lassedesignen/ShutterstockDespite all the inherent bliss of a well-planned vacation, things can and will go wrong. Cover yourself by avoiding these nine common travel mistakes. And if you miss a flight, be prepared: "If you book with a travel agent, call the agent immediately to rebook," says Laura Davidson, president of LDPR, a travel-and-lifestyle public relations firm. One of the nice things about booking through a travel agent is that they'll deal with the mess, so you don't have to. If you booked on your own and you're at the airport, look up the next flight and go to that gate so they can put you on standby. "That's when it's great to have the airline's app already downloaded, so you can look at everything immediately," says Davidson.
You or your child gets sick
Dmytro Zinkevych/ShutterstockGetting sick while traveling is never fun, but it pays to be prepared before you go. Make sure you know these proven natural remedies for motion sickness, for starters. Then consider more serious potential issues. "Many travelers don't think about the value of worldwide medical advisory and medical evacuation services until they need them, says Devon Davis, MD, director of Medical Operations with Global Rescue, a travel risk and crisis management firm. Travel insurance covers the cost of medical evacuation transport, plus it has an extensive group of doctors and hospitals world-wide, so you're not scrambling to find someone. The cost savings—and the network of medical help—can be huge. Just make sure to contact them immediately and keep all receipts.
If it's something more minor like traveler's diarrhea, go the hotel's concierge. They often have on-site doctors that can come to your room for a fee.
Your hotel room is awful
Kanyapak Lim/ShutterstockYour room could be unacceptable for any number of reasons—it could even be haunted, like this one. Don't bother calling reception, it's more effective to talk to someone in person. "I go right down to the front desk and ask to see a manager, and then very politely and sweetly request a better room and give them the reasons for it," says Davidson. If that doesn't work? In this social media-obsessed world, you can always post something on Twitter. "Most hotels have people on the lookout for unhappy guests," says Davidson. (Here are some other hotel booking secrets you should know.)
Your luggage has a different destination
WeStudio/Shutterstock"Immediately contact the airlines' customer service department to file a missing baggage claim," says Jessica Bisesto, senior editor at TravelPirates. "Many airlines will reimburse travelers if their luggage is delayed by more than six hours." Be sure to keep the receipts, and see if the airlines will also reimburse your transportation to and from the airport should you have to return to pick up your bag the next day. And always get the name of the person you're talking to, so you can follow up with that person the next time you call.
Of course, it's better in the long run if you don't check baggage. If you must, make sure you have a small "go-bag" that has all your essentials. "Keep a spare set of essentials like socks and underwear in that go-bag," says Joost Schreve, co-founder and CEO of kimkim, which specializes in curating independent customized tours. "If you're traveling for work or to a special occasion where a suit or dress is required, make sure that's in your go-bag too." Other things to pack? She suggests a voltage adapter, if you're traveling internationally; chargers for your tech devices; sleep essentials like headphones, ear plugs, and eye mask; travel toiletries like deodorant, razor, make-up; prescription pills; and reading glasses. "If push comes to shove and your carry-on roller bag gets gate checked or lost, you'll at least have peace of mind knowing you can survive until it's found."
Also, it may sound weird, but you should always take a picture of your suitcase before it gets checked (either gate-checked or at the counter). That way you have a handy visual to show—this is especially important if you have numerous bags and can't remember exactly what brand your current bag is.
Content continues below ad
The hotel or airline doesn't have your reservation
Romrodphoto/ShutterstockAlways triple check flight, hotel, and car reservations after you book, and check again right before you travel. "Sometimes they make changes and don't notify you," says Davidson. "And while it's nice to have everything digital, always have a print out in case your phone dies."
In fact, back-up proof is always good when it comes to MIA reservations. If you're at the counter, Bisesto suggests showing them your credit card statement (you can pull this up online), to ensure that the booking did indeed go through successfully.
You don't like the resort
Romrodphoto/Shutterstock"See if you're able to change rooms first, or check to see if they have any sister properties of higher quality," suggests Bisesto. "Before cancelling your reservation, see what their refund policy is and ensure that you're able to get a new reservation at another resort." If all else fails and it really is a miserable fit, talk to the resort's GM and explain the situation. "Sometimes they would rather put an unhappy guest elsewhere than get a bad review on TripAdvisor," says Davidson.