Holidays are those little windows of sunshine in our lives- lives that for most people consist of a pretty dreary nine to five toiling and slaving and putting the pennies away, subjected to unreasonable deadlines and the whims and fancies of cranky bosses. They are the three weeks of the year when office bodies the world over morph into the independent, free spirited person they always imagined themselves to be- a time to kick back, a time to let loose and a time to rise above the mediocrity of routine. But holidays are not always peaches and cream- travel nightmares are all too common these days and unfortunately a ruined holiday can also mean a ruined year. We look forward to a holiday so much, thinking, dreaming and speaking about it non stop for months and months. So when it does eventually roll round and everything goes to hell the anticlimax can be too much to handle. Cue serious holiday blues, severe grouchiness and a firm resolve to stay at home next time.
Its the little hiccups that can ruin a holiday. We’ve all had them before- they happen very easily, yet have catastrophic results. You forgot to check the time zones and missed the flight by an hour. The reference number for your tour has mysteriously disappeared. You didnt confirm your booking, the flight is overbooked and because you got there so late youve been bumped and placed on standby. You forgot which hotel you booked into. The hotel has no record of you… did you even book at all? Its a planning thing really- a well thought out and well planned holiday will run smoothly nine times out of ten so long as you remember the small details. To help you do this, Discovery Car Hire in Australia have created a free online Travel Planer which you can access at http://tplan.net. You enter all your travel details into the planner, whether it be accommodation, flights, tours and car hire, and Tplan methodically organises them and lets you print them out as a hard copy. You can also save it online, and access and change the details from anywhere in the world. Give it a go the next time you travel, it could just save your holiday.
Of course there are some things that go wrong which we have no control over. Lost luggage is the scourge of air travellers everywhere, and is bound to happen to you at least once in your lifetime. In fact there is a 1 in 150 chance that when you travel internationally your baggage is going to be lost. So try to pack anything valuable or sentimental in your hand luggage and keep it on you. Medication is a no brainer, no one wants to be seperated from that. If your luggage does get lost, let the airline know straight away, but dont be too hopeful about getting any compensation. You need receipts for everything of real value in there, and even then the airline will classify it as second hand goods and only pay out a portion of the value. Really the only option is to be positive and try not to let your holiday be ruined by the whole mess.
When visiting poorer third world countries the issue of theft rears its ugly head. It happens everywhere of course, but is more common in these places. We are all on a budget when we travel, and to have that disrupted by the loss of a wad of cash or a wallet can be fatal to the trip, as can the theft of travel documents like passports. The best way to avoid pickpockets is to try not to look like a tourist, because tourists always carry cash. Avoid those stupid ‘bum bags,’ opt instead for an inconspicuous money belt or large pockets on your trousers with zips on. Carrying cash altogether is a bad idea- this is the new millennium and ATM’s are everywhere. Travel cheques are a safe option as well, as it doesnt really matter too much if they get nicked. Just be aware of whats going on around you- keep an eye out at all times, and if an area is notoriously high risk then try and avoid it.
The fastest ticket to a wrecked holiday is you or someone in your family getting sick. Diarrhoea afflicts huge portions of travellers keen to try out foreign culinary delights, unaware that their constitution just cant handle them. Young travellers are the most prone as they are the adventurous ones, but everyone gets their share of the holiday runs. Try to avoid desperately dodgy looking restaurants, and especially in third world countries stay away from water not served in a bottle. Ask for your soft drinks to be served without ice, as ice can still harbour the germs that was in the water. Do your homework on wherever you are visiting and find out what the common illnesses there are, and what preventative medicine to take. Prevention is better than cure, especially if you are in remote regions.
Just a bit of care and caution and a lot of planning can go a long way to ensuring your holiday doesnt devolve into a complete nightmare. Lets face it, you deserve to enjoy a successful break and so should do everything in your power to make sure you get one. A gadget like the Travel Planner can help give you peace of mind when you travel, and peace of mind can go a long way to easing travel tensions. If factors out of your control ruin your holiday, dont be too despondent… chances are they wont happen twice in a row, so gear up and get ready for your next one!