Have you ever planned your dream vacation, only to be grounded by a hurricane or snowstorm? What about stuck home with a work or family emergency? Or even arrived at your destination to find that 5-star resort is actually 1-star? Or maybe, despite careful planning, you just haven’t been able to swing that long-awaited holiday.
All of this and more can happen to ruin even the most carefully planned vacation. And, after months or years of careful planning, research, and budgeting, to lose the opportunity can feel like the universe is against you.
The first time I landed in India, my colleagues and I were booked at the Santosh Palace. “Palace!” I thought, “This will be amazing!” I could not have been more wrong. The one star hotel had several inches of dust over ever surface including the bed. It had boards for doors with no locks, and bed linens that looked like they hadn’t been washed in years. Also, there were almost no lights and the power went off about every 5 minutes.
Never fear, my friends, today we will become prepared for the worst. Read on for a mix of practical tips to manage the situations – and emotion tips to make the most of any situation.
How to Make the Most – And What To Do When Plans for Your Dream Vacation Are Spoiled
- 1 Practical Tips For When Your Plans Are Spoiled
- 2 When the Hotel is Not As Expected
- 3 How to Make the Most of Any Situation
- 4 Dream Vacation, Here We Come
Practical Tips For When Your Plans Are Spoiled
Know your rights
Did you know, that if your flight is delayed more than 3 hours in the EU, the airline is required to compensate you 250 Euro? If it is delayed overnight, they will put you up in a 3-4 star hotel and cover your meals. In the Middle East they will also provide hotel and food for all travelers. While the US has the least regulation about airline service, and it is rare to find an airline willing to put you up in a hotel, there are things you can do.
Join the Frequent Flyer Program
First, join the frequent flyer program of the airline you are traveling. Even at the lowest level, this will help you get premium service in case of emergency. In fact, you should be on the frequent flyer program anyway to collect those miles!
Call the Airline in a Different Country for Faster Service
Second, use get a human to find the best number to call the airline service center. If there is a weather situation causing delays where you are – try a number in a different country and you may get through a lot faster. You can use Skype to call many other countries inexpensively.
Be Picky with Re-Routing Options
Third, if the flight is delayed, request a flight that gets you there as fast as comfortable – but don’t compromise on routes or timing. Maybe the 3 am flight sounds ok now, but wouldn’t you feel better with a full night’s sleep and the 7 am flight? Yeah, I thought so.
Make Friends with the Agent
Likewise, if the airline tries to put you on the flight from New York to Cancun via Portland, Phoenix, AND Miami, politely ask for the next more direct route. Airline agents often have a certain amount of discretion – and a bit better searching from their side can get you in a much better flight position
When the Hotel is Not As Expected
If the hotel is not as expected, like my Santosh Palace experience, my best advice is to find a new hotel as soon as possible. This is where having some free hotel nights or points in your back pocket comes in handy. Book yourself for one night while you figure out plan B.
Of course, in this case demand a full refund, explaining politely that expectations were not met; there was false advertising, etc. If you booked through a booking service like hotels.com, Expedia or Airbnb, report the hotel to the service and be sure to leave a review of your experience.
How to Make the Most of Any Situation
Now assuming that your travel and hotel plans are on point, there are still any number of reasons your dream vacation could go wrong. Or maybe you weren’t able to swing that dream vacation at all.
Whether it’s a hurricane while you’re in the Virgin Islands, a snowstorm in the Himalayas, or that you’re stuck at home on a Saturday, these tips are for you.
Research Great Local Indoor Activities
If you are stuck inside because of weather, or stuck at home, research new and interested activities. Explore a museum, walk through a mall, and check out the indoor portion of a botanical garden or zoo. You can also go see a movie in a new theater and make it a date day – with yourself, your kids, or your colleagues!
Embrace the Adventure
Start writing the amazing story you are having, it is amazing how much that can turn the situation around. Your favorite movie or book is probably full of setbacks and disappointments. It is what the character do then that makes it a good story.
So put on your spirit of adventure and consider yourselves explorers. Make friends with others in a similar situation. Or find a cute local bookstore and curl up with a good book. Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes.
If the weather is good, search out a local hike and bring a picnic or find a new route to ride bikes or scooters. If the weather keeps you inside, try an ice skating rink, a roller rink, go-carts, a bookstore, or even hear a local speaker. There are so many opportunities nearly everywhere you go!
Ask the Locals
Sometimes the most fun is to join in the local culture. This can be at a restaurant, gathering spot or on the beach. Join in the fun and get the real flavor of the destination, even if that destination is just a stopover on the way to your dream vacation.
You may find that in addition to having a memorable day and a great story to tell, you come away with lifelong friends.
Attitude of Gratitude
One of my aunts, in almost any situation, will reply, “We are so lucky!” I think there is something to this attitude of gratitude. Consider the situation. Whether you are on your dream vacation, or still dreaming of it, you are lucky to dream and plan.
Take joy in the little things on the journey and see how much more fun it becomes. This can be as simple as getting to try a new flavor of ice cream, or reaching it to the top of your favorite hike. Take each day as an opportunity to remind yourself of how deserving you are; how much you have already accomplished; and how much potential you still have. And then enjoy it!
Dream Vacation, Here We Come
You see, with these tips any vacation can become a dream vacation because you can make the most of any situation. I’ve rhymed a lot in this post! But it is true, the spirit of adventure and attitude of gratitude can go a long way to making a memorable day, every day.
I’d like to know: do you want to hear more about making the best of every day? What are your best tops of what to do when everything goes wrong?
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