Back-up plan central to travel preparedness

Traveling can be an incredible high—exploring new terrain, sampling exotic cuisine, and interacting with people from different cultures. The flipside is that any trip can change from dream to nightmare, often through no fault of the traveler.

That’s why it’s good to think about possible disruptors to one’s travel happiness and come up with alternative plans for key points to one’s itinerary just in case.
Being prepared helps to allay some of the anxiety of having to deal with upheavals to travel plans and can be a time saver.

Here are a few suggestions:

• Doublecheck all bookings at least one or two weeks before taking off for one’s trip. Reconfirm that nothing has changed with arrival/departure dates and times, hotel or condo availability, as well as excursion bookings.
• Take photos on one’s phone of important documents such as passport, credit cards, identification, itinerary, etc.
•Consider printing some documents and carrying them in case a phone gets lost or stolen. Forwarding photos or a paper copy of essential documents to a trusted friend or family member which could be a lifesaver if something goes awry while traveling.
• Do research ahead of time and have a list of alternative hotels, excursions, transportation options which can be incredibly handy in case reservations end up being cancelled or postponed at the last minute. This allows pre-checks of price, quality, reviews, amenities, etc. of alternative options.
• Make sure customer service contact information for all bookings is close at hand.
• Pay attention to vendors’ refund policies related to cancellations and delays. Know your rights. Notify vendors immediately to request a full or partial refund when problems arise and assistance with rebooking or other options.
• Pay attention to local weather in advance and while traveling as it can often severely affect travel plans. Be proactive in making inquiries and changing plans. Remember, those first to seek changes to flights and hotel reservations are often more successful in getting what they want than those who wait to rebook later.
Sometimes before even taking off for vacation, one finds out that well-planned trip details have imploded.

This summer while planning a family and friends Florida trip, I had two different vacation rental companies cancel my reservation within weeks of my departure date. One was due to construction at the condo (didn’t they know this at the time of booking) and in the other case a guest damaged glass bar in the rental unit made it too dangerous to accommodate guests. Alternative accommodations were offered by both companies, but I requested refunds (received both) and booked another condo through a different rental company.

Despite the stress of having to make last-minute changes to my itinerary, the trip was perfect, and everyone enjoyed the destination and accommodations.

Late last year a girls trip to New York City was almost ruined when I found out accidentally that the hotel where we were booked was still under construction and hadn’t opened. After contacting the property, they agreed to pay for our reservation at another higher-priced hotel.

These situations demonstrate that one should never assume having reservations means your work is done.

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