So after working for 3 years in an Emergency Travel Department for a major credit card company (which you will NOT Discover rhyming with Pisa or Faster Bard) I have decided to share some of the travel tips I have learned by helping people stuck in crappy situations out. Some of these will make you think “Dude that is just common sense” to which I will respond that common sense is practically extinct in the vast populous…. Some of these tips will make you think I am ridiculously brilliant and clever and make you want to send me fabric as a gift for saving you from potential disaster. I’m just saying….
Buy travel insurance. Always. It is relatively cheap and if you end up needing it you will be spared the humiliation of wasting vast sums of money knowing you could have prevented doing so. To prove my point; think of the recent issue of the volcanic ash from Iceland. Remember all those people stuck in Europe, many who got to extend their vacation and business trips unexpectedly for a week or so? Having travel insurance meant that you got a free (ish) vacation extention. Not have travel insurance means you got shafted!
Plan for financial disaster. Imagine being in another country and having your wallet stolen. What would you do? What can you do to make that situation suck less? I would start by adding myself as a supplementary on my own credit card. Most companies will let you do this. This means they will issue you another credit card linked to the same account but with a different number. The advantage is that if the card company has to invalidate (cancel) one due to fraud you will have another to use. This only works if you don’t have them both in the same place. Which you shouldn’t. Always keep some cash/cards separate in case you are relieved of you wallet/purse.
Speaking of wallets and purses. Make sure your purse zips and (for the fellas) don’t keep the wallet in your back pocket (although putting it in your wife’s purse is also a bad idea, what if that gets snatched?) There are certain countries where pick pocketing and purse snatching is an art form (Big shout out to you Barcelona, Rome and London) It is a bad idea to hang your purse on the back of your chair at a restaurant, leave it in the car while you get something out of the trunk ect. If some bloke just walks up and starts chatting you up randomly I would look around for his accomplice who is trying to steal your stuff. Especially at airports and shopping plazas. This is especially popular as you are loading luggage into a rental car or taxi at the airport. If you are robbed please do yourself a favor and file a police report and contact all 3 credit report agencies. If you call my department I will advise you to do this for your own benefit not just to make more hassle. Identity protection can jack up your life for years. It is best to have all the documentation you can get.
A word about luggage. Or many words…. NEVER EVER pack your prescription medication in your checked baggage. EVER. I know what you are thinking… who would do that? Well to be honest LOTS of people. We talk to them everyday. Guess what? If you are outside the country Wal Greens can’t just call you in a refill. You have to see a local doctor and get a prescription for the missing medicine or an equivalent if that country doesn’t offer your exact medication. Always pack a days worth or more of stuff you need in your carry on.
Please just assume the airline will misplace your bag and pack a change of clothes and toiletries to last a day or two. That way a delayed bag is a hassle but doesn’t destroy your whole trip. If you are heading somewhere tropical I would also pack a swimsuit, flip flops and sun screen so I can still enjoy the beach while I call the airline 4 x an hour yelling about my missing bag. Much more scenic than calling from the hotel room. Also packing valuables such as jewlry, electronics or high end hand bags is just asking to be ripped off so don’t be surprised when this stuff goes missing. Acting shocked and hurt is also not going to convince the airline to pay you more then pennies on the dollar of the value of the missing items their employees are most likely enjoying now.
If your bag is delayed DO NOT leave the airline with out filing a claim AND receiving a file reference number (sometimes know as a record locator) If they don’t give you this number they won’t look for your bag. They also won’t let you file a claim over the phone you have to do it at the airport. If you took multiple carriers to get to your destination then the last company you flew on is the one responsible for the bag. EVEN if the first company lost it and the final company never saw it. This is the agreement the airline companies worked out for themselves. So if you flew company A and then had a layover and switched to company B, if your bag is delayed file the claim with company B even if they blame company A, they are just trying to get out of locating it. Having a detailed list of contents is also very helpful. Its hard for me to track a black trolley style bag containing women’s shoes. But locatng a 22 inch Tumi bag that contains 3 pairs of Via Spiga heels in size 9, a red toiletry bag with Lancome skin care and a Donna Karen trench is much easier. Get it?