Now that air travel has returned, so has the rise of travel emergency situations and occurrences. Don’t believe us? Just look at the last few months, where travellers arriving in European and British airports have reported a significant increase in lost baggage, lengthy flight delays and overcrowded waiting lounges filled with disgruntled passengers.
Not exactly the ideal start to your holiday, huh.
The truth is that travel emergencies can happen to everyone. No matter how much planning you’ve done in advance, there are some emergencies that you just cannot foresee. It’s one of those things where nobody wants it to happen to them, or maybe you think it won’t happen to you until you find yourself stuck in the airport for hours trying to figure out how to rebook a missed connection and all the airlines are reporting full flights.
In those moments, it’s best to have these handy tips on standby. The next time you’re facing a lost passport or a hotel room theft, you’ll be prepared.
Let’s start with the obvious thing on everyone’s minds: what do you do when your luggage goes missing while in transit?
First, file a claim with the airline company. Most airlines allow you to file a lost baggage claim within 24 hours of arrival, so it’s crucial to keep to that timeline. Beyond that, airlines may not be able to help as readily.
Secondly, file a claim with your travel insurance provider. The importance of travel insurance cannot be overstated, and you want to make sure you have one that covers you amply in case your belongings go missing.
As much as possible, try to keep your most important valuables like medication or laptops in your carry-on bag, so you can avoid extra anxiety.
Thirdly, take adequate precautions. TikTok users have been advocating the use of Apple’s AirTag and keeping one in your luggage. This allows you to track the location of the luggage.
Before you travel, it helps to find a luggage cover or strap in a standout and unique colour or pattern that you can identify easily.
Make sure you take photos of your luggage prior to checking in. Doing so gives the airline company an easy visual reference, and you can also use these photos in case you have to file a damage claim.
Last but not least, make sure you know where to find affordable clothing. In the event that the airline is able to find your luggage, it may take hours before it reaches your hotel. You still need a set of clothes to change out of, which is why we recommend making note of nearby stores – such as H&M or Uniqlo – and drugstores where you can find affordable clothing or toiletries.
Cancelled flight connections are a pain to deal with, but inevitably, these situations do happen more often than you’d like.
When you get notice that your flight has been cancelled, it’s important to find out whether it’s a weather issue, or a fault from the airline. If it’s the former, then you’ll probably have nothing to do but wait it out. Should the delay be long enough, you might be able to check into a hotel for an overnight stay. You might be able to reason with the airline for cost remuneration, but it’s not guaranteed.
If the cancellation is due to a fault on the airline’s part, then you’ll usually be given meal and hotel vouchers to tide you over until they can reschedule everyone on outbound flights. It’s not compulsory, but it’s something many airlines do as a form of service recovery. Use this time to check through your holiday itinerary, in case you have to cancel or reschedule important reservations.
Again, travel insurances do cover cancelled flights, and you are recommended to do some homework on the airline’s check-in procedures to estimate how much time you should factor into your schedule. As a rule of thumb, try to arrive three hours prior to your flight time.
Maybe you got a bit too distracted in the airport lounge, or maybe you’ve gotten pickpocketed in the train station and you’ve lost your passport.
Obviously, the first step is to avoid this situation entirely by keeping your passport securely stored in your carry-on or on you. Before leaving anywhere – whether it’s an airplane seat, station cafe or counter – take five short seconds to scan the table and ensure you’ve taken everything.
If you’re transiting domestically – be it by plane, train or bus – it’s important to make a police report with local authorities, and keep a copy of the report with you.
On top of that, as an international traveller, your first step is to locate the nearest consulate or embassy.
For Singaporeans, contact the Singapore High Commission immediately after filing a police report. You can also email them at email@example.com. In getting a new passport, you will need to present embassy officials with the police report, and proof of your citizenship. You will also be asked to bring passport photos.
After officials have verified your identity, you will be given a Document of Identity that lets you travel back to Singapore. Upon arrival, you will be asked to surrender this document and apply for a replacement passport at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority. It’s quite a hassle, but at least it gets you home.
Carrie Bradshaw getting her Manolos stolen at knifepoint was funny, but it’s a lot less fun when you’re in an actual burglary situation.
When it comes to pickpockets, there are some ways to mitigate your losses in a situation like this. For starters, only take copies of important documents, like your passport or identity cards. Try to dress like the locals, and have your sling bag in front of you at all times.
Keep your essentials stored in different pockets and slots, as this reduces the chances of losing everything when you get pickpocketed. Lastly, avoid flashy jewellery or having too much cash on you.
After the crime is committed, look for the nearest police station or desk and file a report. In highly-populated areas like airports or train stations, surveillance would be heavy so local police authorities may be able to track the culprit before he disappears into the public.
Such was the case with this writer, who managed to get his wallet back from a pickpocket in a Paris train station, thanks to quick action from the policemen who were able to track the pickpocket as he headed out of the station.
This is very common predicament, as the enforcement of Covid management rules differ from country to country.
Assuming that you’ve tested positive for Covid in your hotel room, the first thing you should do is to find the nearest medical facility to get an official result that shows you’ve tested positive for Covid-19. You should be expecting to receive a certificate that states that you’ve tested positive, so make sure you check with the clinic for this document. This is also important when you need to make an insurance claim.
Next, your isolation begins. This means canceling all reservations or tours that you have for the next seven days. Self-isolation rules differ between countries, so do a quick check with local health authorities to learn what the most updated instructions are.
It’s important that you also inform your close contacts that you’ve tested positive, as it’s commonly accepted that a patient is most infectious 48 hours before symptoms begin to manifest.
You will also need to let the hotel management know that you need to extend your stay to accommodate your isolation period. Oh, and don’t forget to push your return flight a few days back until your isolation is complete.
Lastly, if you’ve bought travel insurance that covers Covid-19, it’s important to note that you can only make a claim if you’ve obtained a positive test result before flying back to Singapore. Once you’ve landed in Singapore to obtain your test results locally, you are no longer eligible for this coverage. Depending on your insurance coverage, you can file a claim for a daily allowance to help defray some of the costs of isolating in your hotel.
Just because your hotel room comes with a safe, doesn’t mean your belongings are 100% secure. Sure, it provides you with an added layer of protection, but determined criminals will find a way in.
When placing items into the safe, snap a pic of everything inside the safe with your phone, so you can account for what is placed inside. This will help when you have to make a report with local authorities, which should be done immediately.
The bad news is that hotels may not be required to offer any kind of financial reparation for lost items, so any assistance or recovery from the hotel will be based on their goodwill.
This emergency also demonstrates the importance of travel insurance, which is why we recommend finding one with adequate financial coverage in the case of loss or theft of your personal belongings.
We are lucky to not have to face many natural disasters here, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare accordingly. While different natural disasters require specific evacuation protocols, a few easy tips can be applied to almost all scenarios.
Firstly, do some homework and understand the kinds of disasters that commonly occur in the area you’re visiting. This will help you mentally prepare for the types of scenarios you may encounter.
When prepping for your trip, prepare an emergency kit that’s filled with important documents – like a list of emergency contacts, passports, and prescriptions – as well as essential first-aid supplies and medication. Having cash in your wallet is also helpful. When disaster strikes, you will have mere seconds to react so you want a kit that you can grab and go easily.
Prior to your trip, identify local news stations and media outlets because they are going to be key sources of information once a disaster happens.
Amidst the disaster situation, pay close attention to the advice of local authorities. Not every situation requires evacuation, so heed the advice of authorities. You should also start looking up local maps to find out where the nearest evacuation and medical points are.
Finally, know when it’s time to wrap up your trip prematurely. When in doubt, it’s best to see if there is a way of returning back to the safety of home in Singapore.