How to Resolve Your Travel Problems



Happy Traveler? Or maybe not?

Happy Traveler? Or maybe not?

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations, says a cliché. What it doesn’t say, though, is how to deal with these difficult roads. Let’s face it. Not every trip you ever planned had a happy start or a happy ending. Even being the most organizable person doesn’t guarantee that your trip will just follow your plan and that no mishaps will ever occur. Chances are that unlucky accidents may get in the way of your otherwise perfectly structured trip, threatening to a large extent its success. As frequent travelers, we have enjoyed ourselves in newly discovered places, but we have also missed flights, booked “nice-looking” hotels, and suffered from food poisoning, to say the least. Let us create a list of the five most common travel problems and their solutions, because overcoming (and by no means, leaving!) is the ultimate goal.

Stolen Wallet

Stolen Wallet

Pilferers are all around. They are not restricted in a specific area; they can be found simply everywhere. In the bus, in cafeterias, in local stores, on the road. Nowadays, most of us are aware of their existence and we have also learned how to track them down and protect our personal belongings. But, as a traveler, you can’t help but find yourself in crowded places, where your attention is preoccupied with exploring the new place and responding to the unknown environmental stimuli. This is one of the reasons why tourists are the main target of the local pilferers.

What should I do in case my wallet is stolen?

First step, contact the local police. Second step, contact your bank and report the fact that your cards are lost, so that they deactivate them and maybe send you a replacement card. If you have travel insurance, make sure you call the insurance company as soon as possible, report the incident and get your compensation. After you lose your wallet, little can be done. What I recommend you to do is keep your money in different locations and don’t gather it all in one wallet. Also, make sure that you make a photocopy of your ID card and other personal documents (for example, your driver’s license), as we tend to store them all together in our wallet and in case it gets lost, the trouble is real.

Missed Flight

Missed Flight

Not without reason, almost every traveler’s nightmare! If it is indeed your fault, try to react with serenity and ask politely for other available flights. Usually, you are charged for the second booking, but this depends highly on the airline. If, however, you miss your flight due to a previous flight’s delay, the airline normally compensates for that in one way or another. So, do not hesitate to ask information about the procedures in cases like yours.  

How not to miss your flight

What is highly recommended is that you set a backup alarm, in case your flight is scheduled really early in the morning and you are not a real morning person. If you are staying at a hotel, do not refrain from asking the reception to give you a wake-up call, in the extreme case that your own alarm doesn’t ring (Shit happens all the time!). Always check the status of your flight online or in the airline’s mobile app, if there is one available, and keep up with the latest changes to your itinerary. And last but not least, rule number one, do not leave your accommodation right at the last moment. You never know what stands in your way, from heavy rain to the most horrible traffic jam.

Lost Luggage

Lost Luggage

So, you disembark from the aircraft and head towards the conveyor belt. You keep waiting and waiting but your bag doesn’t show up eventually. Ok, don’t panic! Keep yourself together and go to the airline’s counter, where you should report the incident. They will take your contact details and inform you whether your luggage has been spotted in the airport, where you departed from, due to a possible mistake of the airline’s staff, or whether it has been mistakenly taken by another passenger, who has reported the issue. If your luggage is indeed lost, the airline will compensate for that. You may also get compensation for lost luggage by your insurance company, in case you have travel insurance of course.

How to eliminate the chances of losing your luggage

A clever idea would be to decorate your luggage with something distinctive and easily recognizable, such as for example a pair of old earphones tied around the handle. This will prevent the rest of the passengers from confusing your bag as their own. Also, put a label with your contact details on your luggage. This will make it easier to be found, in case it gets lost. Top tip: keep most valuables in your hand luggage, as we normally tend to use them more frequently and we pay closer attention to it.

Getting Sick/Food Poisoning

Getting Sick/Food Poisoning

This is really sad! But it cannot destroy your vacations, if you don’t let it. Be patient and follow simple steps. If you catch the flu or a cold and have symptoms like fever, cough, sore throat etc., you should take some antiviral drugs, because you do not have time to let the illness subside on its own. These drugs will make you feel better faster and will also prevent any possible complications. You could ask a doctor or a pharmacist which medication is right for you. Drink a lot of fluids and do not only stick to water. Fruit juices and soups also count and will play their role in keeping you hydrated. Give a little time to yourself and don’t exhaust your body for a day or two. Take a rest. I know this may derail your trip, but you should prefer it from ruining your vacation altogether.

Foodborne illnesses are most common when you travel because you might be exposed to foreign bacteria and illnesses that your body doesn’t know how to handle. You know that you suffer from food poisoning if you develop symptoms like abdominal cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, which show up 30 minutes to 6 hours after you consumed the food or drink in question. Firstly, you should try an over-the-counter medicine, like Imodium. The key point is to stay dehydrated, because you lose many fluids for which you should compensate. It is recommended that you eat bland foods like crackers, breads and rice, in order for your stomach to recover and not get any more irritated.

How to avoid sickness/food poisoning during your vacation

Some doctors around the world claim that we should get a flu vaccine, as it reduces transmission in the population. Apart from that, you should prepare a travel health kit, where you should include painkillers or anti-inflammatory/analgesic drugs, tissues, an alcohol-based sanitizer etc. Other simple rules you should follow are, among others, the following: wash your hands very often, avoid contact with other sick people, and above all, avoid touching your face because that’s often how the flu gets into your system. These tips will reduce the possibilities of catching the flu. 

As far as food poisoning is concerned, what you should do in order to avoid suffering from it, is to be very cautious of everything you are about to consume in the foreign land. Be wary of raw fruits and vegetables and avoid salads, as you can never be sure about their hygiene (read:How to Find the Best Places to Eat While Traveling). Refrain from eating seafood or street food of dubious quality and choose dishes that are served steaming hot. And rule number one, always drink bottled or sterilized water and avoid pouring drinks over ice, if you do not know whether it was made with bottled or purified water.

Awful Accommodation

Awful Accommodation

Personally, I believe that this is the most easily fixable problem. It is often the case that the hotel photos we encounter online have nothing to do with the reality of the hotel’s appearance. Initially, you may get a real disappointment, but you can also take immediate action. Inform the reception about your dissatisfaction and ask politely for a room change. If your request doesn’t get the desired attention and you feel that the staff is ignoring your problem, aim higher: ask to talk with the hotel manager.  If you booked through a tour operator, they’re liable to fix your issue and you should contact them right away (read: How to Make a Hotel Reservation). Normally, they should try to satisfy you as a customer. If this is not the case, you can always write an appropriate social media review or even change accommodation.

How to avoid picking up a bad hotel

There are several signs which will ring the bell that the hotel you are currently checking is not one of the kind. First of all, if the photos are way too artsy or, at the opposite extreme, way too distorted and blurred, then move on to the next available option in the website you have visited. Second, if the hotel’s page is outdated and overwhelmed with typos, imagine a similar appearance of the hotel itself, too. Then, if the most recent online reviews are mostly negative, this should keep you from booking a room in the hotel in question. A very clever idea, which may prove helpful on this matter, is to visit Google Maps and use the Street View. If the exterior is not that promising, do not expect a surprise in the interior. Chances are the interior will be in a similar condition.


When, how, and to whom you should complain about your travel problems

Now that we have covered the most frequent travel problems and their possible solutions, it is about time we discussed a similarly important issue and namely, complaints!

When: Normally, you should complain about a problem that can be shortly fixed, like the awful accommodation we discussed previously. Also, you should complain about any inconvenience that opposes to your customer rights and that can affect other travelers in the future, too. Do not complain about issues that cannot practically be solved or fixed, like the weather conditions. You will definitely sound ridiculous and eventually you may lose your dignity.

How: I would recommend that you complain on the spot and face to face with the person in charge each time. If you missed the chance to fix your problem in real time though, then the second most efficient way to make your complaint is through a well-written and well-structured text. You can also call for a more instant resolution of your problem, but if you are shy or you may get too emotional and erupt or you think that you need written proof due to the seriousness of the matter, then you should write. Letters are nowadays quite obsolete, so you are most likely to resort to an email. Emails are the most common means of communication between individuals and companies in our days and they have somehow replaced the letters. They are taken seriously and they are a form of instant communication. But, sometimes, emails may be filtered as spam, or they may be easily and intentionally ignored. If this is the case and you do not get the desired attention, then you could also resort to the social media, where you can play with the company’s name. Last but not least, online chats can prove quite efficient sometimes, but they usually provide scripts which are irritating and deliberately vague.

To whom:  Of course, you should always address your complaint to the right person. You should start at the bottom of the hierarchical order, for example leave a complaint at the website of your travel company. If you do not get a response, aim higher, for instance get in touch with a supervisor. If nothing happens again, reach the manager of the company or of the customer service, who is in charge of dealing with customers. If every try you made brought no solution by, then you can either stop trying or you can resort to publicity and intermingle the media.

What you should always bear in mind is that you should always remain calm and polite. Be patient and never use threats and insults. No doubt they will have the opposite result. Always remember that traveling is a means of relaxing and enjoying life. Do not spoil your holidays with anger and negativity, but try to get the most out of it. Happy travels!  

Edited  by Elena Dimitriadou

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