I love to travel, so it's inevitable that I've had my share of mishaps. I've had my luggage lost many times -- even on my honeymoon! But the worst travel experience I had by far is when I went on a Mediterranean cruise a couple of years ago. I was traveling with my family (10 of us!), and the airline lost my luggage on our way there (just mine). Let me just clarify who I was on the trip with: my 10 and 12 year old sons (can't borrow their clothes for obvious reasons), my brother-in-law, his brother, my 6'6" nephew (ditto about all of them), my sister (size zero ... and ummm, I am NOT a size zero), my niece (also size zero... bummer again), and my mom. (She has a different fashion sense than I do... sorry, mom, if you're reading this!)
You get the point. No one to borrow clothes from.
What I experienced from the airline during (and after) the trip was absolutely, positively, no empathy for me as a human being. They didn't care that my vacation was ruined by them (it wasn't ruined -- I had great time, but only because I had a sense of humor about it). And I literally laughed out loud every time I heard them say, "Uhhh, we have no idea where your bag is, ma'am."
Long story short, I finally got it back. Six weeks later. Even though I had to drive out to the airport to get it myself, I was still grateful to get it back.
I tell you this story because I know what it feels like to feel helpless when you're traveling. But I have learned some things along the way that I want to share with you:
1. Do your research.
There are a lot of scams out there. I've heard countless stories of hotels putting up fake or misleading photos that look a lot better than the real thing. While it's difficult to really know what a hotel looks like from half way around the world, at least look at the reviews. Trust me, if people have complaints about a vacation destination, you will be able to find them on the internet!
2. Plan, plan, plan.
There are plenty of websites around that will help you plan your trip. But sometimes all the information can be overwhelming. So, it is important to compare prices, see the options available, and then make the absolute best choices possible. You don't want to have regrets about anything -- especially when you are spending your precious money on something that might be a once-in-a-lifetime trip!
3. Get some travel apps.
There seems to be an app for everything these days! And that means there are also a lot of them that pertain to traveling. You can find ones that helps you be safe, find all the U.S. embassies, keep track of your travel itineraries, and give you information about all the cities you're traveling to. If you need it, you can probably find it. So take some time to take advantage of these apps so you can put your mind at ease.
4. Drink plenty of water on the plane.
Many people can get bloated when they are on long flights -- I've seen it happen. They might not even know what's happening, they just know they don't feel good. But there are ways to get rid of that water retention, you just have to educate yourself. It seems as if water is key to just about everything, so in order to feel your best on long flights, be prepared and take preventative measures.
5. Get travel insurance.
I waffle on this one every time. I always say to myself, "Ughhh. I don't want to spend that extra money!" But I have known people who have definitely needed it. Some have the insurance, and some don't. I have a good friend who fell ill shortly before a cruise, and because she had insurance, she was able to reschedule the trip and not lose any money.
6. Have a sense of humor.
Ultimately, you can't plan for everything. You can take precautions and do your best, but in the end, some things are just unexpected and have to be dealt with. And it's much better to deal with it with a sense of humor! I told you my funny story early in this article because it helps illustrate how you can have traveling mishaps and still have fun. I had a great vacation and somehow I maintained a sense of humor throughout the whole ordeal.
Mishaps will always happen -- it's a fact of life. But hopefully some of the lessons I learned will help you in your adventures around the world.