The more you travel, the more you learn. Still, no matter how much experience you have on land, sea or in the air, things will go wrong. While it’s nice to approach life with a positive point of view, you are doing yourself a disservice if you’re not anticipating the possibility of a less than perfect trip. Thinking about things that might go wrong and what you would do if they did should give you peace of mind for two reasons. One, you might be able to do something before you ever leave your house to avert disaster. And, two, anticipating how you might react ahead of time may help you remain calm should the worst happen. Now that we have that clear, let’s take a positive, proactive look at the potential negatives.
- You can’t fool Mother Nature. Natural disasters happen. If you are traveling to an area known for its earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes or other unpredictable occurrences educate yourself. If you are planning a Caribbean cruise, it’s helpful to know that the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. You can travel outside of those dates or you can purchase travel insurance. Doing nothing leaves you open to losing your vacation entirely.
- Ignoring things does not make them go away. We live in precarious times. Many destinations once thought to be perfectly safe are now in upheaval. Pay attention to what is going on in the areas you plan to visit. Download the U.S. State Department’s free app – Smart Traveler – to get alerts, maps, embassy locations and other pertinent information. If you know your destination to be prone to outbreaks of unrest, protect yourself with travel insurance. If you are in a destination prone to violence, be alert. Check a map of each city so you know where hospitals, embassies and police are located. Better safe than sorry.
- Redundancy. Redundancy. Make copies of your passport, credit cards, list of phone numbers, prescriptions and other important paperwork. Travel with one set of copies (located somewhere different than where you carry your passport), and leave a set with a trusted friend or family member. If you do lose your passport, go to the closest embassy as quickly as you can. Even with your back up passport, be prepared for a mountain of paperwork and waiting but it is far easier than if you are left with no identification.
- Learn to travel light. Do whatever it takes to avoid checking a bag when you travel. Most travelers are guilty of over packing. If you must take a check-in bag, there is always a chance it will get lost. With this in mind, keep a change of clothes, toothbrush, medications and a mini toiletry kit with you in your carry on bag. As you begin the search for your luggage remember that most people respond in the manner in which they are treated. If you are angry and nasty, odds are that is how you’ll be treated. Luggage gets lost. It’s not a conspiracy against you. Try to keep your sense of humor. If you know you’ll be checking a bag, check with your credit card company to see if they offer baggage insurance – most do.
- Have a plan. The idea of just taking off on a new adventure is thrilling and makes you feel spontaneous. The reality, though, is that this is a good way to miss the things you most want to see. If you want to see Pompeii and arrive to find the bulk of the site is closed for restoration, won’t you be disappointed? Make a plan. Check into buying tickets in advance rather than standing in line for hours at your destination. You can always change the plan when you arrive but, having the plan will help you see all you can see.