I’ve been working in travel for 30 years and have become accustomed to the most common travel phobias! The phobic traveller will always worry that “something” could go wrong! Are you one of them…?
Words: Neda Dorudi – The Forensic Traveller series
Here are 10 of my picks for the most common travel phobias, and how to overcome them!
1) Checking in online has caused the traveller great worries.
This travel phobia is very common. Why? Because the traveller thinks if a problem occurs while checking in online it means they won’t be able to get on that plane. Never fear, as this is really not an issue. Checking in can still be done at the airport and bags can be dropped at the bag drop area, and you can still get your boarding pass at the airport – all this is still possible, it is just a bit more time consuming.
2) The next most common phobia is the worry that bags will be lost, arriving sans sacs.
The answer to this is simple. Should your bags not arrive, you go to the airline customer services – these would be located at the arrivals area, and even in the baggage claim area. You give them your luggage tag and they will have to locate your bags, as it’s very possible the luggage has gone on a flight bound for a different destination than yours. The airline will give you a tracer reference and take your details to get the luggage delivered once found. You can claim compensation for the items you have had to purchase within a certain time-frame (to be advised by the airline); if you have travel insurance you can make a further claim with your insurance company.
3) What if my flight is delayed?
Air congestion is a modern-day travelling issue, as there are so many elements to battle against. The biggest problem is usually the weather, or strikes at airports. It can also be due to the airline losing their slot, so having to wait to get back in the take off queue. Stay calm, and keep checking for updates; don’t let the airlines fop you off, as if the delay goes into the next day, they are obliged to put you up at their expense. Never cancel your reservation, wait for the airline to do that and re-route you, this is referred to as “involuntary change”, meaning not at the traveller’ s request. Once again you can claim for delay from your insurance company, but be sure to have read all the cans and cannots when taking out the policy.
4)The phobias continue, into the realm of seating.
The worry of not getting a good seat. I know the seat I want, but my travel agents have not pre-assigned the seat that I asked for! The seating issue really upsets the traveller, as they cannot understand why a simple request such as this could not have been completed. Well, here are some answers which may help you to understand the nature of pre-assigning seats:
Most Airlines prefer the traveller to assign their seats with online check-in. British Airways, for instance, allows pre-assignment only 24 hours prior to departure, and if you want to pre-assign a seat before the 24 hours then expect to pay a steep fee if you have purchased a cheap ticket and have no executive card of a certain tier. Seating can never be guaranteed, as if the type of airplane changes, so does the seating configuration; this is a common feature. Don’t worry about the seat you never got, just make sure you are the first to get online and get that seat in the future, before anyone else does!
5) What if the weather is bad, and I go back home without a tan?
Yes the weather has reached number five in the worry chart of the phobic traveller. I am afraid there is no quick fix here. It is always best to check the best season for travel to your chosen destination, but Mother Nature may have her own idea and you might not always get the weather you are meant to. My advice is to take excursions and explore your surroundings; before you know it, you will be lying on that beach – don’t ruin your vacation worrying about this. There’s always plenty more to do and appreciate on your time off.
6) Oh no, I paid so much more for my seat than the guy sitting next to me!
Questions running through their minds, why, how, and could I have got a better deal?
Here is some advice: you can all get the best deal at that time that you book and pay for your trip, and it’s possible that someone else somewhere may stumble on a last minute deal, and pay less for more. Airlines are constantly releasing and closing seat availability into systems and they always overbook, because of the no-show factor. And in varying markets there are different availabilities, so it’s all about timing. Go on, enjoy your trip – you did get that best deal.
7) The phobic traveller has arrived at their hotel, and is very unhappy about the room.
They were promised a great room overlooking the sea, instead they have a courtyard room overlooking the hotel kitchen. The phobic traveller is seized with panic at having to endure this room for two weeks.
My advice here is don’t put up with this room, especially if you were promised a large sea-view room.
Hotels are notorious for this, so put your foot down and ask to see the manager, make sure they know you are not happy with this, and you want to be moved to another room. Hotels don’t like bad publicity, and they will find an alternative.
Tips for getting the best deal
Always be one step ahead of the next traveller; keep a chart of all school holidays and bank holidays. The only way to get the best fares is to book in advance. It’s a known fact that close to travel dates air fares skyrocket. Make sure you read the rules and ticket restrictions ensuring that you are covered for a non refundable ticket. Follow these simple steps and you are sure to get the best deal. But be certain of your dates, as when you press the final button, you will have to pay to change your ticket plus any additional costs in the air fare. With online booking so wide open, don’t leave yourself exposed to expensive seats; be smart, and create that holiday chart.
8) Another big phobia for the traveller is around exchange of currency. I hear so many stories of travellers’ woes surrounding currency exchange!
“I was ripped off by this man in the market who told me I was getting a really good rate, but when I checked the rate of exchange in the local bank, I realised what a mistake I had made and how much money I lost“.
Never trust anyone with your exchange other than bonafide banks or bureau de change, and where possible, change your money at home before your journey. There are many outlets, such as banks, post office, bureau de changes, and even department stores. Do some research and check out the best deal, it’s less hassle and your money will be covered by your travel insurance.
9) The fear of missing a flight
This causes great anxiety for the traveller, so much so that some phobics will actually get to the airport as much as five hours before departure, and some even book a hotel near their intended departure airport to protect themselves against this possibility. This phobia is very common, as it’s every traveller’s nightmare. There is good advice at hand here:
Make sure you create a check-list, and run through the list before going to bed. If your flight is early morning have two alarms – one as a back-up in case the other never goes off. Also make sure you have got transportation ready – call the cab company, check the trains are running on time, and be aware of any adverse weather that may mean you should leave earlier.
- Make sure you have got everything ready so when the cab arrives there is no panic.
- Have your travel documents and passports in eye’s view then ensure they are deposited in your handbag. You don’t want arrive without them.
- No need to get to the airport five hours before as the airline check-in wont be open then anyway.
10) Have I got enough validity on my passport, and do I need a visa, I forgot to check this!
Many phobics do not give this a thought when booking and paying for their tickets, as most websites possibly don’t highlight this clearly or not at all! The phobic traveller will merrily book seats and not give these matters a second thought.
Then “PANIC” sets in as they realise they have only three months left before the passport expires; or a visa is required, which may take longer than the time prior to departure. What if they can’t give me a new passport in time, what about that visa? What will I do now?
- Rule number one, when making plans and researching, before booking, check all visa requirements for your destination of choice, and ensure there are no current political problems. E.g. the Foreign Office is a good source of information for British Nationals.
- Always check the validity of your passports, most countries will refuse you entry if you do not have six months plus on your passport.
- Other Nationals can check on various websites regarding visa requirements, e.g. Visa list.
This is the phobic traveller advisory source, please get in touch with any questions, and we will be sure to get you on the right runway.
–>More from The Forensic Traveller: How To Get Your Visa Application Right
Feature image by Hartwig HKD (Flickr Creative Commons).