Sunday, 15 December 2013

Handling difficult situations while traveling

Although travel can be an exciting and learning experience there are sometimes difficult situations that can happen to anyone while away from home.  I am sure that everyone has experienced at least one mishap while on vacation.  Mishaps can be anything from falling ill, injuring oneself, theft, a missed connection, or even worse crime.

At first the situation may seem daunting and one may become upset, uptight, or start to panic.  The best thing is to calm down and think the situation through in order to resolve it and still be able to enjoy the rest of your holiday.  You can also learn from each mishap to either prevent it from happening again, if possible, or better deal with it if it is out of one’s control.

I will provide several examples of difficult situations that can befall a traveler and how they can best be handled or resolved and the lesson that one can learn.

What would happen if you arrived at the airport and suddenly found out that you left your passport at home?  If you do not live too far from the airport and there is still plenty of time before your flight leaves an option would be to return home and retrieve the passport.  Even if you live a distance away you can still attempt to return home and take a chance.  If you end up missing the flight you can always book yourself on another one though it may not be at your convenience.  If you wish you could speak with an official there and see if an alternate solution could be presented with other possible sources of identification or anything else which they may deem legitimate.  The lesson to be learned is to make sure the night before that you have everything you need.  Go through every room, cabinet, and drawer at home to make sure that nothing is forgotten.  Also make a list and start to pack everything a week prior in case you remember something later on.  Put essential items like your passport, papers, medications, etc in your carry on bag and keep everything together near the front door.

Many travelers have been mugged or robbed of all their cash, credit cards, or identification while abroad.  The first thing to do is to cancel all your credit and ATM cards.  Find the nearest police station or telephone the police to report the offense.  Also let them know at your accommodations so they can provide assistance as well.  Call someone from home and have them wire you some money for the rest of your stay.  If your passport is amongst the stolen items go to the embassy of your home country so they can help you out.  For the future carry all essentials in a money belt or neck pouch or keep it in the safe or front desk of your hotel.  Make sure to photocopy your passport and keep a couple of copies with you in different places, give one to someone you know, and keep one at home.

Plenty of people have had their checked luggage misplaced upon arrival at their destination.  Go immediately to the claims office to report it and describe in as much detail as possible the contents of the baggage and the suitcase itself.  What often happens is that the luggage is found a couple of days later and then sent to their hotel or home whatever the case may be.  It is not as unpleasant if one’s luggage is lost on their way home because at least they have their other clothes plus the comforts of being in their own territory.  However, if it happens at the beginning of the trip it can be unpleasant and one is forced to either shop for new clothes or to wash and wear the same clothes every day.  There are a few solutions that exist to either better deal with it or prevent it from happening.  You can take two smaller bags and carry them both on the plane in order to prevent lost luggage.  If that is not possible then in your carry on pack a couple of pairs of undergarments and a jersey or two and anything else you may need so that you have a few things to live on should your luggage get lost. Also take a couple of pictures of the bag you are checking so that you can give them to the claims officers in order to help them locate your bag.  In the event that your luggage is not found do your best to enjoy the holiday and activities that you partake in and take it all in stride with good humor.

There have been people who have had accidents and have broken or sprained something.  First thing to do is to get to a clinic or hospital if it is serious or put some ice on the injured spot.  Do your best not to use that part of your body and either rest at your hotel or partake in activities where you can stay off your feet or not use your arms like driving or doing a bus tour around the city.  Another option is to cut your vacation short if it is really serious.  Always pay attention when walking or doing sports and also make sure that you have good walking shoes so that you do not suffer similar mishaps.  Another important issue is to make sure that you get the proper travel insurance before you leave on your trip or else you may end up paying huge sums of money for any medical costs incurred abroad.

There are many instances where connections have been missed due to miscommunication, lack of a wake up call, or an alarm clock not going off.  Missed connections could occur with a flight, train, bus, or shuttle. It is best to call the flight carrier, bus or train company to arrange for an alternate connection.  You could also go directly to the airport or station to see if you can change your ticket.  Once you have rearranged everything if you have plenty of time before your alternate departure see if you can visit a museum or site so that you can still enjoy the day.   Before you leave for your trip, ensure that your alarm clock is in working order and have a second set of batteries.  At the hotel you can ask for a wake up call and set your alarm so that you are doubly protected.  If you make the reservation by phone make sure you double check the information and write it down clearly so you have the evidence in case the miscommunication was their fault.

Another unpleasant situation is falling severely ill with influenza or severe diarrhea.  Go to a clinic or doctor for treatment.  If necessary, cancel your plans for the day, rest or sleep, watch your diet, and follow the doctor’s recommendations in the hopes that you could go out the next day.   For diarrhea drink lots of water and gaterade to avoid dehydration and eat dry crackers or toast.  Pick up some cold medication and diarrhea tablets from your pharmacy beforehand to take along with you and take them upon onset of symptoms.  Before your trip it is a good idea to get as much rest as possible and eat properly the week or two before so you can be strong and immune to possible bugs.  If you have the budget get a private room and bath so that you do not come in contact with others who may be carrying germs.

As a final note do your best to stay positive and find other ways of enjoying your vacation whether it is going along with your original itinerary or having to make alternate plans that are just as enjoyable.  In the unfortunate event that you do have to cut your vacation short focus on the time that you did enjoy and tell yourself that there will be plenty of other wonderful vacations that you can enjoy without any ado.  Also make sure you learn from each situation so that it can be possibly avoided on future trips.

In my next blog I will be sharing with you how I handled different situations that I encountered on my travels.  Have any of you experienced anything and how did you deal with it?

 Atop the Sun Pyramid in the ruins of Teotihuacan just outside of Mexico City, Mexico


In the jungles of The Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica

The spectacular Tracy Arm Fjord in Alaska, US

The expansive Plaza Mayor in Madrid, Spain

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