You’ve planned this vacation for months. You’ve daydreamed about it constantly, casually humble-bragged to your coworkers and carried a dog-eared guidebook practically everywhere. And then something happens. Maybe you miss your connection and find yourself stuck in airport limbo. Or your cellphone is stolen or, worst of all, your passport goes MIA. Occasionally, disaster happens to the best of travelers.
Don’t despair. One minor setback is seldom enough to derail all your plans. With a little work, your getaway can still be amazing. Here’s how to get yourself out of a tricky situation so you can go back to enjoying your trip.
Your passport goes missing
Disaster Prep: Always travel with both hard and scanned copies of your passport in case of emergency. Keep the printout with you, and leave the passport in a secure location.
Damage Control: Don’t panic. Call your embassy immediately and request an emergency passport, which will allow you to fly for a limited period of time. If you believe it may have been stolen, you may be asked to file a police report. Although the printed scan of your passport will expedite the process, other forms of identification can be substituted in a pinch. Be sure to let the embassy know if you plan to fly within 24 hours.
Getting Back on Track: The good news is that while you’re likely to lose several hours and a bit of cash, you’ll still have plenty of time for fun. Rest assured, embassy officials see cases like this every single day, and are likely to be sympathetic. File the necessary paperwork, then go back to having a blast with peace of mind. The pros are handling it.
You miss a connection
Disaster Prep: Pay attention to the length of your layover and the size of the airport when you book your flight. While an hour is plenty of time for smaller destinations, major hubs such as John F. Kennedy International Airport and Heathrow Airport may require a lengthy security process, a train ride and a sprint across terminals. Arm yourself with a printed or downloaded map of the airport in advance.
Damage Control: It’s in your air carrier’s best interest to get you out of the airport and to your final destination as quickly as possible. With domestic flights and popular international destinations, you should be able to score a new seat on the same day. Many airlines will comp food and hotel costs during your unexpectedly long layover.
Getting Back on Track: Should you find yourself having to wait until the next day for takeoff, start your vacation early in your new, unexpected destination. Certain airports, such as Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Zurich Airport offer lightning-fast rail connections to the city. You don’t even have to leave Singapore Changi Airport to enjoy gawking at art installations, strolling through a butterfly garden or dining at dozens of world-class restaurants. Meanwhile, Seoul Incheon International Airport offers terrific free city tours ranging from one to five hours. It may not be quite what you planned, but think of it as a bonus trip before your vacation.
Your luggage disappears
Disaster Prep: You’ve heard it before: You should probably buy travel insurance to cover the value of lost luggage. For short-haul flights, consider skipping the checked bag altogether.
Damage Control: No matter what, do not leave the airport before filing a report. In the unlikely event your luggage doesn’t resurface, you may be eligible for compensation. The Montreal Convention, a treaty that applies to 105 nations, offers up to $1,800 for lost or damaged luggage. If your flight was within the E.U. or from an E.U. country, regulations also offer up to €1,220 in compensation.
Getting Back on Track: After filing a report, take a deep breath and remind yourself luggage is lost and found every day. Airport authorities will update you when your bag turns up. In the meantime, use this as an excuse to splurge a bit and go shopping. You’ll bring home fabulous additions to your wardrobe that will always remind you of your vacation.
Food poisoning strikes
Disaster Prep: Be ready for any illness with apps like TravelSmart, which can find nearby hospitals, international drug names and handy first-aid phrases in different languages.
Damage Control: Luckily, most cases go away within 24 to 48 hours. Be patient, drink lots of fluids, replenish vital electrolytes such as sodium and potassium, and lay low until the worst passes. If yours persists, you may need to visit a local hospital to prevent dehydration.
Getting Back on Track: Rather than pushing yourself, indulge in that fantasy you often have at home: totally chilling out. Binge watch movies, order bottled water and crackers from room service and maybe go for a lazy dip in the hotel pool. If you let yourself recover, odds are high that by tomorrow, you’ll be feeling fine and ready to go out and explore.