Travel Bloggers share When Things do wrong when Travelling
Travel is a great experience but sometimes things to go wrong. Even though it can seem like the end of the world at the time when things go wrong when travelling it should be turned around into a adventure and to learn from mistakes. It also can make some really interesting stories, if no one is seriously hurt of course.
I have had a few things go wrong when I have been travelling, some were my mistake and not paying enough attention when booking hotels and transport. I have had my purse stolen luckily they threw it in a bush wish my credit cards in and only took the cash which wasn’t much but I still was a little upset. The worse experience of traveling was a car crash in Chine, my life literally flashed before my eyes, you can read more about it here but at least I am here to tell the story.
I asked some fellow travel bloggers to share their experiences of when things go wrong when travelling, not to scare people but to make you more aware that these things do and can happen so be careful!
Getting Robbed when travelling
Being robbed at home or abroad can be scary. I had my purse pinched and it ruined the last few days of my holiday as I felt violated. Possessions can be replaced which is why it is important to have insurance but if something is stolen that is personal it can be very upsetting.
Ayngelina from Baconismagic
I was robbed in Saigon within the first hour of arriving. We had come overland from Cambodia and needed to take out our passports several times and I got lazy and just left it in my purse that across my body.
When we arrived we saw a bank machine was nearby so we walked there first, took out some money and as we were heading back to the hotel a scooter with two men on it drove on the sidewalk between us. The passenger pull my purse and cut it with a knife off my body and they took off.
Thankfully I had taken a photo of my passport and all my major documents. I went to the Canadian consulate and they said because I had those documents it made everything easier to process. I filled out a new passport application and it would take a few days so they asked my plans, we were heading to Hanoi. Fortunately there is a Canadian embassy there so they said when we arrived in five days my temporary passport would be ready so we could board our flight home.
Since then I have not been worried about losing my passport. But thankfully it hasn’t happened again!
James Ian at Travel Collecting
After traveling to eighty countries, I have had things go wrong from time to time. One time I was on a “chicken bus” in Guatemala, as the local buses are called.
They are former U.S. school buses, so have bench seats and very little legroom. It was crowded, as they usually are, and the guy next to me was squeezed right up against me on the end of the bench.
The bus stopped at a largish town, and he wriggled against me to let people pass. He smiled at me as if to apologize for the need to be so close, since there were so many people. I didn’t think anything of it even as he continued to wriggle a little until he suddenly jumped off – a few minutes after we’d stopped.
Immediately I had a sinking feeling, as there was no reason for him not to have gotten off the bus straight away. Sure enough, my phone was no longer in pocket! The lesson I learned the hard way? Now I never keep valuables in my pocket when I travel.
When travelling A to B takes longer than expected or goes wrong
I actually like travelling from A to B as its all part of the travel experience but if plans are delayed or transport doesnt turn up it can turn into a nightmare.
Chris Backe at Worthy Go
You can’t be continuously traveling for over 11 years and not have at least one crazy travel story in you… Ours happened during a bus trip in Laos, from Vientiane to Luang Prabang. We were told it would be a 12-hour trip, so naturally we arrived at the bus station early to ensure we got tickets, caught the bus, and so on. The trip started off fine, just a long, boring bus trip through the day. I settled in with a book on my iPad and tried to while away the hours…
We stopped at a side-of-the-road place that looked like a picnic shelter. Meal time, one hour break. Stretch the legs, get some lunch… at some point I looked back over at the bus, and there are three locals with black, greasy hands standing in front of the bus with the hood.
Not a good look.
Hours passed. We’re under shelter and there’s plenty of food and water, so it’s just annoying at this point. What was supposed to be a 12-hour trip that would have had us arrive at a decent time of night was quickly turning into a thing that might end up arriving in the middle of the night… Not a great time to try and check in to a hotel.
The bus eventually got fixed a few hours after lunch, and we were back on the road. Well after sunset, I drifted off to sleep, only to be jostled awake by some very rough roads. We’re on dirt now — a single-lane dirt road that’s nearly pitch-black save for the bus headlights — and the bumpiness just doesn’t stop.
After an hour of this, we stop dead in our tracks along the dirt road with no clue as to what’s going on. Some of us get off the bus to stretch our legs and we see the problem — a tree has fallen, and a dozen men from vehicles on both sides are hacking at it with machetes.
A chainsaw would’ve handled this in a few minutes, but after a half-hour of thwacking, they eventually chopped it into movable pieces and moved them off the road.
We arrived after nearly 17 hours, around 2am. The rest of our trip was pretty decent — Luang Prabang being a pretty cool place and all. We weren’t about to take that bus back to Vientiane — for a little bit more, we chose the first-world, one-hour flight back.
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Leanne from The Globertrotter GP
Sometimes travel disasters end up making funny travel stories and this one is no exception! Of course, it doesn’t make the situation at the time any less stressful and I recall the sense of dread as I very nearly rolled my hire car in the middle of nowhere in rural Greece.
My friend and I had set out to find Shipwreck Bay on Zakynthos in our little hire car. All was going well as we followed the GPS on my phone but then we noticed that the road it was leading us down was getting more and more potholed. Before we knew it, we were somehow off-roading in our tiny car. We stopped and looked at the map and it seemed that the road was about to get wider and we decided would be harder to turn back than go forward so we kept going. We rounded a sharp corner and suddenly the road was half missing where they had had a landslide.
We tried reversing. No luck. In the end, we balanced the car by both sitting on the same side and inched our way to safety, the clutch stinking out the car.
After about 30 minutes of the scariest drive of my life, we finally managed to get to safety realising at the same time that had we had an accident, there was no one to help for miles.
We made it to shipwreck bay and sat watching the sunset. When we finally left it was dark andthe car park was deserted and we had our 2nd travel disaster of the day. The car wouldn’t start! After panicking a while, we found a group of Russian guys who couldn’t speak much English but after some miming and charades, we were able to explain our predicament. They managed to fix our broken car and we somehow made it back in one piece.
My friend now always introduces me as ‘ the friend who almost killed me on holiday in Greece…’
Flight Cancellation Saga
Jyoti and Nirmal from Story at Every Corner
Everything went wrong as our cruise-ship docked in Porto Rico, at the end of a fabulous vacation. Our flight home to San Francisco was cancelled. Not rescheduled. Not delayed. But cancelled. The airline had no obligation to do anything.
It was winter and north eastern US had been struck by snow storms. 8000 flights had been cancelled. The ripple effects had spread across US and internationally, so flights were grounded world wide! I know because my friends’ kids were returning from India and they got stuck in Beijing. Getting tourists out of Puerto Rico was the lowest priority for the aviation industry. We were in for five days of adventure and maneuvering to get home. Eventually, after flying for 36 hours we were lucky to get back home. We were lucky we have 1K status with United Alirlines. They did the very best possible under the circumstances – without charging a penny.
The saga was so prolonged and endless that so many memories still seem so clear after about a decade. For example, we had been eating so much on the cruise, we swore we could not eat any more food for a week. But, very soon we were hungry and thrilled to even get one of the very few vegetarian options in that the airport – a subway sandwich!
The airport was packed, we were lucky to find space on the floor to sit. We were extra lucky to get a wall to rest.
Everyone waited in the cruel standby status from one flight to the next in the hopes that they were the lucky ones that day so there was barely any space to sit in the airport. The very few flights that did leave the airport, filled their standby seats with flight crew that needed to reach airports around the country.
We ditched the lines and got on the phone with United 1K customer service and found a hotel in the city to spend the night. After many calls and many outrageous itineraries, we finally got one that had a high probability of taking all four of us home together. But they wouldn’t take our friends.
Eventually we flew from Puerto Rico to Cancun to Washington DC to LA and finally home to San Francisco, reaching home on Tuesday!
It’s all a distant memory now. But, it had a lasting impact on me. Snow storms are no longer just a news headline. My heart goes out to all the people, especially elderly and little ones that get stuck on airports due to weather or technical issues, for them it may be more challenging than a one time memorable adventure.
Getting sick or injured when travelling
A common thing to go wrong when travelling is getting sick. Whether its catching a bug or getting a dodgy stomach from eating something different. I have been ill a number of occasion when travelling.
I try and make sure I have medication just incase I do get sick especially tummy upsets but I have found it often quite easy to find a pharmacy when travelling. Here some bloggers tell us about getting sick when travelling.
Talek Nantes from Travels with Talek
We were in Dubrovnik, a beautiful ancient city on the coast of the Adriatic. We wanted to get to Split, also an ocean side town with wonderful archeological sites including the storied Diocletian Palace. We decided a 3-hour bus ride would be the best way to travel to Split so we could continue seeing the sun-speckled ocean all the way there.
I was so hungry by the time we got to the bus station, but the bus was just about to leave. I did not want to be on the bus for 3 hours with nothing to eat. I saw a fruit stand displaying big, fat, delicious looking peaches and grabbed one. I had a fleeting thought that I should probably wash that peach but there was no water around and the bus was leaving. What are the chances I get sick from unwashed fruit this one time, I thought. I devoured the peach on the bus. Just after we crossed the border from Bosnia-Herzegovina a began to feel a little nauseous. By the time we got to Split I was in pain.
Despite my discomfort, I insisted on seeing Diocletian’s palace. I didn’t come all the way to Split to lie in a hotel room. We got on the palace tour with me alternately sweating and shivering. Finally, at one of the palace courtyards I just let go a heave with everything that was in my stomach. It was so bad I would have made the devil’s performance in The Exorcist look like mere spittle. The experience was so exhausting that I just lay down on the grass and refused to move. You can imagine the spectacle!
A guard came up to us and between him and my husband. I made it to my Airbnb and stayed in bed for two days until it was time to leave Croatia.
Moral of the story…and this is a serious recommendation: always, always, always wash fruit before eating.
Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide
HIKING DANA BIOSPHERE RESERVE (Jordan)
You know those days when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong does? We had a day like that when we hiked 14 kilometers through the rugged desert landscape of Jordan’s Dana Biosphere Reserve, with temps soaring around 100º F.
First our guide, a Bedouin who’d grown up herding sheep in the area, slipped and fell on the rocks multiple times as we made our way down into the valley. After we stopped for lunch and had tea with a shepherd friend of his father’s, our guide was adjusting his keffiyeh and got stung by a Deathstalker scorpion, whose sting is occasionally deadly. He screamed and tried to suck the poison out as his arm swelled to twice its normal size, while we were 7km from anything with no cell service.
Fortunately Bedouin mothers put the ashes of cooked spiders into children’s milk, helping them build up tolerance to the venom. Hours later, as his arm finally shrank back to normal size, we were chased by a rogue camel in the desert as my wife tried to take its photo.
The valuable lessons we learned that day? Always ask how long and grueling a hike will be before you agree to it; never leave your hat on the ground in the middle of scorpion territory; and camels don’t like paparazzi!
Political unrest when travelling
Diana from The Elusive Family
Travelling during a coup
Traveling to Honduras some years ago seemed like a unique experience. There was a family wedding in the capital of Tegucigalpa that would seem like an amazing experience and family members were anxious but curious to be going. My husband and I made a plan to fly to Europe immediately after the wedding was over, but not before we explored the country a bit.
About two months before the wedding, news started to come out of the country that the president was having issues with his party. Then the opposing party. Pretty soon, hostile activity was reported and a few days before our departure, the President left the country, was barred from re-entering and the military established martial law.
State Department advised against travel to the country for fear of getting stuck. However, the wedding must go on. We arrived and spent several days seeing military with machine guns patrolling the streets, standing outside the hotel and we finally heard of flight cancellations and the country refusing some aircraft to leave. Hoping for the best, we arrived to the airport on our departure date and were very lucky to find that our aircraft was cleared for departure, but not before over 20 members of the family were anxious and stressed over the possibility of being stranded in country.
Lesson learned: carefully consider whether going to a country that has internal political issues is a good idea. It’s very possible the government may collapse and order may need to be restored if there is chaos or upheaval. Best to recognize the possibility and avoid any issues of safety and security, particularly if traveling with family.
This has been submitted anonymously but it is quite an interesting story
A Week in Chinese Turkestan During the Uighur Uprising
My husband and I sure picked a bad week to be in Xinjiang province, right in the middle of the protests in Urumqi in July 2009 that resulted in 156 deaths. Though in its own strange way, it was a pretty intriguing experience as well. Here is our day-by-day account, which we chronicled as it was happening at the time:
Monday – “Hey look, there are two army tanks over there…”
We awoke in Turpan after an enjoyable couple of days’ sightseeing and took an early bus to Urumqi, arriving in the provincial capital at about 11:45am official (Beijing) time, or about 9:45am unofficial local time (this government directive for the entire country to be on Beijing time is a ‘feature’ of Xinjiang travel). We needed to get from the bus station to the train station for the 12:57 pm train to Kashgar (for which we already had tickets) but it was hard to get a taxi – several empty ones waved us off, and in the end, we took a three-wheeler.
En route to the train station, we saw two military tanks blocking a street, but didn’t imagine that by far the worst violence in the history of the Uighur Chinese struggle for control of Xinjiang was taking place in the city right then and there.
The train left without incident and at 4:30 pm we received a text message from a Chinese friend alerting us to 140 deaths in Urumqi (later increased to 156). We were lucky not to have been caught in the middle of it, as our original plan had been to be in Urumqi the night before, but we had made last-minute plans to our itinerary.
Without knowing any real details, we were glad to be on a train to Kashgar, still in Xinjiang but 1200km from Urumqi and, basically, the end of China. Kyrgyzstan visas in hand, we had planned to leave China the following Monday.
Tuesday – “Why are all the streets blocked off?”
We arrived in Kashgar at about noon, and all seemed normal at first. We took a bus from the train station to the center and began to walk towards our old city hostel. But all the shops were closed with shutters down, some streets were blocked off, there was a large police presence, and we saw a military truck, so we decided to reverse directions and find a hotel in the new city while we figured out what was going on.
At this point, texting internationally hadn’t been blocked yet, so my husband found out from his brother that a non-violent protest of about 200 people had also taken place in Kashgar the previous day. We found a hotel, were lucky to get some supplies from the one store in the area that was open, and basically bunkered down for the rest of the day, eating two-minute noodles for lunch and dinner.
Sometime after 3:30 pm, all texting – to Chinese and international numbers – was blocked. Fortunately, we could still make mobile phone calls within China, which would come in handy the next day. The Internet was also blocked by the time we checked into the hotel and would remain blocked for the rest of our time in China.
We did manage to see a Chinese news report on the Urumqi protests – though it depicted only Han Chinese as the wounded. We, of course, assumed that some or most of the deaths were a result of Chinese military firing on protesters, but being completely cut off from any information other than that produced by the Chinese government, we really had no idea what had happened in Urumqi. Though it did make us realize how easy it is for a government to completely shut down the flow of information. No wonder most Chinese don’t know what happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989.
A few days later, we were told by a foreigner who was still in Urumqi on Tuesday night that there were more clashes and deaths – unreported by the Chinese media – and that she was forced to stay in her hotel room throughout the afternoon and evening. She said she saw all the shops close en masse and the Uighurs preparing to defend themselves with poles and sticks…
Wednesday – “We cannot take foreigners…”
Getting out of Xinjiang seemed like a pretty decent idea at this point, but our options for leaving Kashgar were limited.
All routes out of western China go to countries for which we need a visa (and none of these could be obtained in Kashgar), and the only visa we already had – for Kyrgyzstan – didn’t start until next Monday. Almost all overland routes out of Kashgar but within China go through Urumqi, except those through Tibet and Qinghai (all or parts of which are currently closed to foreigners who are not on a tour). Flights only go to Urumqi and Islamabad. Besides, with no Internet and no travel agencies open, we couldn’t even buy a plane ticket without going to the airport.
Basically: we were stuck in southern Xinjiang.
Our plan was to take the daily morning bus south towards the mountains and lay low at a mountain lake for a few days while the situation in the cities settled down. But at the bus station, they said there wouldn’t be a bus for three days. Further, a sign scribbled in English said foreigners needed a permit to visit the lake, the first we had heard of that.
The lake was out, then, and so was everything else; it seemed as though no buses or trains were currently leaving Kashgar. We saw Chinese people with train tickets to Urumqi apparently trying to get them switched to bus tickets, but with no apparent success, so it seemed as though everyone was stuck, not just foreigners.
With no other choice, we headed back to our hotel – only to find that they would not check us in, giving us the 1980s-era ‘foreigners need to stay in a four-star hotel’ spiel and saying that they didn’t have a permit to register us. When we reminded them that they had let us stay the night before, they said a new staff member had not understood the rules and had made a mistake. But since multiple people were involved in checking us in, we didn’t believe that for a second. China was going into permit roadblock mode.
Eventually, we found a four-star hotel with rooms for about €30, got some more supplies and bunkered down for the second straight day. Since we figured we had five more days in Kashgar until we could leave for Kyrgyzstan, we thought it best just to stay close to the hotel in the new town. Shops were still closed all day, and in the afternoon we saw five military conveys consisting of between 7 and 10 trucks pass the roundabout that our window overlooked, so the feeling in the city was still pretty tense.
One of the day’s highlights/lowlights was seeing an ‘I love China’ ad on TV that we had never seen before – no doubt being screened around the clock now as the CCP goes into damage control mode. The depictions are China uniting in the face of adversity (such as the earthquake relief in Sichuan the previous May, or during the huge snowstorms that had affected spring festival travel the previous February), celebrating itself and its achievements (the Olympic Games, the Great Wall), and showing cultural images from minorities across the country (though the Uighurs of Xinjiang were noticeably absent from the montage).
All in all, it was probably the most outrageous piece of propaganda I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been to Burma during the military dictatorship and Cuba during Fidel Castro’s reign). The Han Chinese are already fiercely patriotic (perhaps as a result of such ads), but surely the persecuted minorities see right through this whole charade.
Later, we were told that two Uighurs were shotby Chinese military today in front of the Id-Kah Mosque in the old city of Kashgar, and 8-20 more were arrested.
Thursday – “The Uighurs will keep fighting!”
The Uighur side of the story, as told to us by a local, goes like this:
About two weeks ago, 62 Uighurs from a village near Kashgar who were working in a toy factory in Guangdong province in eastern China were thrown from their fourth-floor dormitory and killed. The incident apparently came about because a Han Chinese who had previously held one of the jobs wanted it back, and stirred up resentment towards the Uighurs. The government only admitted to two deaths and brought two bodies back to Xinjiang
But they did not tell the parents of the deceased, and since burying the bodies (contained within plastic bags to hide the mutilation, we were told), the Chinese police guarded the tombs around the clock to prevent the villagers from digging them up and accessing the bodies.
On Monday, as a way to mourn those dead, Uighurs in Urumqi gathered together peacefully for several hours. Chinese police tried to break it up, but the Uighurs maintained that it was a mourning ritual and not a protest. Then, some younger Uighurs turned it into a protest against Chinese rule, and that’s when all hell broke loose. Uighurs and Chinese then began clashing, leading to the 156 deaths.
Meanwhile, we finally ventured into the old city today, encouraged by hotel staff telling us that everything was “normal.” And if normal means dozens of marching soldiers, a huge military blockade around the Id-Kah Mosque and an atmosphere to rival Cold War-era Berlin, then normal it was.
Heightened security aside, the old city was a hub of Muslim activity: fruit, meat and bread sellers sold their produce on the streets to veiled women while donkey carts passed by. It is hard to imagine that somewhere could be more different from China while still being within its borders. Needless to say, it was a nice change from being stuck in a hotel room.
Finally, today’s security news/rumor update from the Uighur side: a passenger bus from Kashgar to Korla, carrying mostly Uighurs, was torched by Han Chinese civilians.
Friday – “You don’t have a permit.”
Needing to get out of Kashgar for our own sanity as much as security, and with the public transport situation still uncertain, we hired a car and driver to take us south from Kashgar on a familiar road – the Karakoram Highway, which rises to the Khunjerab Pass at 4800m above sea level, crosses into Pakistan and then winds down through the mountains all the way to Islamabad – to Lake Karakul.
It was a fabulous trip, past Silk Road ruins, the glacier at Oystag, and barren, deep-red mountains to the gorgeous lake, ringed by 7000m snow-capped peaks. At least on this day, it was virtually deserted, easily one of the most beautiful places we saw in China and the highlight of Xinjiang.
But even here, four hours drive south of Kashgar, which is itself virtually the end of China, the security paranoia continued. In the afternoon, Uighur and Kyrgyz men who inhabit the village on the lakeshore were prohibited by the Chinese police from attending Friday prayers at the local mosque, as though 200 villagers in the middle of nowhere attending a religious service could actually threaten the world’s largest standing army.
Then, at 1 am Beijing time (11 pm local time), Chinese police tried to kick us out of the Kyrgyz yurt we were staying in while we slept and move us to a Chinese-run yurt. The concrete Kyrgyz yurts were actually built by the Chinese so the Kyrgyz herders could house tourists (for which the Chinese government, naturally, extracts taxes), so the whole thing is perfectly above board, but all of a sudden the police pulled out the old Chinese trump card and said the Kyrgyz didn’t have the right permits. Of course, the Kyrgyz can’t actually obtain the permits, which are just the Chinese Orwellian way of retaining veto control over everything.
In the end, our guide resisted and we didn’t have to move (and in fact slept through the whole thing), but two other foreigners were forced from their yurt in the middle of the night. What the Chinese police hoped to gain by preventing Kyrgyz herders (who aren’t even Uighurs) from making €4 per person for full room and board for a day is anyone’s guess.
Saturday – “Stay inside your hotel.”
Returning to Kashgar, we passed by a couple of temporary military checkpoints and were told by the soldiers there not to leave our hotel once we got back into the city. They also said that Karakul would be closed for the next three days, so we were extremely fortunate to have been able to go when we did.
Once we arrived in Kashgar, everything seemed open and OK, but the Han Chinese manager of our new lodging – an old city hostel – said things were too quiet, that something would erupt in 3-4 days. Internet and text messaging / international calling were still blocked, and the military presence in the old city remained enormous, even bigger than before.
Sunday – “There will be police there…”
The biggest attraction in the entire province – the famed Kashgar Sunday market, which we had wanted to visit for at least five years and for which all our Xinjiang planning was done to accommodate – was, of course, canceled. Given how the Chinese police had blocked 200 villagers from going to a mosque in a village in the middle of nowhere two days earlier, it was a no-brainer that they would prevent 100,000 Uighurs from attending their weekly market in the province’s second-biggest city.
Despite this, we were told that it would be open, so we went to one of the two sites only to find that 95% of stalls were closed and hundreds of soldiers were stationed nearby. There, we met travelers who had just come from the Livestock Market, where they saw a few sheep and nothing else – it was also almost completely deserted.
But at least we didn’t have the experience of a couple of other travelers, who drove for hours to begin their overnight camel trek in the desert only to be turned back by the Chinese authorities “for your safety” once they got there. So from the dangerous desert, where there are no people, they were returned with a police escort to a hostel in Kashgar 400m from the Id-Kah Mosque, where two Uighurs were shot four days earlier and where hundreds of Chinese soldiers are stationed round the clock, pointing guns at you as you walk past…
Monday – China in the rear-view mirror
With our Kyrgyz visas beginning today, we could finally leave China, insha’allah.
The weekly bus from Kashgar to Osh was an hour late in departing, but I was so ecstatic that it wasn’t canceled that nothing could have dampened my spirits. Foreigners taking buses from Kashgar to Urumqi this week have reported at least 20 temporary military checkpoints along the way, so we expected more of the same heading to the Irkeshtam Pass. But in fact there were none at all, and when we surveyed the rest of the bus it made sense; the Chinese government makes it extremely difficult for Uighurs to obtain passports, so there were none on this bus – only Uzbeks, Pakistanis, Kyrgyz and five Westerners.
The bus took about six hours to reach the border, and all the while I had it in the back of my head that we could still be turned back at the last moment, as had happened to the desert travelers. My husband somehow escaped the bag search at the border, where the Chinese guard went through the photos on my camera and ripped the map page out of someone else’s guidebook because it didn’t depict Taiwan as part of China. The formalities on both sides were arduous, and the whole process took about three hours, but eventually we made it through. It was almost hard to believe, but the proof was there in our passports: a Chinese exit stamp.
We had been so consumed all week with getting out of China in one piece that it was a complete afterthought to realize, once the bus got going again, that we were, for the first time in our lives, inside the former Soviet Union.
When hotels are not what you thought
Danielle from Live in 10 Countries
I learned the hard way not to rush into a quick and cheap booking when I decided to book a quick weekend stopover in Belgium. It’s a real lesson in not getting caught up in the pressure of booking fast – especially when you’re booking through a third party site and they’re showing you messages all the time about how many people are browsing the site, how few rooms are left and more.
The plan was to simply have a relaxed couple of days in Brussels and to take the Eurostar, so no need to join any airport queues. I left it to the last minute to book and so, in the panic, ended up booking a one star hotel. My fault of course, but I read the reviews and they all seemed OK, plus the photos were nice. ‘It’ll be basic, but clean and simple’, I thought.
As soon as we got to the capital we started to head straight for the red light district, and I knew it wasn’t going to be good. The room was disgustingly dirty, down a corridor with broken floor tiles and a fire extinguisher pulled off the wall. Worst of all, I checked the mattress and it had bed bugs.
We walked straight out after five minutes in that, but the manager just shouted at us that they didn’t give refunds – it says so on the website. If that’s the law, I thought, I’m going to open a hotel in a recycling bin, and when people see it and complain – I’ll just say ‘no refunds’.
We left immediately for another hotel and pursued the refund through the Belgian consumer ombusdman. They were a wash out – responding ‘your reply will come in July’ over and over again until we reached September, and still no reply.
So how did we get our money back? Finally travel insurance saved us. And that’s the most important takeaway – no matter how you mess up on holiday, a good travel insurance policy will cover you. It’s also worth looking for a refund from your bank if you paid by credit card, as many cards off protection on large purchases.
Jason Lee from Mint Habits
All Inclusive Resort in Mexico Gave Away Room & “Couldn’t Do Anything More”
My first time visiting Cancun I missed my connecting flight which caused me to arrive at my resort one day late. It turns out this was spring break weekend and the All-Inclusive I booked was at full capacity.
To my shock when I arrived, they gave my room away to another guest because I never told them I would be late. And on top of that, they made this out to be my fault and would do nothing for me to rectify the issue. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening.
After trying desperately for hours to fix the problem, I was ready to give up and book at whatever hotel had room. But before that, I talked to the reception hotel person and he lobbied on my behalf. He got the manager involved and the manager said he would try but no guarantees.
Well, thankfully, the manager was able to get me a room from a departing guest. Moral of the story is, don’t give up, and get other people involved as they can help you in more way you can yourself. ALSO, I am prepared for a situation like this should it arise again in the future. I have the hotel details in my phone and would give them a phone call if I was going to be late again. This is all part of pre-planning a trip the right way.
Avoiding Airbnb Scams While Traveling
Martha from Quirky Globe Trotter
In the age of the internet, scams are all around us. I usually consider myself fairly media savvy, but I have even fallen for the dreaded, too good to be true, Airbnb scam. As a well-traveled millennial, that’s embarrassing for me to admit. Yet, here I am today, baring the truth and helping you avoid making the same mistake I did.
When I walked into my Airbnb there was no furniture in sight. The property manager who opened the home for me informed me that the Airbnb listing had been staged to entice visitors, but they didn’t have bed frames, kitchenware or even chairs yet for the unit. As an entrepreneur myself, I highly encourage business owners to make business savvy decisions. Yet, this felt wrong and like I had been taken advantage of. The worst part was, amongst the filth, houses and geckos would end up in your bed and there was no way to lock the unit. I feared for my cleanliness and safety and left immediately.
In hopes that you will never have to suffer the same fate I had to, here are some quick tips to ensure that your Airbnb is legit.
Be analytical when looking at the listings
I used to rely on the photos on Airbnb, but now I take a closer look. Is the photo angled in a particular way to obscure the view of something? Are there unnecessary watermarks/glares/emojis on the photos in attempts to hide something? I would definitely steer clear of these listings.
Furthermore, if the listing doesn’t have a detailed description, I would probably choose to book elsewhere. To me, this shows that the property owner did not take the time to even encourage visitors to stay and would raise a huge red flag.
Finally, try to communicate with the host beforehand if you have any questions. If something is unclear in the description the host can hopefully clear up any confusion before you reach the property. Luckily, Airbnb has a great customer service line and can help you in a pinch, but it’s always ideal to not have to waste precious vacation time trying to rectify the mistakes made.
Blame it on the weather!!
Jo from Tea and Cake for the Soul
We try to visit the USA at least once a year, and tend to go in the winter to avoid the cold in the UK. We usually visit California and try to incorporate a bit of relaxing time and a bit of road tripping to see something new. We have always been extremely lucky with the weather ranging from 60-80 degrees.
This February we planned a road trip that would take in California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah.
We arrived to torrential rain in the sunshine state of California. Not a good start but thankfully it cleared the next day and we travelled to Arizona. We were treated to beautiful blue skies for our arrival in Lake Havasu which was to be home for the next two days.
During a leisurely breakfast the following morning, we watched the news on the big tv screens only to see severe weather warnings in place. Thinking they must have it wrong, we checked forecasts and indeed a freak snowstorm was forecast in Sedona and Flagstaff which was right on our route.
Numerous phone calls and internet searches later revealed that we might be able to get to Sedona but the chances of us getting out again and continuing our journey seemed less likely. In the end, we reluctantly had to make the decision to cancel the road trip and head in a different direction.
It was certainly a fraught few hours and extremely disappointing as we had been looking forward to Utah especially. We also knew that we were going to lose a lot of money on hotels and attractions that couldn’t be cancelled at such a late stage.
Thankfully we had Wi-Fi in the hotel and use a phone package that allows calls abroad. I would always advise you have those options available to you as well as hotels with cancellation cover. Unfortunately, our experience showed us just how quickly plans can change when you’re travelling.
PIN IT FOR LATER!!