Halloween is over. No more ghost stories, costume parties or horror movies. However, the nightmare doesn’t end on the 31st – it’s only just beginning.
November is flight-booking season – you’ve got your Christmas holiday plans sorted and you’re eagerly counting down the days, but then something goes horribly wrong! Perhaps you lose your passport a few days before you’re due to fly. Or you forget to get vaccinated at least six weeks in advance of your travel date and now you’re missing the chance to get some winter sun. Or you were mugged while enjoying a holiday in Paris?
Holiday nightmare mistakes can happen to anyone. A simple blunder can ruin your entire break! While sometimes things go wrong and it’s completely out of your control, most of the time you can make sure you have a nightmare-free holiday with some simple planning and preparation.
To avoid a fright this holiday season, have a read through these holiday nightmare mistakes you definitely need to avoid!
A hotel from hell!
Sometimes hotel bookings do not go according to plan, as Joanna Coates, a student at Newcastle University, found out when travelling to Gran Canaria with her family.
She said: “[We] got to the airport and got told our hotel was overbooked and that they’d have to move us into an ‘adults only hotel’ despite my sister only being 15 at the time.”
Unfortunately, hotel overbookings are a common holiday nightmare mistake, especially when you book a package holiday deal. Rachel Ellen, a student at the University of Glasgow, experienced similar issues in Magaluf when an overbooked hotel meant she had to stay in the hotel from Magaluf Weekender for one night.
She said: “When we went into our rooms, they were nothing like you see on TV […] Our room had a 30cm gap under the foot door, smelled terrible and we [saw] a cockroach in the bathroom.
We wish we had checked to see if anyone else had that issue with the hotel before we booked it.”
To avoid an overbooked hotel, it is ideal to have your accommodation booked months in advance, around the same time you book your flights, and do your research to make sure that overbooking isn’t a common practice in the hotel you are planning to stay in. Also, it is helpful to call the hotel a few days before your flight to confirm your booking and ensure you will have a place to sleep on arrival.
However, sometimes there is nothing you can do as the situation may be out of your control, so it is just as important to make sure that you have a plan B for alternative accommodation if necessary, and make sure that you have appropriate travel insurance to protect yourself against any unforeseen circumstances.
Eve Willis, a student at the University of Surrey, found herself in an unfortunate taxi scam when backpacking around Argentina with friends.
Arriving in Buenos Aires, Eve had not arranged transportation from the airport to her hostel and decided to queue at the taxi rank in the airport. However, taxi drivers in Argentina are known to regularly overcharge passengers, using a clicker to jump the meter.
Eve said: “We got in a taxi after a wait, I asked in Spanish how much it would be. He said he didn’t know, but our bags had been put in the back and there was a huge queue.
…We drove a journey that should have cost no more than 10 pounds […] but the price was four times that in Argentinian pesos.”
Eve’s advice: “Always arrange with a hostel if you can as [it] is cheap and safe.”
While taxi ranks in airports may look professional, it is better to research beforehand to find the most effective mode of transportation to and from the airport and book in advance using a trusted online service if a taxi is the only option.
If you know that you are prone to travel sickness, always ensure that you have the correct medication prepared and packed well before you’re due to travel.
However, if you normally do not experience travel sickness, but find yourself adventure travelling, you might experience some unanticipated travel sickness as Leena Anis, a student at the University of York, did while volunteering in India for the summer.
Leena said: “The dangerous driving when we travelled long hours to get to Bir, a place that was high up in the mountains, did make us feel really nauseous and anxious on the ride up.”
“We were going to take a flight back, but they said not to bother because it was monsoon season and the visibility was very bad.”
You never know what to expect when travelling in unfamiliar territory so if you want to avoid a holiday nightmare, bring a first aid kit with you that includes all the essentials, but also any additional medication that you might need, such as travel sickness medication to prepare for travel in high altitudes. Before you travel, it is important to check medical regulations in the country that you are travelling to as rules differ from country to country.