before you leave? Plenty, I bet. Being abroad without these can quickly turn a relaxing break into a complete nightmare! Avoid issues by keeping a back-up of those important documents online. Scan your passport, insurance information, tickets and credit card details and keep them in secure locations such as DropBox. A document with emergency contact numbers is a great addition, too. These are essential tips for surviving travel emergencies when you're far from home.
3. Take Advice – Well
There is nothing worse than being on holiday and getting instructions that mess up your plans – but holiday destinations won’t offer guidance if they don’t need you to follow it. If you are told to stay inside, find something to entertain yourself with and don’t be tempted to sneak out. We were abroad in a massive storm once, and the man next door insisted on jumping out of a ground floor window to get some "breaking news" snaps of the storm and broken road. He fell and broke his leg – spending the rest of his holiday in hospital. It could have been much worse, too. Follow the advice of the hotel, your government and your travel agent, and sort out any issues afterwards.
4. Keep Your Relatives up to Date – but Don’t Be Greedy
If you are stuck inside, or involved in a scary situation, you are likely either to forget to call home at all, or to spend most of your time trying to get through. In crisis situations, networks often struggle. Send a text to your relatives back home telling people that you are safe – and giving any vital information such as hotel changes. Travel emergencies often increase the pressure on emergency services, so keeping the network free has definite benefits!
5. Track Expenses
If your plans change – such as having to stay an extra night due to flight cancellations, or emergencies diverting your plane to another airport, or even just long delays, make sure you keep track of expenses. Get receipts for refreshments and meals, taxis, and extra stays. You can even keep receipts for other costs, such as vital phone calls. You can use these to make a claim from your insurance when you get home, making sure that you aren’t further out of pocket. When you add them all together, it can be quite a cost, making this one of the most important tips for surviving travel emergencies if you want your money back.
6. Stay in Touch with Your Agent
Make sure you stay up to date on what the latest plans are. If you booked through a travel agent, contact them regularly to get an update. If you booked individually, phone the airline. Both should offer advice and guidance, and staying in regular contact will ensure you can get home (or back to your holiday plans!) as soon as possible.
7. Find Your Embassy
The US Embassy can offer a lot more support than most people realize. They should be your first port of call if you lose your passport, or if you cannot access money in the US. Consular officers are trained in contacting family, banks, employers and friends and setting up a transfer of funds to stop you from becoming destitute. They can help with plenty of others things, too.
8. Know Your Rights
Make sure you know what you are entitled to! If your flight is an EU based flight, for example, or if it departs from an EU country, and it’s delayed by over five hours, you are entitled to cancel for a full refund on your ticket cost or re-book onto another flight. If you booked your holiday through an ATOL-registered agent, they are responsible for covering any additional travel costs.
9. Stay Calm
There are very few situations where exploding into a stress-ball will help. Trust me, I’ve tried it! Try to stay calm and productive. If you’ve got time, jump into a hot shower and let yourself relax while your brain processes the information. If not, take a few minutes to re-center yourself – either through visualisations or something like singing loudly. Once you’ve got rid of the stress, you’ll find the situation much easier to deal with.
Hopefully you’ll never need to use these tips for surviving travel emergencies, but if the worst happens, it helps immensely to be prepared! Some of my best adventures have started from nightmare situations, so stay calm, focused and in control, and take everything as it comes. Hopefully, you’ll be home in no time. Have you got a travelling tip? I’d love to hear it!
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