Flight-Delayed's travel tip #11: Holiday horror (part 2)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

This week, we bring you part two of our tips to prevent holiday horror. Because unfortunately, the list of what can go wrong goes on and on.. But after reading our ten tips, you're sure to go on your holiday much better prepared. And if something does go wrong, you will know what to do. So read these tips and enjoy your holiday!

Tip 1: Lost luggage

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Nothing is worse than arriving at your holiday destination only to find out the airline has lost your luggage. But there are a number of things you can do to minimise the chances of your luggage being misplaced and also minimise the stress that could result from it. For instance, you can pack your most essential items in your hand luggage. That may be medication, important document or valuables, but also basic items to get you through the first day. Additionally, you can mark your cabin luggage using bright stickers or a luggage belt, that of course simultaneously ensures your suitcase won't spring open when being thrown onto the conveyor. And lastly, be sure to attach a label to your luggage, listing your name, destination, mobile phone number and home address (on the inside of the suitcase). If you do all these things, you can avoid someone else accidentally taking your luggage home with them, as well as your luggage ending up in a back room of the airport, along with other undeliverables.

Does the airline lose your suitcase anyway, or is it damaged when you get it back? Make sure to fill out a Property Irregularity Report (PIR form) as soon as possible. With this form, you can lodge a complaint, and also qualify for potential compensation. Has your luggage still not turned up after 3 days? Then get a Baggage Inventory Form (BIF). This form must be submitted to the airline no later than 21 days after arrival. Fnd more information on these forms and procedures.

Tip 2: Robbed on holiday

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Being robbed while on holiday is something you want to avoid at all cost. So make sure not to get distracted while getting money from an ATM so that no one can steal your code. Are you on a train or bus, by yourself, and can you simply not keep your eyes open? Attach your luggage to the baggage rack with a small lock. Thirdly, make copies of important documents and bring them with you when you go on your holiday (separately from the originals), or email them to your own email account. The embassy will be able to help you get a replacement travel document much faster if you still have a copy of the former one.

If you do end up getting robbed, go to the local police station to report the theft right away, and make sure to block your accounts (bank, phone, etc.) Upon return home, contact your insurance agency to find out if you can get some of your money back. Of course, this will only be possible if you took out travel insurance. Also, keep in mind that coverage and conditions may vary between different agencies and insurances. You can compare insurance policies on websites such as Money.co.uk.

Tip 3: Bugs and bug bites

In terms of bugs and vermin, we aren't used to much in Western Europe. So it can be an unpleasant surprise when you run into the other locals at your holiday destination. For instance, cockroaches are a common thing in many countries. Luckily, cock roaches aren't dangerous, nor do they bite. But other critters do: mosquitoes and ticks. And in faraway destinations like the tropics, mosquitoes aren't quite as innocent, as they can spread serious illnesses such as malaria. So check for preventative measure before you leave, for instance getting vaccinated and bringing a mosquito net. Gov.co.uk has a web page with travel advice per country.

3. Bedbugs

Closer to home, another insect is gaining ground: the bed bug. Everyone knows the children's rhyme 'Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite'. But not many people know that bed bugs are real, and becoming an ever greater problem in Western countries. These small insects are parasites: they feed off human blood. They can be found in and around beds, and hide during the day. If you notice a lot of 'mosquito bites' while on holiday, and notice that they are located mainly on your torso, you should seriously consider the option of them being bed bug bites. Unfortunately, the insects aren't just found in cheap and dirty hotels: if a single (female) bug gets a chance to nest somewhere, it quickly becomes a pest that regular cleaning won't rid. However, it is true bed bugs are more likely to be found in locations where there is a high turnover or circulation, such as hostels.

So how can you avoid ending up in a bug-infested bed? Check rating websites such as Tripadvisor and Expedia, and scan for bad reviews. If someone has commented on a strange allergic reaction to the sheets, chances are they were talking about bed bugs and didn't know it. Then once you get to your hotel, check your room: pull the corners of your sheets out (check for light brown or black insects of a few millimetres, or for old blood stains) and move the night stand. Should you come into contact with the bugs despite these preventative measures, know that they aren't threatening to your health. Everyone responds differently to bites: while some people get huge bumps, on others the bites aren't even visible. If you have a strong reaction to the bites, you can get a basic over-the-counter antihistamine. And most importantly: make sure not to bring these nasty critters home with you! Follow the tips from this WikiHow page, for instance: never place your suit case directly onto carpeting, as they like to nest there.

Tip 4: Food poisoning

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Food poisoning is a common occurrence for holidaymakers. Luckily, it's something that usually goes away after a few days. But better to prevent it! Keep in mind that the quality of tap water isn't the same everywhere. So ask a local whether the tap water is potable before you drink any. And also be sure to keep in mind that the water may not be suitable even to be used for brushing your teeth, and that you should keep your mouth closed while showering. Additionally, beware of food that may have been prepared with this water and that wasn't cooked afterwards. In some countries, it may not be wise to eat fruit or raw vegetables, unless you buy it yourself at the local supermarket and wash it with (cheap) bottled water.

One last tip: some foods simply have a higher chance of giving you food poisoning, so why not just stay away for it for the duration of your holiday? Think raw meat, ice cream and other dairy. This could vary per country, which the National Travel Health Network and Centre's website can help you with. Should you get sick after all, check part one of our holiday horror travel guide (specifically tip number 4).

Tip 5: Delayed by train or plane (inside EU): what to do?

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Regarless of whether you travel by plane, train, boat or bus, there are rules in Europe for delays and cancellations. So if you are delayed, there are set rules determining whether or not you are entitled to receive compensation. Regulation on flight delays is also applicable to flights coming from a country outside the EU, or flights departing from a European country to a non-EU destination.

In all cases of delay and cancellation, compensation isn't due when the travel company could not have avoided the delay or cancellation, meaning it was the result of force majeure or extraordinary circumstances. In some cases (with long delays), your cancellation insurance can help.

As far as flight delays go: naturally, Flight-Delayed.co.uk can help. Information on Regulation and how to claim compensation can be found here. Or you can get free advice about your flight delay by submitting your flight data into our flight calculator.