Four Vacation Catastrophes and How to Plan for Them

About an hour ago we were all packed up and ready to head to the river for an afternoon of lazy fun. Then the car wouldn’t start. It sounds like it’s the alternator and, well, we’ve sort of been expecting that to give out. Thankfully it happened in our driveway and not out in the middle of nowhere, but that’s just me trying to find the silver lining to a big cloud of disappointment.  So while we’re waiting on a tow truck, this feels like as good a time as any to review some of the most common things that can go wrong during a vacation–and how to best plan for them. Since we’re on the subject, we may as well hit this one first:

Car Trouble

It happens: You get a flat tire, you run out of gas, your old car doesn’t start. If you’re going to take your own vehicle on a vacation with you, there are two solid ways to prepare. The first is preventive maintenance. It’s not a bad idea to have your trusted mechanic take a look before you drive a long distance. Have your tires serviced as well. A well-maintained car is less likely to give you trouble on a road trip; however, stuff happens. This is why a roadside assistance plan is a good idea. You can opt for AAA or a similar plan through your insurance or credit card. Make sure your plan gives you an appropriate amount of coverage for the adventure you’re going on–both in its scope and in its geographic area. When in doubt, you can always rent a vehicle.

Credit/Debit Card Troubles

Imagine arriving in paradise, checking into your hotel, and trying to buy a round of pina coladas at the bar when your credit card comes back declined. That’s no fun! Usually this can be resolved with an app on your smartphone or a call to your financial institution, but what if you’re off someplace where the reception isn’t so great? What if it’s the weekend? The preventative maintenance for your platinum credit card (or: insert your own type of debit/credit card here) is to set up travel notifications so that your bank knows you’ll be trying to ring up purchases in, say, the Maldives. Or Ohio. Additionally, it’s a good idea to make sure you know how the process works if your card is declined, lost, or stolen.

Lost Luggage

Another vacation catastrophe to prepare for is that of lost luggage. It would be sad to arrive in Costa Rica with nothing but half a bag of trail mix and the James Patterson novel you bought on impulse at the airport. Airlines do occasionally misplace the luggage of their passengers, so it’s always a good idea to pack the essentials in your carry-on. If it’s going to be cold in your destination but it’s warm in your departure town, you should still take a jacket with you on the plane. Toiletries, a bathing suit, a change of clothes–bring them all on the plane with you. This will help you relax more as you fly since you won’t be worried (as much) about your checked baggage. And there’s bonus points for traveling with only carry-on baggage.

Accidents and Illness

Finally, let’s look at what happens if you become hurt or ill while you’re on vacation. To prepare, check with your health insurance provider to find out what is covered while you travel. Make sure you know the procedures in case something does happen while you’re outside of your hometown. If you’re traveling internationally, there may be a completely different–or even nonexistent–protocol with your insurance; you may need to purchase travel insurance for this purpose.

Vacations are meant to be fun! With a little research and preparation before you leave, some of the “disasters” that crop up when you’re traveling can be more easily handled. When that’s the case, the vacation has a tendency to stay fun. Well, the tow truck is here. Gotta run! Good luck!