Vacations are a time of fun, games, and relaxation, right? Well, not exactly: holidays are also a time when unpleasantries can (and usually do) happen. Bouts of ill weather and ill health, pickpockets, natural disasters, political unrests, cancelled flights, mislaid luggage, lost passports, and unforeseen expenses are all too real a risk which tourists have to be aware of on the go. But does this mean that you should drop holiday plans and stay at home for safety’s sake? Definitely not: you just need to do is arm yourself with tried-and-tested survival strategies for the worst case vacation scenario.
Mother Earth’s caprices: Natural disasters
Though perhaps not as common as some other holiday unpleasantries, natural disasters are definitely a force to be reckoned with. Still, you can both survive Mother Nature’s fits and save yourself a few spare nerves by following these 3 steps.
1. Stay cool. Should a bout of tempestuous weather, volcano eruption, or quake befall you at your vacation destination, try to keep a level head. Impatience or panic will only make things worse, so do as the locals do: follow safety procedures, stay calm, and keep your belongings at hand.
2. Ring home. In case of natural disasters on the go, don’t forget to ring your family or friends back home to let them know you’re safe as soon as you get the chance.
3. Info is ammo. Check the airline policy for natural disaster situations before buying the fare. It’s probably not the first thing that’ll cross your mind when planning a holiday, but it shouldn’t be the last one either.
Good luck with the system: Political unrests
Trips to exotic destinations are cool, but in the world we live in, many popular destinations are potential hotbeds of political and civil unrest. Here are a few things you can do in case you find yourself caught up in clashes or protests.
1. Stay out of trouble. Don’t get involved in strikes at your destination. You are a foreigner, and as such, you’re an outsider and a potential victim of robbery or assault.
2. Contact the embassy. As soon as you hear about unrests in town, ring the embassy to inquire about evacuation options and safety steps you can take immediately.
3. A one-way ticket out. In case of large-scale unrests on the fly, contact your airline company and ask them about early return and ticket swap options (some companies charge extra fees, but some don’t).
Airport SOS calling: Mislaid or stolen luggage
Millions of bags get lost or mislaid at airports every year, and yours can be the next. Should you wind up stripped of a fresh change of clothes through airport staff’s oversight, try to keep your wits about you – and here’s how.
1. Stay put. Never, ever leave the airport without filing a missing baggage report and claim first. The airline cannot help you unless you tell them you’re in need of assistance.
2. Play nice. Be polite when reporting missing luggage. Panic, impatience, and stress will only cause additional delays – plus, nobody likes to deal with angry tourists.
3. Make ‘em pay. If possible, try to get a compensation for delayed luggage from the airline or airport. It would be a good idea to get the info on airline lost luggage policy before they actually misplace your luggage.
A bout of ill health: Health emergencies on the go
Ill health on the go can by all means be a pain. Don’t let health glitches get the better of you – act right away and remedy even the slightest of problems before they aggravate further.
1. Take the pill. A quick trip to the pharmacy is the best remedy for minor health issues. Ask the pharmacist about available medications for the condition and their side-effects.
2. Doctor’s orders. For more pressing health emergencies, seek treatment at the nearest clinic or ER. Waiting for the problem to go away on its own will only make things worse.
3. Stay safe. Go online and check the list of healthcare crises your travel insurance does (and doesn’t) cover before you show up at the healthcare center. Also, have cash at hand – medical services abroad can be pretty costly.
The nerve-racking red tape ride: Lost passport hassle
Losing your passport is one of the worst things that can happen to you abroad. Don’t give in: stick to the rules and arm yourself with nerves of steel for the red tape.
1. Embassy call. Immediately contact the embassy to inform them that your travel ID is missing, and ask about the steps you need to take to get a replacement passport.
2. Swap it. Filing for a replacement passport is the next step in the missing passport drill. It involves tons of paperwork, but it has to be done if you’re to return home safely.
3. Money talk. If you need to leave country the next day, a handful of cash may just nudge the replacement passport issuance procedure in the right (i.e. speedy) direction.
Bonus tip: Before you embark on the holiday, go over money transfer options online and pick a payment service that offers fixed and lock-in travel exchange rate options to save yourself some cash. Time is money, especially when visiting a country with instable monetary system and shifty conversion rates. Bon voyage, and good luck!