Flight-Delayed's travel tip #9: Holiday horror (part 1)

What to do in the event of holiday horror? Unfortunately it happens to the best of us. But there are a number of preventative measures you can take. We compiled a number of tips to ensure you are well prepared when you go on your holiday so that you can hopefully avoid holiday horror.

Tip 1: Holiday horror for many - fear of flying

1. Cockpit

Sweaty palms, feeling paralysed by fear and whatever you do: don't look out the window. Even though this is not a great way to start your holiday, for as much as one in ten (if not more) Britons this is a recurring problem: fear of flying. Fortunately, this phobia is very treatable. Firstly, here's an interesting figure for you: 1.3 million people die in traffic annually, but 'only' 497 people died in a plane crash in 2011.

Have you finally made the decision to fly? Good for you! Make sure to be informed about what to do in the event of turbulence or lightning, because knowing what's happening can reduce your sense of being out of control and with that, subsequent fear you may experience. Also, make sure to give yourself some distraction during the flight. For instance, bring a crossword puzzle, have a chat with the person in the seat next to yours, or watch a feel-good movie. Do you think this won't help? Why not take a test flight before you go on your holiday, in a flight simulator. That way, you can experience first-hand that flying is in fact very predictable and safe!

Tip 2: Avoid fraudulent businesses

2. Print

Many things can go wrong once you have booked a holiday. Your travel agent could go into administration, or worse..the company could turn out to be non-existent. So before you book, always check if a travel agent is certified (see also: travel tip #7). Also, always ask your travel agent to give you a print overview of your holiday, and check if the e-ticket number of your flight is referenced.

Another category of holiday horror is that when you arrive at your destination, your holiday isn't at all what you had expected it to be. If this happens, speak to your travel guide. If no travel guide is present at the location, or if you feel you aren't being heard, you can write a letter to the travel organisation upon your return. If they fail to solve your problem for you in a satisfactory manner, file a complaint to a consumer complaints board (the ABTA website has a page with tips for this).

Tip 3: Errors on tickets or visas

3. Douane

Certain types of holiday horror are very much within your control. An example would be an error on your ticket or visa. According to flight ticket search engine CheapTickets, these errors cost air passengers over 10 million GBP annually. So always check beforehand if your details are correct. If, for instance, your name doesn't match with that on your passport exactly, your ticket simply will not be valid. Having these mistakes amended could cost you dearly: you may be charged a fine or administrative fees, and these rates differ greatly between airlines. So don't waste your money!

Tip 4: Getting sick on your holiday

4. Vaccinatie

Sometimes there's just no getting around it: getting sick while you are on your holiday. You then have to track down a doctor or even hospital. Remember to always save receipts of all medical cost incurred by you: you will need these when you claim this back at home.

Of course, there are many things you can do to avoid getting sick in the first place. For instance, start getting information about any vaccinations you may need for your destination. Check this website with foreign travel advice. Also, many workaholics work year-round and then get sick on their holiday. Try to avoid this by taking a few days off before your departure, to 'decompress'. Take this time to get some exersise and to eat healthily. A third tip: make sure not to catch a cold on the plane or bus. Because people usually wear their summer outfit on the way to their holiday, they're ill-prepared for the icy colds of an airplane's air conditioning. So bring something warm so that you won't be sneezing by the pool!

Should anything go wrong on your holiday anyway, don't despair. Most people's insurance will also cover basic care abroad. But keep in mind that the compensation for the amount you spent may be limited. If care is more expensive in the country where you require treatment (which can be the case both in rich and in poorer countries), it's possible you'll only be reimbursed for the amount that same care would have cost in the UK. If you have travel insurance, this gap may be able to be covered by your insurance.

Tip 5: Take out a cancellation insurance

5. Face

After months of looking forward to your holiday, something happens at the last minute and you have to cancel. Divorce, deaths, etc: all reasons that would warrant you to cancel your vacation. Taking out a cancellation insurance for unforeseen personal events could be a smart move.

Do you travel a lot? Take out a continuous cancellation insurance. This is often much cheaper than paying for separate insurances each time you go on a trip. But keep in mind that coverage can vary between insurance companies. Also make sure to check what your cancellation insurance policy considers to be valid reasons for cancelling a holiday. For instance, the death of an extended family member may not count as an 'emergency'.

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