Top 10 Things that will ruin your vacation and ways to recover it.
.What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you when you were traveling? Today I’m going to talk about the ten common things that can make or break your travel as well as, ways you can deal with them when you’re already on the road.
When I was doing my ‘Best and worst travel moments of 2016 ‘ video, I realized I encountered a fair amount of worst case scenarios for a traveler. It’s not because I’m accident prone or unlucky, but the more you travel, the odds are greater that you’ll encounter some of these scenarios.
Being a female solo traveler, experiencing worst-case scenarios can royally suck. But I try to focus on the adventure. Bad things help us appreciate the good and it makes for a good travel story.
Spontaneous imperfection & the opportunity
Now I get it, for many of us there is no “do over”. This is probably the first and last time you’ll be traveling that country and you’ve saved a lot of money getting yourself there. You feel compelled to make every moment count.
I also see worst case scenarios as like a two sided coin, testing the metal you’re made of. On one side, you have certain defeat. But on the other side, you have a mystery and an opportunity to be the hero or heroine of your travel story. Much like an athlete you can survive the obstacle and overcome it, lending to a greater travel confidence.
The outcome is shaped whether you’ll react to the situation or respond to it. A reactor has things done to them; they live in bit of a victim mode. A responder turns the situation around so that they’re in charge of the final outcome. They’re not satisfied with letting the world or bad people define their experiences.
Top 10 things that will ruin your vacation and ways to recover it
This is usually ranked the top of worst and most feared travel experiences. You feel violated, alone and like you’ve been punched in the stomach. It certainly can color your experience of a country.
- Leave valuables at home
- Keep a carnet (a carnet is a single form that lists all items a photographer would be traveling with, it proves ownership and eliminates the need to pay taxes and deal with U.S. customs agents). I travel with a copy of my gear list (inclusive of serial numbers) for both insurance in the case I need to file a report with the police and my insurance company.
- File a Police report. While the police may not apprehend the criminal, you might be able to get some reimbursement from your travel insurance company.
- Keep all your information and these documents for your insurance to deal with.
2. Getting Sick
Travel insurance is always a good precaution. (I like to use World Nomads. They handle Americans and cover over 150 countries.)
See a travel doctor before your trip, so he can diagnose common ailments of the country, travel shots and medicines to take. I always pack an antidiarrheal & Cipro in my first aid kit.
- Especially for solo travelers: Notify your hotel or guesthouse so they know you’re sick and are more likely to help you. They can direct you to the pharmacy or hospital.
- If the virus or bug doesn’t work itself out within a few days, I go to the hospital, without question.
3. Getting Scammed
No one likes being scammed. In my Bangkok Taxi Scams video I occasionally get mean comments from male viewers who side with the taxi driver who was trying to scam me. Their response was appalling because it sounded similar to those who defend rapists. Getting scammed is exactly the same thing as someone stealing from you, with the exception, there’s manipulation, a power play, trickery, they take advantage of your naivete; and sometimes, they can even use bullying to pose a dangerous threat.
- Trust your gut and intuition. If someone or a situation doesn’t feel right, excuse yourself immediately, unemotionally and walk away. Being a female soloist, my reliance upon gut and intuition has grown to point my psychic abilities are stronger.
- I wrote a post on how to deal with scams if you want more tips.
4. What type of tourist visa should you get?
Whether or not you have a paid flight ticket, had your agent book a flight for you or have proof of onward travel, you will need to have a visa if a country requires it. Even if you’re merely passing through it in order to get to another country.
- Always check the visa requirements of the country you’re traveling to. Some countries offer visa on arrival ( you can apply and pay for a visa when you arrive), some cities/countries offer transit visas if you just have a layover in them, but most have an application process, which requires you filling out an application and taking it and your passport to an embassy.
- Beware of “transit’ layovers. If you have a layover, make sure you don’t need a visa in that city or country. Before people assumed that if they had a paid flight ticket to Nepal and could prove onward travel, they would not need a transit visa in India for their layover or connecting flight. They were wrong and were sent back home, without having ever landed in Nepal. I’m not sure if the regulations in India have changed. But beware that the country you’re laying over in, doesn’t require a visa.
5. Missed your plane
You don’t know how many times I’ve had to haul ass past TSA, down the hallway to gates spread far apart, just to arrive- sweat drenched- in time for the final call of boarding. Some people like to push their chances, by arriving at the airport one hour before takeoff. Other times, it can’t be helped if your bus or taxi gets stuck in traffic.
- For international flights, always make sure you’re at the airport 3 hours in advance. Domestic travel requires you arrive 2 hours in advance. But be aware, the gate can close anywhere from 30-45 minutes before takeoff.
- If you miss your flight, see if that airlines ticket counter can reschedule you. If you’re lucky, you might just have to pay a change fee and wait on standby for the next available flight.
- If your flight has been delayed or arrives late and many passengers have to reschedule flights, use your mobile phone to connect with the airport WiFi to check flight schedules as you stand in the airlines’ ticket booking line.
- You might have to buy another ticket and risk a longer layover, which can result in a night or two in that city. See my layover guide.
- My favorite site for airport layovers: www.sleepinginairports.com
6. Bad Weather
There are times I feel like I travel with a raincloud over me. It can spoil a trip. Bad weather can be anything from experiencing a rainy day, a storm or god forbid, more.
- Try your best to check in advance the weather conditions. For reasons which deal mostly with clothes packing, I always check weather statistics anywhere from a week to a month or two, depending upon my time in that country.
- I always pack a raincoat and cheap rain poncho, which I stash in my day pack. So should bad weather hit and you’re unprepared.
- Revert to indoor activities, galleries, museums, concerts, even checking out shopping malls and grocery stores, etc…
- In some cases, you might get held up for an extra day or a few. You can stay at a hotel or research airport facility options. Sleep in the airport, some have sleeping capsules, lounges or check out inexpensive accommodation options nearby. Here’s another airport layover guide.
- Check part one of my 42 Things- I share how creative some of my accommodations have gotten for the sake of budget.
7. Your Credit Card /Debit Card is Flagged
Have you ever gotten your credit or debit card flagged abroad? I’m always traveling to cash-based countries, that don’t take credit cards, so I’m reliant upon my debit/ATM cards and due to my bank’s tightened security, I’m constantly getting them flagged.
- Notify your bank and credit card company of your travel itinerary and the countries you’ll be in.
- Always bring cash as backup (which you can change at a money exchange at the airport) and a couple of ATM/ Credit cards in the case one doesn’t work.
- Prepaid credit cards- certain sum already on your card. Mostly in the Australia.
- Be aware: If you’re booking accommodations and flights from the road, you might get flagged if the service provider (airlines carrier, accommodations booking site, etc…) is located in a country, which you have not listed on your travel itinerary. For example, I was traveling between Greece and Turkey and I was making last minute arrangements for a hostel through Hostelworld. Hostelworld is actually located in Ireland, so my bank card was immediately flagged as my bank saw me making transactions in Ireland.
8. Stuck on a bad tour
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about being stuck on a bad day tour with a guide that does not speak your language well. But for longer tour durations, you might be able to get off your tour. <– Tips to How I Negotiated my way out of a Delhi Scam tour
- Check the tour contract states on trip cancellations.
- Know you probably won’t get the majority of your money back.
- Sometimes, parts of your tour are refundable or can be pro-rated based on the amount of time you’ve been with them and the level of discontent you’re experiencing.
- If you are allowed to cancel or leave your tour, be prepared to wing your trip or scramble to make new bookings and plans.
9. Equipment Breakdowns
Luggage, cameras, laptops, shoes…. what happens when something primary to your travels breaks on the road?
- Don’t take anything that you know will break soon, unless you’re prepared to spend your time shopping in that country.
- Invest in gaffer tape or duct tape, and bring some with you. I like to wrap some gaffer tape around a pen.
- Technology is the hardest to repair or replace on the road. Bring backup cables, chargers or secondary items if you think your tech gear might fail. I know my cameras have a way of failing on me when i travel so these days, I always pack an extra camera.
- Don’t assume there’s a Mac or PC store. If you do find one, know a proper repair through a main manufacturer (ie. Canon) might take a week. Smaller certified or third party repair shops might be able to repair things in a day. Keep in mind: using un-certified third party dealers or parts might disqualify your manufacturer’s warranty!
10. Packing Mishaps
Despite how well you aspire to pack, I feel like it’s a given that travelers forget something.
- Important documents like a passport is something you don’t want to forget. Period. Thus, I always make extra copies of my important documents, stash them in different parts of my bags and I’ll even send myself pdf versions to my phone, so I have them on hand. Obviously, never take identity or financial information with you, like social security cards, bank account numbers and pins.
- I like to use Google docs to store more personal and private information.
- Other things like toiletries and clothes, you can easily buy when you arrive and it will give you an opportunity to shop those as souvenirs.