All-Time Worst Travel Scenarios (And How to Get Out of Them!)
Of course we hope an NYC cabbie never drives off with your valuables! But if he does, or if you crash your rental car, end up in a foreign jail, or… well, you get the picture: We can help!
3. Pack a good first-aid kit with bandages, antibiotics, and, if you're going to be in an undeveloped country, your own syringes. Bring your own medications from home, too, since expired, as well as counterfeit, medications are a problem in some countries (sugar pills in place of active malaria pills, for example).
4. Before your trip, register on Iamat.org, a free service that screens medical clinics around the world to make sure the facilities are adequate and English is spoken.
YOU LEAVE VALUABLES IN A TAXI CAB
Your taxi driver takes you to Marrakech's main square, where there's such a commotion between the spice hawkers and snake charmers that by the time you realize you've left your camera in the backseat of the cab the driver has rounded the corner, out of sight.
How to Cope
While cities with large taxi and public-transport networks—London and New York City, for example—have a central number to call to report lost property, in most places around the world you will be relying on the goodwill of your taxi driver for getting your stuff returned (even where goodwill is given, it's still a long shot that he or she will be able to find you, of course). "If it's gone, in a majority of cases it will be gone for good," says Hall from Lonely Planet, who speaks from experience—he left a video camera in the backseat of a cab in Syria, never to see it again. If you took a city's official taxi service, try calling the central dispatch to tell them where you were picked up and dropped off, with approximate times, in case there's a chance the cab can be traced. But prepare to be disappointed.
4 Tricks to Avoid the Problem
1. "The first point is not to get flustered when you're getting out of a taxi," Hall says, "Sometimes, you arrive somewhere and people are trying to sell you stuff, but don't get out of the taxi until after you have paid the driver and taken a good look around."
2. Opt for official taxis over cheaper, fly-by-night operations—not only is it safer, but it also helps with tracking, too. Hall recommends ordering taxis through your hotel. Quite often, the hotel will have a long-term relationship with the taxi service, which may be helpful in tracking down lost objects for guests.
3. Tip your driver. It can help to keep you at the top of their mind if you happen to forget something inside.
4. Label your gear with a "return card." After all, Good Samaritans do exist. Also, check out a new service, Reward Tag: It provides a tag you stick on valuables that offers a reward in case they are lost and found.
YOUR HOTEL CANCELS YOUR RESERVATION
You reach your destination after a sleepless transatlantic flight only to find that the French hotel's response to your missing room reservation is an unhelpful "Je ne sais pas."
How to Cope
Nicole Hockin, who writes the TravelSmartBlog for hotels.com, says to stay calm. "Keeping your cool helps the hotel staff keep their cool, too," she says. "Sometimes the problem is as simple as your name having been keyed in incorrectly when the reservation was made." If you have printed proof of your confirmation, Hockin says, this is the time to show it. As long as you can prove you had a reservation, the hotel should be able to find a source of accommodation for you. Also, call the online site that you booked through right away (one of the benefits of booking through an online agency is that they have a wealth of resources to get you re-accommodated). "The sooner they know there's a problem, the faster they can assist you," Hockin says. If your hotel doesn't have any availability, ask if they have a sister property in town where you can be rebooked at no extra charge. "You should also ask for a transportation voucher to get there," she says. "And if the property where you're rebooked isn't the same standard as the original hotel, ask what they'll be refunding you. Don't be afraid to ask for a restaurant credit—what will it take for you to be satisfied? Don't hesitate to have that conversation."
4 Tricks to Avoid the Problem
1. For peace of mind before you travel, the best strategy is to call the hotel a few days before your arrival to verify your reservation. Even if you booked through a third party, you can call the hotel directly to confirm this.
2. If you plan to arrive late, advise the hotel so they'll know to hold your room.
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