Travel is all fun and games until you lose all your money and end up sleeping on the street surrounded by the neighbourhood cats (yes this happened to me). From losing your passport to sleeping through your train stop, if you are travelling for longer than two weeks then you are bound to run into a couple of problems.
Do you break down, place a sobbing call to your mum and hop on the next plane home? Or do you have a good laugh at your stupidity and get on with your trip? Hopefully the latter but if you’re like me then you probably do a little bit of both. I like to have a good cry and call my (ever-so-patient) mum. For some reason, even though I am 23, I still think that my mum has the solution for everything. I think even if I was bleeding from the eye, I would still give my mum a quick call first.
The conversation would probably go something like this-
Jo: MUUUUUUUMMMMMM (the more u’s and m’s I use, the more serious the situation is)
Jo: I’m bleeding out of the eye!!! HALP.
Mum: Go to the hospital… (How many of you have mothers who overuse fullstops?)
But in the odd case your mum doesn’t know what to do, I thought I would write up this quick and handy guide for dealing with travel mishaps. This is not your average “call your consulate” or “contact your insurance” advice but a guide that makes room for crying and consolatory flirting with a cute hostel boy.
I would also like to note that all of these things have happened to me in the past 6 months. Don’t believe me? Just ask my mum.
You drop your passport in the ocean/bath/toilet and now your passport photo looks like a crudely done hack-job done by a guy you met in a dark alleyway.
Now I don’t know quite what happened to my passport but somewhere between thai island hopping, torrential downpours and the fact that I took it on a dive excursion with me, it got a little wet. Conveniently (sarcasm) the only page that got wet was the picture page and the only part of that page that got wet was my picture.
This predicament left me with two options. The first being the “adult” option. This involved postponing some flights, heading to the closest Australian consulate, dishing out some money and getting a replacement passport in 10-12 days. The second option would be to spend the next nine months in constant, cold-sweat-inducing fear of being arrested at each and every immigration check point. This was the choice that I made. In fact at every immigration, I pictured being taken to a little room with one glass wall and being interrogated for information concerning my identity. My daydream almost always ended with me banging on the glass wall, screaming for help as they dragged me to prison.
My advice? Get your damn passport replaced. It’s not worth the stress.
You’re not allowed on your flight because of “booking issues”.
Now let me clarify that I travel standby. This means that because my family works in the airline industry I get cheap plane tickets. Yes, I realise this is awesome and I’m not complaining for one instant. However this mode of travel does bring about it’s own unique stress. The main one being that if the plane is full then you are not getting on. You can wave that plane goodbye with all it’s smug, full-fare paying passengers onboard. It also means that sometimes you don’t get the same courtesies as paying passengers. Sometimes it even means that the flight-checker-in-people (what are they called??) can be downright rude.
Having had an amazing time in Finland and having met so many lovely Finns I didn’t expect to be met with a cold “your booking and your listing are different, we can’t let you on the plane”. Normally this wouldn’t be so bad because generally I have no where important I need to be but in this instance I was trying to get to Bestival on the Isle of Wight which was due to start that night. Not being any good at confrontation, I went to the bathroom and had a little cry. Then I sprung into action and consequently made a very stupid mistake.
You booked your flight for the wrong day or year.
With Bestival looming, I jumped on my phone and pulled up Kayak to see if there were any cheap fares to London. It came up with a fare from London to Helsinki for AUD$120. It was almost too good to be true! I pulled out my credit card and relaxed in the knowledge that I would be getting to that music festival on time. Turns out, it was too good to be true. The check-in lady kindly informed me that I was one year too early for my flight. I had booked the flight for 2015.
So what do you do? Luckily, you can cancel those flights up to 24 hours before departure. You might get all of your money back or at least some of it. The unlucky part is that you are probably going to have to pay top-dollar for a new and correctly dated flight.
As for me, after many panicked phone calls, I was able to sort out my standby ticket issues and jump on a plane leaving that night.
You lose your purse complete with all your money, cards and I.D (except your passport!).
Now as far as travel disasters go, this is a pretty bad one. I am the first to put my hand up and say “I did all the wrong things!”. The first and most stupid wrong thing that I did was keep all my money and all my cards in the same place. That meant that when I lost my purse in the back of a black London cab, I had in my possession about $3. Not really enough for a hostel room is it? And that is how I ended up sleeping in a park in central London. A story that I think deserves its own little blog post or two so watch this space.
Your computer breaks down. Just when you have that important article to write.
This one is for all you blogging babes out there because what normal traveller in their right mind lugs a laptop across 11 countries. However for bloggers a laptop is about as necessary as your right arm (you can live without it but it would suck big time). So, after three incredible days at Bestival, I sat down eager to write an article for The Travelettes on the experience. I pulled out my faithful MacBook Air, switched it on and.. nothing. Black screen. Doesn’t charge. Not even the rainbow wheel or white screen of death. Nothing.
The black screen reflected my growing despair and not even bashing the on/off button for twelve minutes worked (fancy that).
So what do you do?
1. Cry a little.
2. Google a thousand different ways to fix your MacBook. One of which suggests putting your computer charger under your armpit to warm it up (i did this).
3. Call the company. Get them to suggest where to get your computer fixed. Get addresses.
4. Flirt with semi-cute Apple employee to try and get them to prioritise your computer.
5. When this plan fails, decide they weren’t that cute anyway.
6. Wait 10-12 days for your computer to be fixed.
Or in my case, have your computer be declared super broken. Luckily, mine did turn on eventually but it is about as temperamental as a toddler at Walmart.
So there you have it! Five travel disasters and five (probably terrible) nuggets of advice.
Have you ever had any of these things go wrong in your travelling career? What did you do? Does your mum know how to fix every situation? Let me know in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.