Plans going wrong on a trip. The mere mention is enough to give me anxiety when planning, let alone being there. No one wants a vacation to go array, but there's also circumstances that are beyond anyone’s control.
So what to do when the unexpected happens?
1. Don’t panic. Clearly, it is easier said than done. But going into a state of anxiousness won’t help you think clearly or help resolve a situation. So get the fret out and start working on a back up plan.
2. Know your rights. With air travel, if your flight gets cancelled, there’s very little that’s protected & that’ll keep you covered. But there are areas, like cancellations or delays due mechanical errors or an overbooked flight, that will grant you some coverage from the airline. If your flight is affected because of weather, then you’re likely covering for expenses out of pocket. Unless you’re covered. Our friends at Bebe Voyage take a deeper look into your rights when it comes to air travel.
With cruise travel, passengers have a bill of rights they agree to much like when purchasing an air ticket. Your cruise contract spells out exactly what to expect, though the fine print often gets overlooked. Cruise Lines International Association also known as CLIA, is the official trade association for the cruise industry and spelled out those rights clearly for passengers back in 2013. And you'll more often than not find that cruise lines act a little more generously when compensating for a negative impact on travel for all those onboard.
3. Travel Insurance. Don’t really consider it a need for a trip? Think again!
If plans change, your insurance can kick in to cover the difference in unexpected expenses. We’ve experienced change in plans with & without insurance, and what a difference it was!
A few years back, when traveling to Brazil, our connecting flight out of Miami got delayed due before we even reached it. Once we arrived in Miami, the airlines worked on giving us a place to stay and vouchers to use, though we still ended up paying out of pocket for the delay. Our luggage was left on the plane which left us without access to some essentials (hence why we always pack important items in a carry on now). The vouchers given by the airline were only valid in the airport, and with our late arrival and early departure, we found ourselves unable to use them. So we contacted our insurance provider who approved our impending claim, kept the receipts from expenses and upon return filed a claim in the amount of unforeseen expenses incurred.
Our latest trip to New York found us at the airport with a cancelled flight due to weather and a rebook available only two days later. The airlines had done their part in finding us the next available flight and unfortunately for us, weather is not a reason for airlines to give you a stipend. We also had opted to not book travel insurance for this trip, so all costs were now going to be out of pocket. And they quickly ramped up when the whole city was put at a standstill and a place to sleep needed to be found last minute. We quickly learned the important of insurance and have since vowed to not travel without it.
Your credit card could offer the insurance you need if booking your trip with it, so check with your card company before paying a trip and also make sure to know exactly what you're covered for. For us, we use an insurance company for coverage and always offer it, quite often going to Travel Guard by AIG as our trusted provider. Even beyond travel mishaps, having the coverage for cancellation options or even emergency medical coverage goes a long way for what you spend to purchase it. And best case scenario, if you don't have to use it, the peace of mind to know what you will be getting in return is absolutely worth it!
4. Overbooked hotel? You’ll get walked with a valid reservation.
We got to experience this firsthand with a 3rd party provider. We couldn’t find a place to stay so went to an online travel agency to book a night at whatever was available on Manhattan. We got to the hotel only to find it was oversold and they couldn’t honor our reservation.
Expedia made good on their rebooking promise, found us a place to stay AND covered the cost difference. This happened with a call to Expedia who managed the problem and forgiving the hotel who had nothing to do with their travel voucher. In some circumstances that may not exist, so hotels will find a suitable like option. In our case, since the error was Expedia's and we needed a place to stay, they paid the difference per night.
5. Rent a car. If you have the option, make a road trip back home.
When plans change, and you need go get home, check all other possible options, including train & car travel. You may lose the value on the other side of you ticket, but you won't lose any more precious time getting where you need to go.
6. Courtesy & graciousness go a long way. It's easy to get frustrated, but the one thing you can do is not blame the person on the other line.
You'll get more out of the situation by practicing please, thank you and patience than losing your cool for something the agent can't control. Most time they're just as overwhelmed and frustrated as you, as they are now looking to help you make the bet of the worst. And you'll definitely attract more with honey than vinegar!
7. Make the best of the worst. Sure it didn’t go as planned but try to make the best of it. Yes there are circumstances that literally ruined a trip, but those are so few and far between. Its difficult to predict or control. But you can control your attitude towards it and how you handle it. And know that beyond what lemons have been handed to you, you're being made more resilient by these circumstances.