You’ve planned the trip, booked flights & accommodation and you’re counting down the days till you’ll be there, relaxing and adventuring.
But there is a small voice in your head saying ‘What if…?”.
We often ignore these voices and say that it will never happen to us, and we hope it never does! But it pays to be prepared, to know what to do when things go wrong.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for your time away and make it an enjoyable trip.
You may be one of the lucky ones who has never had an airline lose their luggage. But ask around and you’ll soon learn that it’s a very common occurrence.
Suggestions: You should never check in any items you cannot go 24 hours without. Pack valuables like jewellery, memory sticks, hard drives, electronics a change of underwear into your carry on and only check in things like clothing and toiletries that are replaceable - albeit inconvenient - if you lose them.
Take a photo of everything you’ve brought with you before packing. Accompany this with a packing list and if you bag goes missing, you know exactly what is inside and makes it easier to re-buy and claim back on travel insurance (with proof).
American Express Platinum Charge has a “Luggage delay checked on Scheduled Flight” coverage:
“If during a Trip, your accompanying luggage checked on the Scheduled Flight is not delivered within six (6) hours of your arrival at the scheduled destination point of your flight, we will reimburse you for the emergency purchase of essential clothing and toiletries up to $700 incurred at such scheduled destination.”
Invest in a luggage tag which can track your bags wherever they are!
Cancellations & Delays
Another common issue that can occur are delay and flight cancellations.
Suggestions: Jessica from World of Wanderlust says:
“It’s good to know your rights before this happens to you, as even without travel insurance an airline is liable to cover your hotel and food costs until a replacement flight becomes available. Just be sure to keep your receipts!
There are many apps available now for last minute hotel bookings, the one I use the most is HotelQuickly.
Each credit card is different but some of the premium ones have strict definitions. The American Express Platinum card will pay up to $700 for a hotel if your flight is delayed by only 4 hours. Worth quoting and linking to some insurance policies here.
Missing your departure
There are some times in life where nothing seems to go your way and you’re just running late and miss your transport. Keep calm and just know that sometimes these things happen and are out of your control. You can always contact them and ask about re-booking you, explain the circumstances and see if you can get by without additional fees.
However there are those times when it’s simply not your fault and you miss a connecting flight due to bad weather at another destination.
Suggestions: Very recently a friend of mine had booked a flight to Bangkok but due to circumstances out of his control, missed the flight. Unfortunately due to the nature of the ticket they were not able to re-book onto the next flight for free and had to pay (last-minute full-fare) fee for the next flight.
Your travel insurance will cover any additional hotel and food costs - hold onto your receipts!
Lost Travel Documents
Namely, your passport!
You can’t go anywhere overseas without it but once you’ve get there if you lose it life becomes much more stressful. The processes differ for each country but in most cases you will need to contact your embassy who will likely provide you with temporary documentation allowing you to return home.
Suggestions: To make it easier on yourself either have a photocopy of all of your travel documentation and have a copy with you and one with someone back home in case of these emergencies like these.
Otherwise keep an offline scanned electronic copy with you and the processing time will be a lot shorter.
First call should be the travel insurance company (or credit card). Why? They will often provide you with emergency funds to ensure you get to the embassy safely. Sometimes it’s not close by and may require private transport to avoid dangerous situations when you can’t prove your identity. It’s technically illegal to be in a country and not be able to prove your identity. They most likely will arrest you until the matter is sorted.
As you’d think the most common places are where your attention is otherwise diverted: public transport, tourist attractions and large crowds.
Suggestions: To prepare make sure you don’t have any easily accessible sections of your bag behind you where you can’t see, seal all bag openings & don’t keep valuables in your pockets.
Take a photo of all of your belongings before you pack them and if anything gets stolen you can present this to your travel insurance provider to claim back on these stolen items.
Create a plan of ‘what if’ in these situations. If you lose your wallet, follow these steps. If you lose your phone, follow these steps. When it’s committed to memory, there is no need to carry it around but for first-time travellers, I’d suggest printing this out and keeping it in your pocket. The list is there to not add panic to the situation.
I’m sure we’ve all travelled without medical travel insurance and thankfully most of us will have been just fine. But it’s easy to slip into a state of comfort regarding potential medical expenses until something does happen (particularly if you’ve travelled for snow season and are involved in winter sports) and then the bills pile up.
Suggestions: Organise some travel insurance, even if it’s not comprehensive, so you won’t have such a large burden if something happens.
Carefully check the policies and make notes on conditions.
If you do get hurt make sure to contact your travel insurance provider straight away.
Add a link to a more comprehensive article about ‘how to choose travel insurance’
While this is largely out of your control there are things you can do to prepare.
Suggestions: Monitor the weather starting a few weeks prior to your trip and turn on alerts for unusual weather at your destination. Listen to recommendations from authorities and delay your trip if needed.
If you’re already at your destination and haven’t left, you can contact the airline as well as your embassy for help on getting home safely. Its also a good idea to contact your travel insurer to get started on any claims needed for additional airline or hotel fees as these things can take a long time.
Most travel insurance policies have guidelines on this. Sometimes they will pay for your trip to be rebooked if it is declared unsafe. Other times they will void all cover if you enter into an already known unsafe area. Best to pull out some clauses here and reference them.
Another aspect of travel that is out of your control!
Do the same, monitor the situation prior to your travel dates and avoid going to places with political unrest building.
Suggestions: Be wary of the media as Jessica from World Of Wanderlust says:
“Also don’t just be led to believe (thanks to the media) that if there is fighting “in Egypt” that the WHOLE of Egypt is unsafe. More often than not, the unrest or violence is constricted to a small area.”
If you have concerns contact your travel insurance provider and change your travel plans to another destination you’ve always wanted to visit. You can always revisit your plans at a later stage.
If you’re already at the destination and are having concerns contact your airline to organise a flight as soon as possible to leave. Also contact your insurance provider to get started in any claims as these can take a while to process.