Car crash and flight cancelled due to airport closure.
Two relatively serious incidents in less than 5 days!
And, it could have been a lot worse because some of the roads in the Slovenian mountains are nearly impossible to navigate!
And, fortunately, the Vueling team in Venice where we were when the protesters occupied the airport of Barcelona on October 14, were wonderful and did everything they could to help those of us 0stranded in their beautiful city.
However, this is the kind of scenario that I know throws many persons when travelling.
Particularly when travelling over 50.
Why should I make my life so difficult when I can enjoy the peace and calm of my own home! Right?
Is that what you’re thinking?
Sure, I can’t argue with that…
When we crashed our car driving along the very narrow regional roads in Slovenia, the first thing that came to my mind was this: paperwork, unnecessary expenses, and all our good mood down the window!
But then you look around, and you say to yourself: don’t forget where you are! And don’t forget what you are doing! I felt very, very lucky!
And I swallowed the rage and the nerves, and put on the “problem solver” hat, and got out of it the best way I knew how.
Because it’s absolutely normal.
It’s the bread and butter of travelling.
The chances that our adventures will surprise us with things that won’t go as planned are very high.
But, please, don’t be afraid of that!
You’re going to have to deal with unforeseen events like the ones that happened to me …
Or the ATM will not accept your card…
Or you’ll have the feeling no one understands you …
Or, you will miss your connecting flight and your airline will want to send you to your next destination three days later, turning your entire trip into chaos and complicating your life to the point that all you can think is: this is not worth it.
But it is.
It sooo it’s worth it.
Don’t ever forget it!
Travelling at 50 is worth it…
Travelling, at any age, is worth it.
Unexpected complications could arise at home.
Yes, surely you would know how to manage them better, but that’s the fun of if all, right?
That’s what’s all about!
To live an adventure and to surprise yourself away from your comfort zone!
So, away with the fear!
Don’t worry about what the “what happens if I can’t speak the language?” or “What happens if I get in trouble?” or “What will I do if my flight is canceled?”…
These are all valid concerns, but none of them should dissuade you from embarking on this great adventure.
Things like this happen all the time and can usually be easily solved, especially today with the technologies we have at our disposal!
Remember, what will make the difference, in the end, is how you manage all those contingencies that arise along the way.
I hope that the following tips will help you solve those small mishaps (as long as they are small, of course!) with a lot of patience and a sense of humour:
My wallet has been stolen!
So, as soon as you overcome that inevitable moment of anger, go straight to the bank to inform them of the robbery.
And when I say go straight, I mean of course, immediately call the emergency number of your bank that you should have hidden in a safe place totally separate from your wallet.
What if your mobile phone is stolen too?
Then, head down to the nearest police station, file a police report and ask for assistance in calling your bank.
Make sure you get a physical copy of the police report / lost property.
This will be useful when submitting travel insurance claims or requesting all those replacement documents that you are going to have to request.
What do you mean my hotel reservation has been cancelled?
These days there are so many hotel reservation apps and online travel agencies that a misplaced or cancelled reservation is a fairly common occurrence.
If it happens to you, demand to be given a similar room at a nearby hotel.
Make sure you feel comfortable with the alternative provided.
If you are offered a less than satisfactory option, take evidence and share your experience in social media and travel sites like TripAdvisor so that other travelers know what awaits them.
Also keep in mind that some accommodation providers may release your room if they think you are not going to show up when check-in time has passed and they don’t hear from you. That’s why, I recommend that you inform them of your expected arrival time.
I missed my connecting flight! What do I do now?
This depends on the airline and how you arrived in this situation.
Most will try to find you a place on the next available flight without additional charges (especially if you lost your flight due to circumstances beyond your control).
This was my case when the Barcelona airport closed on October 14.
And I want to take advantage of this space to praise the treatment and management of the team at Vueling, who not only paid us dinner, book us in at a first-class hotel nearby, and paid us breakfast the next day, but also, they returned the cost of cancelled flight immediately!
And to top all that off, their ground team wanted to invite us to a coffee the next day!
Very classy, considering that it wasn’t their fault the airport had been seized by protesters!
But we are not always going to be this lucky!
If you do can’t make it to your onward flight, some airlines such as Air Asia don’t offer a refund nor help you find a suitable connection.
That’s why it’s important to always check the terms and conditions of your ticket.
If you have purchased travel insurance (which I strongly recommend!), check with your insurer to find out the eligibility of your claims.
The earth is shaking!
My daughter recently woke up on the 42nd floor of a building in Los Angeles, which was reeling to the rhythm of the most powerful earthquake in California in the last two decades!
As you can imagine, her first instinct was to grab her bags and rush down to the great streets of Hollywood.
Travelling with her was her boyfriend and a Japanese friend of theirs.
Both, remained very calm.
Their friend reassured her by telling her that he had lived through thousands of earthquakes like these in Japan, most of them while remaining in tall buildings just like the one they were in, perfectly prepared to swing to the rhythm of earth’s shaking.
But, if something similar happens to you and you don’t have a Japanese friend to make you feel better, go to a safe place 😊 and don’t try to carry your heavy luggage with you.
Travel insurance usually covers the loss of personal effects due to natural causes.
Watch what the locals do.
My daughter commented that Californians seemed to go on with their lives as if nothing was happening.
Stay indoors if it is safe.
If you are on the street, look for a safe place away from danger.
If the situation is complicated, go to your country’s embassy.
If this is not possible, seek help from local police or Red Cross staff.
Keep calm and do not be surprised if communications by mobile phone, Internet and telephone are interrupted in the event of a natural disaster.
And remember that, according to the vice president of global security and intelligence at International SOS Assistance, “text messages often work when voice calls don’t.”
They drive like mad and we crashed!
As I was explaining, this things usually happen even to the best of drivers! And that’s because you’ll be driving on unknown roads, in unpredictable conditions, and sometimes, on the opposite side to which you usually drive.
The most important thing is that no one gets hurt!
If it’s only about physical damage to the rented car, – however small and insignificant you may think it is – take photos, take note of what happened, and call your insurer to verify the claims process.
And if you are not insured (I insist again: please do!), You will have to negotiate an agreement as fair as possible with the other party in front of the traffic police and the local authorities.
You should also check with your car rental company for damage costs.
And, above all, don’t fall prey to the Paris Syndrome!
What’s the Paris Syndrome?
It’s a peculiar disease diagnosed in 1986 by Japanese psychiatrist Hiroaki Ota and later confirmed in the French journal Nervure-Journal of Psychiatrie.
Interestingly it seem to happen only to Japanese tourists who romanticise about the French capital in their country and when they finally arrive there they suffer a gigantic cultural shock and disappointment in facing the hustle, the bustle and the stress of the City of Light.
The disease, which annually affects about twenty Japanese tourists a year, is characterised by psychiatric symptoms such as hallucinations, feeling of being persecuted, anxiety and cold sweats.
Yes, the Paris Syndrome is very real.
And it is due to the strong cultural contrast between the expectations of a destination and the reality that is lived upon arrival.
So don’t let the unexpected obstacles that will undoubtedly arise in your adventure stress you, frustrate you or make you hate your destination.
Every country is what it is.
Every country has its beauty.
And every adventure has its setbacks.
Don’t let fear of leaving your comfort zone prevent you from exploring the world!