While an amazing chance to explore a new place, travel is not without its ups and downs. In a third and final guest post for liligo.com, blogger Georgina Lawton – who shares her honest travel stories, tips and tricks on her blog Girl Unfurled – offers her experienced advice on what to do if disaster strikes on vacation.
Georgina Lawton – Girl Unfurled
Currently traveling around Nicaruaga and the Caribbean, Georgina is originally from London and writes about her travel adventures online and for a number of publications. With an honest and witty style, she’s also visited countries such as Vietnam and Costa Rica and lists fried plantain, lip balm and listening to bachata as her current addictions.
“The benefits of travelling are well-touted; you try new things, broaden your horizons, discover how to interact with different people and learn how to be alone. If you’re lucky maybe you’ll even fall in love or learn a new skill along the way. But what happens when disaster strikes? Because it will at some point, trust me on that one; some travel problems are pretty much de rigeur. Whether it’s getting sick, getting lost or just getting fed-up with foreign climes, when you find yourself facing a travel problem or three, while hundreds of miles from home, it can push you to your limit and maybe even cause you to cut your trip short.
So that doesn’t happen to you, I’ve broken down how to bounce back from 6 of the most common travel problems.
1. Gross Accommodation
Problem: So the hotel of your dreams doesn’t quite match the images online. You arrive and find; stain-covered carpets, a grime-covered bathroom and four cockroaches crawling way too close to your wobbly bed. Ew.
Solution: Travelling for hours only to find sub-par accommodation is one of the most fixable travel problems, but at the time it feels like your entire trip is completely ruined. However, simply knowing your rights as a consumer before you set off can facilitate the right outcome. If you booked through a tour operator, they’re liable to to fix your issue and you should contact them right away. Similarly, if it’s an Airbnb that’s let you down, they offer assistance in finding a new place and/or a refund. And if it’s an (unreasonable) hotel or hostel? Well you could always gently try asserting your power as a customer: if they try to swerve your complaint warn them that a bad social media review can go a long way in this day and age…
2. Getting Sick
Problem: Falling ill far away from the sympathy of your loved ones in a country where access to healthcare may be limited or impossible can be scary and isolating. And if you don’t have the language skills to explain your symptoms to healthcare professionals sometimes getting sick abroad can even be life-threatening.
Solution: Always pack a first-aid kit that’s also equipped with any additional medication you anticipate needing so you can treat yourself if possible. Anti-diarrhea tablets, anti-bacterial hand-wash, painkillers and rehydration salts are also a must. And if you do have to go to a foreign hospital, try and find an accomplice who can help translate any paperwork and medicines before you commit. If in doubt, check with your insurance provider about what’s covered and what you should be taking.
3. Feeling Lonely
Problem: It’s normal to feel lost and confused on the road especially if you’re going it alone, but it’s a travel problem that can feel overwhelming at times and have you reconsidering all your plans. Whether it’s the foreign customs which are proving too much, you’re frustrated at being unable to locate other travellers, or it’s just harder to connect with people than you anticipated, feeling lonely or homesick can turn a dream trip into a total nightmare.
Solution: Bite the bullet and get out there to start communicating with people if you want to feel less alone. Although it might seem scary at first, learning a little of that foreign language (see below) and introducing yourself to that group of strangers at the bar is the only way to make solid social connections with others. You have to put the effort in – even if it means feeling exposed or out of your depth. Most of the time people will be receptive if they can see you’re really trying.
4. Language Barriers
Problem: Not being understood in foreign climes is proving to be more of a hassle than you’d anticipated. In fact, it’s making you feel more than a little alienated and frustrated.
Solution: It’s never too late to brush up on your language skills; making even a very basic effort will endear you to locals and make your trip far more enjoyable in the process. Download language app Duolingo to practice anywhere, enroll at a local language school for a few hours a day and take each opportunity to immerse yourself in your new culture, no matter how small. Failing that, investing in an old-school guide book or pocket dictionary to whip out in emergencies is always useful.
5. Losing Your Stuff
Problem: Uh-oh; you could have sworn you had your phone/passport/camera at that last bus terminal or hotel. And now you don’t.
Solution: Planning ahead for possible losses is smart; make copies of your passport before you set off, store the address and number of your foreign embassy in your phone or bag in case of emergencies and always split-store your money. If you’ve lost personal items, insurance can be your best friend in situations like this, provided your policy doesn’t come with ridiculous premiums and you’ve kept all your receipts for the lost items, of course.
6. Delayed / Missed Flights
Problem: Nobody likes being stranded in an airport because of a delayed flight or missed connection and it can be one of the most expensive (not to mention soul-destroying) travel problems to put right.
Solution: Be sure to keep in contact with your airline both before, and on, the day of flying. Check the status of the flight online and also through the airline app (if available) so you’re always aware of any changes to your itinerary. It’s also possible to minimize the risk of cancellations by being savvy about what type of ticket you buy; non-stop flights won’t have you waiting around on connections and flights with earlier departures often avoid the effect of other delayed flights. And if you do find yourself stranded, this handy directory of all the free wi-fi spots in airports around the world will save you from boredom. Happy travels!