For many of us, the word “travel” conjures up images of adventure and excitement. We imagine ourselves jetting off into the sunset to some far-off destination with our best mates (or alone!) for a relaxing getaway. The anticipation and enjoyment of all the fun that comes along with our travels often make our trips abroad an optimal time to destress and unplug from the day-to-day hassles of everyday life.
Nonetheless, we can sometimes find ourselves in situations that end up being more stressful than we ever imagined. In these instances, all we feel like doing is letting out a string of expletives because what just happened?!
Here are some things that send travellers into serious panic-mode!
You’ve lost your passport
Despite how much you’re enjoying yourself right now, you don’t exactly intend to stay in this country forever. Slipping your hand into a familiar pocket or bag only to discover that your passport is not there is one of the most panic-inducing feelings a traveller can experience.
Losing your passport (or having it stolen) doesn’t just make it difficult to check into hotels or exchange currencies, it also renders you without your most important international identification document necessary for getting you home.
Some people prefer to carry their passport on their person when out and about while others choose to leave it in the hotel room. Whatever you decide to do comes down to personal preference, but always have backups and photocopies of all your essential documents on hand. Contact your country’s embassy immediately for assistance. If you need a new passport urgently, the process can usually be hastened, although additional fees will likely apply.
Your luggage is overweight
So you haven’t even boarded the plane, and you’re already having issues. Seeing your overweight baggage tip over the scales at the check-in counter is one of the most annoying things a traveller can encounter. Overweight baggage charges can often be astronomical depending on the airlines and how much you’ve exceeded the limit.
If the excess weight is minimal, you can avoid these charges by layering up. Yes, it will be uncomfortable, but the alternative of paying hundreds of dollars sounds worse. Swap out your heaviest coat and bulkiest shoes. You can also try transferring some of the weight to your handheld luggage.
If you don’t have one, buy a cheap bag from one of the airport stores and start transferring your heavier items. If you’re travelling in a group, some of your travel buddies might also have extra baggage space you can hitch a few things onto for the trip.
You’ve lost your luggage
If you’re only going abroad for a weekend or a few days, consider not packing a check-in suitcase at all. Travelling light does have its benefits, and not having to deal with the possibility of airlines misplacing your baggage is one of them. In such situations, go to your airline’s counter and submit a report for your lost luggage, and also file a claim for compensation at the same time. Some airports might have general “Lost and Found” counters instead.
Know your rights and the remedial services you are entitled. Contact your travel insurance company if your insurance covers baggage loss. You should always pack money, important documents, valuable items and medication (including prescription letters) and other health-essentials in your carry-on bag. You might also want to consider packing at least another day’s outfit or at least a spare jacket or t-shirt.
You’ve been robbed
In areas with heavy tourist-traffic, getting robbed is, unfortunately, more common than you might think. Your belongings might be stolen through simple pick-pocketing or, in more violent scenarios, by force. While there is no one utterly crime-free city on Earth, here is what you can do in the unfortunate event that you have been robbed.
If a robbery puts you at physical risk, your life should always come before your valuables. See to your self that you’ve not been harmed in any way. If you need medical assistance, get someone to call an ambulance for you. Make it a priority to file a police report. Even if the local police might not be much help, at least there will be legal documentation that you can use as proof with your travel insurance provider.
If your passport has been stolen, make a trip to your local embassy for help. Additionally, call your bank to suspend your credit and debit cards immediately. This is assuming your phone hasn’t been stolen as well. If it has, try to get someone to make a call to the police station or someone who can help (like your hotel or embassy for example).
You’re caught in a natural disaster
Natural disasters are termed as such because they are inevitable affairs. While you can try to schedule your trip so that it does not coincide with certain season, there is not much you can do when you find yourself in the midst of a city on alert.
What you can try to do is get word out to your family and friends who must be anxiously waiting for news of your safety and whereabouts. Nonetheless, keep in mind that communication lines will most likely be down or jammed during these periods. Do not get caught up in the chaos; try to keep your cool and remain calm. Having comprehensive travel insurance is useful for making sure that you are compensated for any financial losses that might occur.
You’ve been scammed
You’ve finally managed to hail a taxi only to find the taxi-meter behaving strangely. The meter either skyrockets in a suspicious manner or the driver will tell you that it’s altogether broken and charge an exorbitant price for your journey.
To avoid these scams, you firstly need to have an idea of how much a ride should cost. A good idea would be to ask the local staff at the airport or receptionist at a hotel. Next, ensure that the meter is working correctly before getting into a taxi if it is working, but behaving suspiciously, get out and find another taxi. If you are in a country where public transport such as tuk-tuks are unmetered, make sure to do your research and agree on a price before getting into the vehicle.
Getting lost at some point during your travels is almost inevitable. You might get separated from your group, or if you’re travelling solo, you might find yourself without a clue of how to get to your destination. Our smartphones come in handy during these moments. The best thing to do find wifi access and download a city map off Google Maps or a similar app. The GPS software on your phone will pinpoint your location.
Don’t roam aimlessly. Keep in mind visible landmarks in your surrounding to help orient yourself. When all else fails, don’t be too shy to ask for directions. You will have a higher chance of speaking to a local if you approach a vendor or a taxi driver rather than a passerby.
You’ve got food poisoning
If you’ve come down with a horrible case of food poisoning on the road, your symptoms might last from hours to any number of days. The only way to get through it is to let your body heal. Drink plenty of water to compensate for the fluids your body is losing through vomiting and diarrhoea. Oral rehydration salts will also help replace your body’s water content.
Avoid spicy and diary-rich foods in case it further upsets your stomach. Instead, go for a soft-food diet and slowly reintroduce solids when you feel better. To be safe, do not drink unfiltered water. You might be able to self-treat with anti-nausea and anti-diarrhoea medication in your travel drug kit, but also know to seek professional medical help if your symptoms do not subside within 24-36 hours. Prevention is always better than cure in this case.
Despite all the mishaps and mistakes that may happen during a trip, you know they’ll never stop you from going out there to see the world. Being prepared is key, but nothing beats experience. The more you travel, the better you’ll be at anticipating and handling these common problems.