Travelling is exciting, but can also be a little scary!
There’s bound to be a few bumps along the road, especially if you’re heading off the beaten track or planning a longer or a more adventurous backpacking trip.
But learning to cope with stressful or unexpected situations is one of the greatest lessons travel can teach you.
And hey, if nothing else, it sure makes for a great story!
To prove that even the experts occasionally run into trouble overseas (and that it's not the end of the world!), we asked some of the biggest bloggers and writers in the travel industry to share their mishaps and misadventures.
Between hectic airport dashes, sinking boats, natural disasters and an impressive list of injuries and illnesses, they’ve tackled some of the scariest situations a traveller can face – and lived to tell the tale!
They’ve also chipped in with some practical advice to help you avoid or at least cope if you ever do find yourself in a similar situation.
“We were living in the USA on a J1 visa and had applied for an extension so we could travel for a little longer before coming home. We received the extension approval less than a week before it was due to expire, but our passports were not returned to us.
Nobody knew where they were. Nor did the immigration officials understand what the problem was. We had our visa extension, why were we so worried? Umm, because you can't leave the country without a passport!!! And if we didn't leave the country by the due date we were going to be considered illegal which would really affect our future travel.
After a couple of stressful days trying to fix it, we ended up going to the Australian Embassy in LA who cancelled our passports as lost and issued us emergency passports valid for six months.
Our advice is never send your passport in for visa renewals or immigration issues. I am not sure why we did, but it was the wrong decision and wasn't necessary. Also, always turn to your embassy for help. We were so grateful to the embassy and the quick way they handled it and made us feel at ease.”
Caz and Craig from Y Travel Blog
“Even if you’re well prepared and are always careful, you really can’t avoid getting sick at some point if you do a lot of travel.
My worst experience was in Myanmar when some dodgy street food made me really sick for more than a week. I couldn’t keep any food or drink down for the whole time and lost a lot of weight (a nice side effect) and was quite weak by the end (an unfortunate side effect).
I made the mistake of thinking that my body would fix itself within a couple of days, which is normally what happens if some food doesn’t agree with me. In hindsight, I should have gone to the pharmacy much sooner and get something to help. As soon as I did do that, I recovered quite quickly.
Even in developing countries like Myanmar, pharmacists are well trained and know exactly what to give you in these kinds of situations.
I am a big advocate of street food and I think it’s one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture. The meals are really tasty, quite cheap and definitely authentic, but to minimise your chance of getting sick, try to go to street food stalls where lots of people are eating (that means the locals know it’s good), avoid anything that is not cooked in front of you (my mistake in Myanmar was that I had a salad that had probably been sitting around all day), and carry some sanitiser to clean your hands before you eat.”
Michael from Time Travel Turtle
Our Boat Sank!
“I've had many travel disasters over the years but probably the funniest (looking back) was when our dhow sank in Kenya.
A dhow is a wooden sail boat and we were just on a short trip off the Swahili island of Lamu from Lamu Town to Shella Beach. Our crew were very young and obviously inexperienced. When we arrived at the beach, they tacked sharply and the boat keeled over. It all happened so fast. Suddenly we were up to our necks in water, then the boat disappeared.
We all grabbed for our bags but of course our cameras were ruined along with our holiday snaps. Then we had to swim to shore! Luckily, we weren't miles out at sea.
We reported the incident to the local police who came to our hotel later to check us out more. It was quite intimidating but we needed a police report for our travel insurance claim.
I am a great one for travel insurance. Not just in case of lost, stolen or submerged (!) belongings but more importantly in case you have a serious accident or illness and need to be repatriated.”
Annabel from Get In The Hot Spot
Theft in Thailand
“I had my passport stolen in Bangkok. I got lazy and put my passport in a loose bottom pocket of my cargo pants (it was the 2000’s!).
I was at Chatuchak market, which is apparently the biggest market in the world. I was in a crowded aisle and kids were blocking the way, which is how they distracted me.
At the time, I thought it was the worst thing in the world. Once I realised my passport was missing I went to the police box at the market and reported it to them. They then said to report to the nearest police station near where I was staying. From there I then had to go to the tourist police office and fill out a declaration. This was all on a weekend so I couldn’t go to the Australian embassy yet. On the Monday, I went to the embassy and filed a stolen passport claim, and they ordered a temporary passport which I could pick up in three days.
I’m always vigilant about where my wallet, phone, and passport is on my body, so never get complacent and put your belongings in a vulnerable place like loose pockets or an open handbag.
I was lucky in that at least I was in a city which had an embassy, and I wasn’t flying anywhere immediately. I only lost a few days in my itinerary and my pride was dented for having been pickpocketed.
In the end, it just cost me time and money. I wore the cost of a new passport, but if I had of missed a flight and then lost hotel bookings I would have been out-of-pocket without travel insurance.”
James from Nomadic Notes
“We've been lucky that we haven't had any serious situations happen to us over the last 10 years travelling the world, but we have definitely had our fair share of illnesses. We've had broken bones, serious infections, numerous hospital visits and more.
Whenever anything bad like that happened we would usually try to self-diagnose if possible, but in the serious cases we would seek medical advice and go to a hospital if need be.
Our biggest piece of advice is to always look after your health on the road and have travel insurance in case of emergencies. Medical bills can add up quickly in foreign countries, and being covered gives you peace of mind.”
Jarryd & Alesha from Nomadasaurus
“Indeed, I’ve landed myself in a few situations over the years - I actually managed to literally break my face in a surfing accident! Broken nose and cheekbone plus a heap of stitches!
After ending up in hospital I got all fixed up. It took six weeks to stop looking like a walking zombie with my bloodshot eyes, but I bounced back!
My advice to any traveller is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst! No matter how familiar the situation, accidents happen so have a Plan B, a safety net and a positive outlook. Everything will be ok!”
Chris from Backpacker Banter
Stranded & Sick
“I have been very fortunate over the past decade to encounter only one serious issue.
While traveling in Laos, I contracted a diarrheal illness during a trek to a remote part of the country. After several days, I realised that it was serious and I needed medical attention.
It took an entire day and a half to get to a place with access to medical care. Although I had hoped to contact my insurance for a medical evacuation, cellular facilities were not yet developed in that area and I had to travel out of the mountains and into neighbouring Thailand before I could find help.
My advice is to pack oral rehydration salts. These should be in every single traveller’s medical kit. Hopefully, you will never need them, but in my situation, these bought me enough time to find medical facilities and contact my travel insurance company for help.”
Shannon from A Little Adrift
“We’ve had our fair share of bumps along the way over the last five years exploring over 65 countries. For example, when my son fell off a bunk bed in Israel when he was three years old and broke his arm.
I found out from the hotel’s front desk where the nearest hospital was and took him there. The admin staff didn’t speak a word of English (and my Hebrew is very, very limited) which added to the communication frustration. They effectively said they wouldn’t look at him until I had paid almost AU$1,000 upfront.
Fortunately, after four hours we had a cast on his arm, and even more fortunate was the fact that this was covered by travel insurance so we weren’t out-of-pocket for the medical expenses.
It helps to know the location of a few important medical facilities BEFORE the emergency happens. If you use an iPhone or Android phone, 'star' the hospital on your phone’s Google Maps app.
Also having a note of a few basic phrases in the local language can help. Nowadays Google Translate goes a long way. And of course, don’t leave home without travel insurance!”
Josh from Travel With Bender
Right Time, Wrong Airport
“In 2009, I travelled to Europe with my mother. Part of our trip saw us fly from London to Rome. We left ourselves plenty of time to catch the train to Heathrow Airport, and arrived a good two hours before our departure. Though, for some reason, our flight was not listed on the departures board.
As it turns out, the flight wasn’t listed because it wasn’t leaving from Heathrow! We were meant to be at Gatwick, and there was no way we were going to get there in time to catch our flight!! Which meant we likely weren't going to get to Rome that night.
We headed straight for the British Airways information desk to explain the situation, and were fortunate enough to transfer our flight without incurring extra fees. We requested to be put on the standby list for the next flight to Rome leaving Heathrow and, by some miracle, two people cancelled, freeing up a couple of seats.
My advice: First of all, many cities in the world have multiple airports, so make sure you've travelled to the right one!
Secondly, if you find yourself in a situation like this, find a representative from your airline and see what your options are. It's always incredibly helpful if you keep your cool and are polite to the ground staff. If you're hysterical it's very difficult to work through the issue and they're likely not going to want to help you.”
Megan from Mapping Megan
“Earlier this year I was scuba diving on Pulau Weh in Sumatra when a wave tipped our boat and I fell from the roof.
I struck the deck on my way down, breaking my ulna before falling into the drink. I'd foolishly forgotten to buy travel insurance, so I had a nervous and painful two-week wait before I could afford to fly back to Australia for surgery.
In that two weeks, I bounced between Indonesia and China, took four or five flights, and generally struggled with the pain on a daily basis. I'm never travelling without insurance again!
There weren't any hospitals on Pulau Weh I could visit and I was due to fly back to Beijing the following day, so I had to suck it up and wait until I got to China.
We immediately visited a hospital there, and that's when I found out I'd been travelling with a broken arm for two days.
They quoted 30,000RMB (around $4,400 USD) for the surgery, but I spoke with my family and they informed me I could have the surgery done for free back in Australia. I made do with a makeshift sarong sling for two weeks until I could get home.
My advice? Buy travel insurance! Seriously, it's a pain in the butt and a needless expense 99% of the time, but it would have saved me a lot of pain if I could have just had the surgery done in Banda Aceh or Beijing rather than flying all the way back to Australia for it.”
Chris from Aussie On The Road
“We have had several injuries, illness and accidents on our travels.
I ended up in hospital for a week in Thailand with bronchitis. My daughter knocked two teeth out in Canada after a bad fall. We crashed our campervan into a balcony in New Zealand. The list goes on!
In every instance we've had, we know we have a good travel insurance policy to back us up on our travels. I keep our travel insurance policy details to hand in an easy to find place so we can call quick and make sure we're covered for any accidents.
My advice: You get sick or hurt at home so don't let the fear of it happening on the road put you off travel. Accidents and illness can happen anywhere so you just have to be prepared and always have travel insurance.”
Bethaney from Flashpacker Family
“The biggest problem I have experienced was when my travel companion had a seizure out of nowhere when we were travelling in the US. He had never had one before and we were sitting in a bus when it happened.
The bus driver thankfully took charge and rung an ambulance. My companion (along with me in the front seat) was driven to hospital where he had tests. He turned out to be fine but it did mean we missed our onwards flight to Asia and it was also very stressful.
The US hospital also demanded to see our insurance as soon as we got there, just like you hear about on TV!
My advice is to make sure you have travel insurance and keep the details on you. This was before smart phones and we had just been on a day trip and it hadn't even occurred to me to take travel insurance details with me. I was lucky in that the doctor let me use his computer so I could find the travel insurance details in my email.”
Sharon from Where's Sharon?
“I'm touching wood as I type this but so far I've been very lucky on my travels and haven't had any horrible problems along the way (touches wood again and does a strange superstitious dance). But that said there was that day in Los Angeles when I couldn't believe I'd dropped a travel ball.
As someone who prides themselves on their punctuality and always buffers in plenty of time for possible traffic problems when she goes to an airport I had never missed a flight before and started to think I never would. Then it happened.
Perhaps it was post-Coachella fuzzy brain after too much fun in the sun. Perhaps it was the travel gods having a little laugh because I dared to think I might have a perfect 'Never Missed a Flight' record. But when my friend asked what time I had to leave to head to the airport I told him 1.30pm and so we had a long lazy brunch and chilled out.
Then when I was doing a final pack of my bag I glanced at my ticket and saw the 1.30pm time was indeed there, but that was when I was supposed to be landing in Seattle, not leaving Los Angeles.
My flight was leaving in an hour and, considering my friend was in the shower and we were Downtown LA, I knew my goose was cooked, but we still attempted a mad dash to the airport. Not surprisingly, we missed my flight.
On the upside my flight was only LAX to Seattle and so I soon had a spot on a flight a couple of hours later. I can't imagine if I'd made the same mistake on an international flight and could be waiting a day or more to play catch up.
These days I have the TripCase app which sends me reminders to let me know it's time to get ready for my flight. Of course having already checked the date, time and terminal I'm flying from three times in the lead up to it I just nod to the app and say thanks, I'm all over it. And don't worry, I'll be getting to the airport early!”
Amanda from Adventures All Around
“While I was in East Timor, one of my mosquito bites got extremely infected, causing my ankle to swell so much that my foot barely fit into my shoe.
The infection was resistant to the antibiotics I was already taking for malaria, and I was a three-hour motorbike away from any doctor. East Timor unfortunately does not have advanced medical care in most places, so I had to send pictures of my infection to the doctor at my travel insurance company and my doctor back home. Both doctors told me that I needed a specific antibiotic immediately, or else I risked getting sepsis (an infection in the blood).
My insurance company told me to prepare to fly back to Australia for proper treatment. I was terrified.
After going to a handful of East Timorese pharmacies, I still couldn't find the medication my doctor at home suggested. At this point, I was panicking and on the phone with my home doctor and insurance company every few hours.
Eventually, my travel group and I found a run-down public hospital that had the specific antibiotic I needed. The doctor tried to cut into my leg with a scalpel without cleaning my very dirty wound site! I refused to let the doctor slice me and retracted my leg. I left the hospital only with antibiotics and no physical treatment.
Thankfully within a few days of taking the antibiotics, my ankle healed and I was back to travelling as usual.
What was really interesting is that the first travel insurance policy I bought said that my policy covered all of Southeast Asia. But after reading the fine print, the policy actually did not cover East Timor. The day before my trip, I changed to a different insurance provider so that I could be covered my entire trip to East Timor.
New travellers should always double check exactly what area, sports, and activities their policy covers. It's also smart to buy a local SIM card to make emergency calls or seek advice, especially in remote areas. If you run into a crisis situation, it helps to call your insurance company and see what the next steps should be.”
Chantae from Chantae Was Here
Unrest in Ukraine
“As a frequent traveller, there have been a few times when I've run into trouble overseas.
One time was when my husband and I showed up in Ukraine during the political unrest in late 2013. We had no idea whether it was safe for us to stay in Kiev or whether we should change our travel plans. We ended up going anyway. Kiev was wonderful and we both loved our stay in Ukraine, but the political unrest was intense and it definitely had us both on edge during our stay!
We did some internet research to gauge the situation a few days before we arrived. At the time, it was a peaceful protest, but we kept our eye on the news and were ready to leave if anything turned violent. We had travel insurance and we were prepared to use it to make a quick getaway if the need arose.
Luckily, we left the country before anything nasty happened, but it definitely could have turned out differently.
Travel is generally a safe activity, but sometimes unpredictable things can happen. Make sure that you're prepared in every way possible, and that you have backup funds to get yourself somewhere safe at short notice.
If you find yourself in a place where you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, don't be afraid to change your plans!”
Ashlea from A Globe Well Travelled
“I don't know if you remember the crazy ash cloud that formed from an Icelandic volcano a few years ago?
Well I was due to end my travels in Guatemala and return to work in London the day after it formed. So yes, all flights across the Atlantic were pretty much cancelled for the foreseen future... including mine! I felt so bad as my boss had given me extra unpaid time off to take my holiday and here I was stranded thousands of miles away on a different continent with no idea when I'd be able to get back!
The first thing I did was call my airline to find out the latest information and try to rearrange my flight. They said, because of the backlog it could be another three weeks until I could fly! So, I booked on the first flight that I could, manned up, and told my boss I wouldn't be back for a while!
She wasn't too happy, but when an ash cloud strikes, there's not much you can do about it!
I then called my travel insurance company to find out if I was entitled to any cover that might help with the costs of my extended trip and thankfully they said yes!
My advice is to first of all, stay calm. It's easy to panic when things don't go according to plan, but it's good to remember this is one of the best lessons travel can teach you: to deal with the unexpected!
Secondly, make sure you take copies of all your important documents such as flight tickets and insurance policies, as well as the numbers you'll need to call these companies from overseas in an emergency. Having all this information at your fingertips will make sorting things out a heck of a lot easier!”
Steph from Big World Small Pockets
“I was in Nepal hiking to Everest Base Camp, just myself, my guide and a porter. I was running marathons pre-hike so I’m pretty fit, but the altitude really knocked me around.
The night before our final hike to reach Base Camp was so bitterly cold the water bucket beside the toilet had frozen over. I succumbed to a cold (still unaware I had altitude sickness too) and went to bed with every single piece of clothing I could pull on. Even with four pairs of socks I was still cold.
The next day I dragged my sorry butt up the remainder of the mountain where we celebrated with obligatory photos of Base Camp. All I wanted to do was crawl into a warm bed but I managed to hike back to the lodge and await the medivac helicopter which my guide had organised through my travel insurer.
I spent two days in a hospital in Kathmandu, warmed up, recovered from altitude sickness and was able to continue my travels. The whole situation was covered by travel insurance and I was only out of pocket $100 which was the excess on claims.
Had I not had travel insurance I would have had no choice but to hike back down the mountain, which could have been catastrophic. I didn’t feel so ill that it seemed an impossible task, but I appreciate that people die from altitude sickness and the action my guide took was the best option.
My tip is to always have reliable, reputable travel insurance! And carry lots of tissue packs and baby wipes which substitute for showers and toilet paper in undeveloped countries.”
Fiona from Travel Boating Lifestyle
“During my years of travel, I have encountered a few mishaps along the way including having travel plans diverted due to hurricanes, not being able to leave for a holiday due to illness, and a few injuries sustained whilst travelling.
One such incident was when I was backpacking for three months around Europe. About halfway into our trip I slipped down one step and strained my ankle. The pain was excruciating. Having been trained in first aid I knew to ice and elevate my ankle immediately.
The next day my travel companion visited a pharmacy to purchase bandages and crutches. For the next few weeks, my travel companion had to carry my luggage as I hobbled behind. Without my travel companion, I no doubt would have been calling my travel insurance company to be on the next plane home.
Fortunately, I completed the trip and saw everything we had planned on our itinerary. I just had to travel at a slower pace.
This wasn't the first adversity experienced on my travels and it hasn't been my last. But with each issue, it is just a matter of being prepared, asking for help and remaining flexible. Even with the misadventures I have experienced on my travels, the memories I have come home with are priceless, last a lifetime and offer some great tales to retell.”
Sally-Ann from Toddlers On Tour
“I thought we knew all about keeping our things safe and that we would never run into any trouble until we had a bag stolen on a train in Naples.
To be honest we still have no idea how the person got the bag that was on a high-backed chair right in front of Mark with me next to him and the girls sitting in the seats right across from him. It was no more than 20cm from his body, it wasn't small, and none of us where more than a meter from it. What also amazed us is that no one else even saw someone go past us... that is how good they can be!
Right after it happened we thought we might have left it at a cafe so Mark ran back to check, but it was not there either.
I found the conductor on the platform and told him that I thought our bag had been stolen. He got on the train with us as it was nearly ready to leave the station. He told us to give him our details and we gave him ours. He reported it to the police in Naples but they told us to go straight to the Police Station in Rome the next day to report it stolen. The conductor was so good to us, and as I said he gave us his details so if there were problems at the Police Station so he could verify our story.
Due to the time difference, we were able to call our insurance people in Australia and confirm what we needed from them which was a Police Statement and a list of what was in the bag, but it would need to be lodged when we returned home.
For me this was heart-breaking and I had so many emotions about it that I was not expecting. I felt like I had been a target and that everyone was out to get me. I suddenly wanted to go home immediately and found it hard to get out the next day. It took a good talking to from Mark that we would be alright and that we were all fine... no one was hurt, we were only missing photos.
I honestly think because we thought it would not happen to us we let out guard down a little bit and thought we would be ok on the train.
I am very cautious with our things now to a point where I really get stuck into Mark about where things are.
My BIGGEST piece of advice is that if you truly believe that there is no way you could have protected your belongings any better than you did and your insurance company denies your claim, FIGHT IT. It took us four months to get anywhere with our insurance company with mistake after mistake and constant reviews. I honestly think they just want you to go away and are not ready for you to argue with their decisions or chase them up when they are not upholding their end of the deal.”
Bec from Wyld Family Travel
Earthquake in Chile
“We’ve been in a few tricky situations, including being caught in a scam, a couple of pickpocketing incidents, and a missed flight. The most memorable though, was being in Chile for the enormous earthquake in 2010.
We were in Puerto Varas, about 500km from the epicentre, and were woken in the middle of the night by strong shaking that lasted about 90 seconds. When the shaking stopped, we checked in on our travelling companions, and then went back to sleep.
We’d planned to catch an overnight bus back to Santiago the next day, but road closures and transport delays made that impossible. We ended up staying in Puerto Varas for a couple of days, then made our way to Temuco to stay with a friend’s aunt.
The ATMs weren’t working and our group was near the end of our cash reserves, but we managed to get by through pooling our resources and cashing in our emergency stash of US dollars. Our travel plans were pushed back by a week, but luckily, we hadn’t made many transport or accommodation bookings.
For other people who find themselves in a similar situation, staying calm is the most important thing. Talk to your travelling companions to make sure you’re on the same page, and find a way to continue your trip.
And call your family as soon as you can to let them know you’re okay!”
Linda from Indie Travel Podcast
Insurance Pays Off
“I've been sick and injured many times overseas. The interesting thing is we often think that medical help overseas is going to be sub-par, but I've been in clinics and hospitals from Philippines to China to Thailand to Ecuador and it's always been pretty excellent. Thai hospitals look like space stations, seriously!
It's always just been a minor inconvenience and hasn't interrupted my travels for more than a few days.
Of course, it helps to have travel insurance and knowing you can get assistance no matter what the cost. Seeing a specialist in China cost around $700, but insurance gladly picked that up. However, many times things only cost me around $50-$100 so I didn't even bother lodging a claim.
One time when I did need insurance was when my grandmother unexpectedly passed, and my insurance agreed to fly me home for the funeral. That was really appreciated.”
Bren from Bren On The Road
Big City Strife
“When I travelled to the United States a few years ago, I had two events that could have completely spoilt my holiday. The first was coming down with a terrible case of Flu in New York where I was bedridden for days and completely missed out on seeing the fabulous sights in this exciting city.
My husband located a doctor in the very upmarket Fifth Avenue and took me there for some much needed medical assistance. Several hundreds of dollars later, with the help of medication and after a few days more rest, I started to feel better and was able to enjoy the holiday once more. The good thing was that I was able to claim these medical expenses under our travel insurance so I wasn’t left out of pocket.
The second incident was the loss of the diamond out of my ring that my husband had given me for our 25th Wedding Anniversary. You can imagine how devastated I was to discover the diamond had fallen out of the prong setting on the ring? I was completely unaware that this had happened somewhere between Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Fortunately, I was also able to claim the lost diamond under our travel insurance policy as well. When I returned home I had the diamond replaced and only had to pay the small excess amount on the insurance policy. I felt extremely relieved and grateful that we had that travel insurance policy.
My advice is to always take out travel insurance, because you never know what can happen when you’re travelling.
Although my two incidents were relatively minor, can you imagine if you lost your entire luggage or came down with a serious illness? It would cost you an absolute fortune to replace all the things in your suitcase and to pay for medical costs in an overseas hospital.
If something does happen to you remember that the staff at hotels are always extremely helpful and will normally arrange assistance for you. Also, you can contact the Embassy of your country of residence for advice.”
Kathy from 50 Shades of Age
Injury in Italy
“We have had trouble in our travels a few times: injuries, illness, family emergencies back home. If you travel enough these things happen eventually.
One of our more serious incidents was in Italy where I severely injured my knee. I wasn't doing anything exciting, just climbing onto the train with a suitcase! So there is no great adventure story to tell. However, I was injured to the point I could not walk, I could not bear weight on my knee.
I finished the train ride, but when I got off two hours later in Bologna I needed medical assistance. Our hotel was most helpful and sent us off to the local Orthopaedic Hospital which had an emergency room. I saw an orthopaedic doctor who could properly evaluate the injury.
The next three weeks traveling around Europe and the UK I was on crutches and in a leg brace. When I got back home to Australia I had to attend physical therapy for another six to eight weeks. Luckily it did not require surgery and my knee has fully recovered today.
Your hotel can be very helpful in the case of an accident or illness. They often have doctors on call who speak English and will come to the hotel (unfortunately this was too serious for that solution) and they know the local area and can assist.
Our hotel made several phone calls before they sent us to the hospital to make sure I would be looked after properly. They also assisted us to find crutches and the knee brace (these were not supplied at the hospital in Italy). The hotel even had a wheelchair I could use to get around for the first few days when my knee was too sore for crutches.
If you are not staying in a hotel, a large hotel can still assist you and most are happy to help in an emergency, just ask.
There were no charges for the medical care at the hospital, but we did have to change our travel plans as some of our accommodation did not have elevators and I could no longer climb the stairs. The airlines were great, you just need to let them know (usually online) ahead of time you will require assistance at the airport.”
Elizabeth from Compass and Fork
“We were in Quito, Ecuador on a busy Saturday morning heading for the famous Otavalo Markets when we had our passports and credit cards stolen.
It could have happened a few ways we are still not sure. We do not normally have them in our day packs this is #101 travel and not what to do, but this instance because it was only a short trip we kept them in the day pack.
There was a long queue to buy the tickets, then suddenly the couple behind us left the queue - it was odd! Were we pickpocketed there in the queue? On checking in at our accommodation we found them missing.
We cancelled the credit cards straight away and called the consulates, Australian and British, then headed to local Police Station to file a report. We also called our insurance company to let them know what had happened and find out what they wanted us to do.
Our tips are to always, always, always take our travel insurance. We say if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel.
Be alert everywhere you go especially in bus stations, train stations and markets. We carry our passports on us at all times when travelling as well as our credit cards.
To replace our Australian Passports, the Australian Government wanted original documents to accompany the forms. Lucky we had friends back in Australia who were holding these for us and, with their assistance, we managed to get the passports back in three months just prior to our visas running out. Some of our credit cards were couriered to us.
Have copies of all receipts for goods (i.e electronics, etc) and make sure you have a copy of passports in a email address storage location should you require to show it for ID at any time. We had copies made and we plastic covered them and carried with us to show ID when requested.
If travelling long-term, make sure you have access to original documentation (i.e Birth Certificates, etc) as we required these to replace our Australian Passports.”
Jane and Duncan from To Travel Too
When Air Cons Attack!
“I am queen of the mishaps and misadventures. I got stitches in Vietnam in by no means an exciting story. In fact, it’s almost the most boring thing that could have happened. Or maybe lame is the term? All I know is that it sucked.
Jack and I went for a night out in Hoi An, Vietnam, and when we came back to our room at 2am we realised it was HOT. Like 115F degrees hot. So, like the needy princess that I am, I lay in bed fanning myself and I asked Jack to turn on the air conditioning.
When Jack turned the AC on, the air coming out was so powerful it blew the AC plastic cover out onto my face, right in between the eyes.
So, there I was, bleeding everywhere in a hotel bed. We got some band-aids and some alcohol wipes to stop the bleeding and just dealt with it the next morning.
After telling the concierge lady what had happened she took me to the nearest hospital, and by hospital, I mean she brought me to a woman’s house who happened to have stitching equipment.
I got stitched and bandaged up and sent home. I had to buy scarring ointments, alcohol wipes, disinfectants, band-aids and all that fun stuff. I went to a few hospitals in Da Lat later on to get the stitching out.
I had bought travel insurance, so after our backpacking trip I saved all receipts for any medications and ointments and sent them all back. Even though stitches in Vietnam only cost $10, travel insurance ensured I got all my money back (and then some) from this ordeal.
Our advice? First off, try not to sleep in a bed directly under an AC unit. Second of all, if you are in a small town, go to the nearest international hospital that has proper equipment to help you with any wounds. Although we didn’t at the time, it would have been way safer to go to a legitimate hospital with proper needles and stitching equipment. For all I know, the lady (who yes, did do a great job) could have used unsterilised needles and could have given me an infection, or worse!
Third, get travel insurance. I am so thankful I got it because not only did this happen, but I got food poisoning, had my phone stolen, attacked by sand flies… you get the point. But because I got travel insurance, I was reimbursed for all of this.”
Jenn and Jack from Who Needs Maps?
As many of the above bloggers attest, travel insurance is an essential accessory for travellers of all levels of experience, budgets and travel styles.
Not only does travel insurance help to cover unexpected financial losses such as stolen passports, emergency medical and hospital expenses, cancellations and travel delays, but it connects you with a 24 hour worldwide emergency assistance team.
Many of the travel bloggers who contributed to this article found their insurer's assistance helpline extremely valuable when faced with a stressful or emergency situation in a foreign country.
Thankyou again to everyone who contributed their experiences and advice!
If you have a great travel story or experience you'd like to share for our next travel blogger roundup or would like to collaborate on another project, please get in touch via our Media Centre page.
For handy tips to help protect your passport while travelling overseas, check out our guide '8 Ways To Keep Your Passport Safe While Travelling'.