Holiday helpline: 10 common travel problems and how to deal with them
Missed flights, mosquito bites and lost luggage: 10 solutions to your holiday problems.
We've all encountered some kind of holiday problem before. Whether it's a bad hotel, a lost passport or severe sunburn. Here's a list of 10 holiday mishaps and how to deal with them.
1) Your wallet is stolen
Solution: Contact the local police immediately and make sure you get a copy of the crime report with the statements you have made. Report any missing cards to your bank as soon as possible - they may be able to send you a replacement card or give you an emergency cash advance (dependent on bank). Alternatively, someone from home could always use an online money transfer operator to send you money. It's important that you file a report with your travel insurance company as soon as you can. Most travel insurance companies have strict time regulations regarding when you report the crime to local police, so make sure you don't delay this or you could miss out on your compensation.
Top tips: Keep a decoy wallet with a few local currency notes in case you're mugged. Keep your cash and cards in different locations, rather than carrying everything together. When you buy foreign currency, keep your receipt so the travel insurance company knows how much you've lost. Before your holiday, be sure to make a note of your bank's emergency 'lost or stolen card' phone number.
2) You're attacked by mosquitos
Solution: Don't scratch, as the more you scratch, the more it will itch and the area becomes more inflamed. If you don't already have a first aid kit with you, go to see the local chemist for some remedies.Tea tree oil, calamine lotion, tiger balm, topical anti-itching cream, ice and antihistamine tablets can all reduce swelling. You can also purchase a bite clicker device that stops the itching by inhibiting the release of histamine.
Top tips: Always cover your arms and legs, wear insect repellent that contains DEET, keep bedroom lights off in the evening and the curtains closed, bring a mosquito repelling plug-in and if you're in a malaria zone, always take tablets as instructed by your doctor.
3) Jet lag is ruining your holiday
Solution: Set your watch on the plane to the time of the destination and avoid too much alcohol, caffeine, fat and salt. If you arrive in daylight, stay awake and don't have any naps. Do anything you can to stop yourself falling asleep - go for a walk or have a shower. Going in the sun can also help to reset our internal clocks and exercise is good as it releases endorphins.
Top tips: Prepare ahead of time by changing your sleeping and eating patterns before you go on holiday. Remember the rule: "East to West is best, West to East is a beast". Travelling east is worse for jet lag as we are trying to go to sleep when our bodies are waking up and it feels like you're waking up in the middle of the night.
4) You miss your flight
Solution: Firstly, stay calm and don't panic! If it's your fault that you've missed the flight, whether you are charged to change a flight really depends on the airline, but a lot of staff have the power to waive payment. Make sure you're super polite and apologetic and prepare to be patient and wait until a new flight is available. If you've got a frequent flier account, this will help you. If it's a missed connection because of a previous flight delay, you may even be able to blag some freebies out of it (depending on the airline once again). Also - some airlines may be able to refund your passenger bound taxes if you have to book a different flight, so always ask about this. If you find you have to rebook, naturally Skyscanner is always here to help you search for the cheapest option.
Top tips: Always ask reception for a wake up call and have a backup alarm if you've got an early flight time. Don't leave right at the last minute - you never know what hold ups (weather or traffic delays) there will be on the way.
5) You have sunburn
Solution: Cool the skin as soon as possible with a cold compress and drink lots of water. A rehydration sachet dissolved in water will stop dehydration. Take some anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen and either apply aftersun, calamine lotion or aloe vera to relieve the discomfort.
Top tips: Avoid the sun between 11am and 3pm, wear a hat, use a high factor sun protection lotion, cover up your moles and regularly reapply suncream, especially after swimming.
6) You lose your luggage
Solution: If your baggage hasn't shown up on the conveyor belt - be patient then go to the airline's counter to file a report. They may offer you a bag of essentials (i.e. toiletries) and will take your contact details. Be aware that the longer your luggage is lost, the more compensation the airline will provide. Your travel insurance policy will probably cover lost luggage too so check the wording on your policy. Be aware that if you lose your bag after you've left the baggage claim area, you need to contact the police, not the airline.
Top tips: Label your bag clearly and put something recognisable on it (i.e. a colourful ribbon around the handle) so nobody takes it by mistake. Also take a photo of your suitcase in case you need to show this to the airline. Keep all valuables (as well as medication and glasses/contact lenses) in your hand luggage bag and pack a change of clothes in your carry on bag too. Be sure that the person checking in your baggage attaches the correct destination tag to your luggage.
7) You get food poisoning
Solution: If you've got an upset stomach, stay hydrated and sip lots of water. Take rehydration sachets and try to eat bland foods such as bread, bananas, crackers, scrambled egg and plain rice. Avoid spicy, sweet or fatty fried foods. Try to avoid immediately resorting to anti-diarrhea medicine as it's best to let the condition take its course. If you're vomiting, avoid solid foods until it subsides. If it carries on for more than a couple of days, contact a doctor.
Top tips: Avoid water that isn't bottled as well as ice. Also be careful about bottles where the seal has been broken as they have been refilled. Be wary of fruit and salad (they could be washed in contaminated water). Also stay away from food that has been standing around for a long time and exposed to flies, as well as reheated food, especially rice.
8) You lose your passport
Solution: The first thing you should do is report it lost with the local police, get the reference number then schedule an emergency appointment with your country's embassy/consulate in the city you're visiting. You will then need to fill in a lost or stolen notification form before you're issued a replacement passport. It's very helpful if you have another form of identification with you (i.e. driving license). Finally, contact your travel insurance company as they may be able to help cover the cost of your lost passport.
Top tips: Always have a copy of your passport in your suitcase and on email. It also saves time to have a couple of extra passport photos with you.
9) Your hotel is a disappointment
Solution: Don't suffer in silence - if you've been allocated a bad room, give the hotel a chance to try and rectify the problem. Take photos of what's bothering you and ask to speak to the manager or your travel rep if it's a package holiday. If it's just the room that's the issue, complain immediately at reception and remain calm. In most situations, the hotel will offer you another room or an upgrade. If the problem isn't rectified and you have to switch hotels, be sure to write a letter to the manager when you arrive home. If you've booked through an online hotel provider site, you can write to them about the problem too.
Top tips: Take lots of photos/video evidence if you're not happy. If you pay with a credit card, you may be able to claim the money back with your bank when you get back.
Remember that Skyscanner also has a hotel comparison tool as well as flights.
10) Your luggage is too heavy on the way back
Solution: Don't immediately argue/panic if your bag is too heavy. Take out some of the heavier items and put them in another bag. It may seem a hassle but it may save you the fee. Also be prepared to wear any of the heavier coats you have or swap your shoes for the heaviest pair in your suitcase (every little counts). Rather than complaining, be friendly and politely plead your case (usually it's down to an airline's discretion if you're only around 10% over).
Top tips: Travelling light means a stress-free flight! If you really must pack a lot - take some portable luggage scales with you so the weight of your bag is never a shock.