Some of the best things about travelling happen when the unexpected occurs. Spotting exotic wildlife out of season, visiting unawares during a special cultural event or stumbling across a hidden gem. However sometimes unexpected things happen that can throw the best laid plans into chaos. Between flight schedule changes, cancellations and lost luggage, sometimes hiccups happen. But there are ways to minimise the impacts of these unexpected events which won't put so much added stress on what is supposed to be a relaxing holiday. We've put together our top 5 tips on how to travel smart and be ready for anything.
Savvy travellers build flexibility into their travel plans and leave a margin for unforeseen changes. Although you might want to make the very most of the time you have in your destination, it's best to leave your first and last days free in case plans change. Booking tours and activities on these days can easily lead to disappointment if your flight is delayed and you miss your opportunity or worse still, can't get a refund. Not to mention you'll be stressing the whole time about trying to make your deadline. Knowing there's nothing in particular you need to be on time for will make for a much more laid back experience. After all, what could be better than stepping off a delayed flight to Bali and knowing all you need to do is catch the shuttle to your resort and sit by the pool with a cocktail?
When things go wrong on your travels, trying to triage the situation while on the road and phone or internet access is limited, non-existent or expensive can be a nightmare. This only adds to the stress you're already feeling. However if you've booked through a travel agent, this is where they can step in and do all the leg work for you. Flight delays can throw your plans out the window and if you're travelling to somewhere like Fiji arrival time is important, especially if you're transiting to the outer islands. If you miss the boat transfer, you could be stuck on the mainland overnight without accommodation.
Travel agents are alerted by the airline if your flights are delayed, so they can start working on a solution immediately before you've even found a Maccas with free WiFi to email them. While you're in the air, they're able to get you a spot on the 24 hour water taxi or a room for the night on the mainland if the kids are too tired to keep going. You can sit back and enjoy the free in-flight refreshments and land knowing that everything has already been sorted.
There's more to travelling than just packing your suitcase and jumping on a plane. Often there's a whole lot of logistics that need to be taken care of back home as well. If your flight is delayed and you can't get back home for a couple of days you might need to extend your pet's stay at the kennel, but what if they're fully booked? Your airport parking might expire, and you don't want to be hit with a massive charge for overstaying.
There's always a solution to these dilemmas but thinking ahead and having a plan in place means that all you have to do is put that plan into action. Rather than being struck with panic and wondering who you're going to get to help bail you out, speak to a friend of family member before you leave to make sure they're able to pick your pet up and take care of them or call the parking garage on your behalf to extend your service.
As the old adage goes, if you can't afford travel insurance you can't afford to travel and this saying has never been more true. The minor inconvenience of those back home logistics mentioned above will still incur additional expense, but that's nothing compared to the costs you could face should you need to find additional accommodation or transportation in your holiday destination.
If your flight is cancelled and the next few flights are full, it could be a couple of days before you're on your way home. The measly vouchers from the airline are not even going to come close to covering your needs. Especially if you're travelling with the whole family, a couple of extra days of accommodation and meals can very quickly add up. Travel insurance will cover this to ensure you're not out of pocket. It's a small price to pay for peace of mind.
Perhaps one of the most inconvenient things that can go wrong on holiday is losing your luggage. And whether it's just temporarily misplaced or is gone forever, it's still a very upsetting experience. Travel insurance will cover the cost of replacing whatever is lost, but that doesn't help you in the moment when all you're left with are the clothes on your back.
Take advantage of carry on allowances and pack smart so that if the worst does happen, you're not totally stuffed. Pack important essentials like medication, underwear, toiletries and a change or two of clothes in your carry on so that you can at least make it through a couple of days without your luggage. Hopefully it will have found its way back to you by then, but if not you at least have a buffer until you can buy whatever else you need.
Ideally your holiday should be a relaxing experience that rewards hard work and savings, but unfortunately sometimes things can and do go wrong. Being prepared for the unexpected and having some strategies in place to deal with any little hiccups can go a long way in salvaging your sanity.
Have you ever had things go wrong while on holiday? How did you deal with it?