How to Deal with Disasters, Mishaps and Snafus While Traveling

by Julia on October 14, 2019

Is there anyone who doesn’t love to travel? In addition to getting away from the mundane day-to-day routine, it’s an opportunity to experience new cultures, see amazing sights, try different foods, and meet people you otherwise might not have crossed paths with.

Yet there’s no denying that sometimes travel can be a pain in the you-know-what. From flat tires to delayed flights, from lost luggage to a stolen wallet, it can sometimes feel like Murphy’s Law has a very long arm indeed. Today we’re talking about some of the most common travel-related mishaps — and how to deal with them.

The Airline Has Lost Your Luggage

There’s one simple way to avoid this disaster: don’t check a bag. However, that’s easier said than done, and so if you must bring along more than a carry-on, here are some best practices to make sure it doesn’t ruin your whole trip.

Operate on the assumption that your suitcase will be lost, and pack your carry-on and purse accordingly. Carry these items with you at all times:

  • Passport, travel documents, credit or debit cards, and cash

  • Eyeglasses, contact lenses, and prescription medications

  • A change of clothes that is appropriate for your destination’s climate

  • Expensive jewelry, electronics, and other valuables

  • Anything else that you wouldn’t be able to live without for two or three days

Before checking your bag, take a picture of its contents (or write a list), so you can let the airline know exactly what’s in it. If your suitcase does get lost, file a report before leaving the airport. It may very well be arriving on a later flight or misplaced but still on the premises.

You Are Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident

Taking a road trip instead of jet-setting it? There’s a lot of fun to be had by traveling the highways and byways, but also some inherent risks. One of the biggest risks is getting involved in a vehicular accident.

Whether you are unfamiliar with the routes and make a wrong turn, causing your car to impact another or a semi-truck driver falls asleep at the wheel and crashes into it, an accident can really derail your plans.

Experts at The Barnes Firm recommend taking the same steps you would if the accident occurred closer to home. Just like an accident in your hometown, you should take note of every detail pertaining to your accident, including details of the scene, the other driver’s information, and take photos of any damages. If injured, call 911 and wait for help to arrive. If you are not treated on the scene or taken to an emergency room for your injuries, get a checkup as soon as possible after the incident. Going to an urgent care facility is a good way to do this when you’re far from your primary care doctor’s practice.

If your car is totaled or requires extensive repair before it can be driven again, your itinerary may have to be scrapped. Try to maintain your calm and your sense of humor if this happens. At the very least, you’ll have an interesting vacation story to chuckle about — at least eventually.

You’re Abroad and Your Passport Has Disappeared

This is a frightening situation in which to find yourself. Prepare for it ahead of time by bringing along photocopies of your passport, driver’s license or other ID, transportation tickets, and itinerary. Leave one set of copies at home with a trusted friend or relative, and bring one with you. You can also scan your documents and email the scans to yourself if it makes you anxious to have the information in hard-copy format.

As soon as you discover that your passport has gone walkabout, locate the nearest American consulate or American Citizen Services office. They can guide you through the process of getting a temporary passport, help file a police report, offer emergency financial assistance, and otherwise save the day.

Your Wallet Falls into the Wrong Hands

Crowded tourist attractions can be rife with pickpockets and thieves, so be sure to always pay attention to your purse or wallet. Better yet, wear a money belt or passport holder, ideally underneath your clothes. It’s also a smart idea to keep most of your credit or debit cards and cash locked in your hotel-room safe; only take with you what you need for the day.

You may also want to carry a dummy wallet — just use an old one, or buy an inexpensive one that you won’t miss if it’s taken. Put a minimal amount of money in it. A couple of expired gift cards or membership cards can also serve as a decoy in a pinch. The dummy wallet could keep your real swag safe if you are robbed or held up.

In the event that your wallet or purse is taken anyway, you should immediately contact the issuer and have it canceled. Many credit-card companies will overnight you a replacement via FedEx or Priority Mail.

Ready, Set, Travel!

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Be a savvy traveler and prepare for common mishaps like these. However, sometimes even the most rigorous safety precautions won’t prevent troubles from befalling you. When they do, keep calm, reach out to the American consulate or embassy, and use this opportunity as a learning experience.

Have you found yourself in any of these situations while away from home? Is there any advice you can share with your fellow travelers? Leave a note in the comment section and let us know!

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