How to Handle Travel Setbacks

You’ve been dreaming about this trip for ages. You’re all packed up and ready to go. And just when you think everything is going as planned, someting goes wrong. Here’s a couple of common travel setbacks and how you can prepare and prevent them from happening.


A lost or stolen passport

A U.S. Passport stuck in a sandy beach

A missing passport might be the biggest setback for anyone traveling abroad. Even if you sleep with it strapped to your body, there’s still a chance of it getting lost or stolen.


Go to the embassy as soon as possible

It doesn’t matter if you’re leaving the country in a few weeks – get yourself to your embassy stat. Embassies have an emergency passport option, and if you show up in person and explain what happened, you can get a temporary passport within days if not the same day (However, you will have to get a new passport when you return home).


Prepare your documents before you leave

The thing is, in order to get a passport at the embassy, you must already have certain required documentation on hand: proof of citizenship (like a copy of your missing passport or birth certificate), another photo ID, and a passport-sized photo. The best way to prepare for a missing passport is to pack these items before you leave. Also make sure to have your travel itinerary on hand as the embassy will want proof of your tight travel schedule.


A missed flight

businessman at the airport

Not missing a flight is often as simple as getting to the airport with lots of time to spare. You may feel overly cautious, but in the end what matters is that you make your flight! But sometimes the universe is working against you and you still miss it.


First thing’s first: go straight to the airline desk

If you’ve missed your flight, go immediately to the airline desk. They might be able to put you on the next flight. Sometimes you have to pay & sometimes not, depending on how packed or frequent the upcoming flights are. If there’s no availability, ask if any partner airlines have flights or if there’s any the next day. If there are, then the airline attendant might be able to arrange a hotel for you.


If you’ve missed a connecting flight, locate your suitcase

Missing a connector means that your bags might already be on their way to your final destination. Ask a representative if they can locate your suitcase and have it held until you arrive. Always keep those baggage claim tags! In general, it’s helpful to bring a change of clothes and a toothbrush in your carry-on bag just in case you’re stuck somewhere without luggage.


Lost luggage


“On pins and needles” is the best way to describe the atmosphere in any baggage claim area. Most of the time you’re able to sigh with relief when you see your bag slide down the conveyor belt. But sometimes you’re out of luck and your luggage just isn’t there.


Talk to baggage claim

The best option is to go to the baggage claim counter and have your baggage claim ticket ready. Never toss out that precious piece of paper for this exact reason! The representative will have you fill out a missing luggage form. Your bag may just be on a later flight or on the wrong plane, in which case it can be recovered soon. But sometimes it’s gone forever. If that’s the case, you’ll file a claim for damages where you’ll estimate the value of the items in your bag.


Always remember to mark your bags!

While losing luggage is not completely preventable, there are steps you can take that might up your chances of getting it returned. Marking your bag is number one! It’s fine to have a contact tag on the handle of your suitcase, but it’s best to also put your personal & contact information on a piece of paper inside. Make it easy to find, say in the front pocket or directly on top of your clothes.


Another tip: Make your luggage look unique! It’s easier and quicker for the handlers sifting through dozens of lost bags to pick out the one that’s NOT a medium-sized black suitcase. The easier they find it, the faster you might get it back. Buy luggage in a bright color or with a pattern. Don’t want to make a fashion statement? Attach a piece of neon tape or a brightly-colored scarf to the bag handle.