When we travel for business,  with colleagues or on our own, we plan and prep to make it go as smoothly as possible. But sometimes, no matter how hard we try, things don't go according to plan, regardless of the medium we use to travel. When things are thrown off, it sets off panic, anger, and frustration in many people. 

The good news is that these problems are avoidable at best and manageable at worst. As someone who travels for a living, I have seen and been part of many situations that were stressful, to say the least. Here's a list of common problems I've faced while  traveling for business and how I handle them.

1. Your flight is overbooked.

Although it doesn't seem fair, overbooking a flight is legal and fairly common among airlines. Airlines want to make sure that each of their flights is filled to maximum capacity. They calculate that a certain number of passengers won't show up and sell extra tickets to compensate for that.

The problem arises when everyone shows up and there aren't enough seats. The flight attendant will start asking people to voluntarily give up their seats in exchange for a travel voucher. If no one volunteers, then there's a possibility that you can be denied boarding.

Note that depending on the situation, airline, and country, you may be compensated for being bumped and delayed.

If you want to avoid getting bumped all together, check-in and arrive early at the gate, become a frequent flyer, and/or purchase an allocated seat instead of waiting to be assigned one at the gate. I've found that having an airline credit card and being part of their rewards program helps.  

2. Your flight is delayed.

Unlike with an overbooked flight, there's no compensation if your flight is delayed. While it's frustrating, being delayed because of weather or engine problems isn't something that can be helped.

I try to schedule my flights with a long layover so that if one of them is delayed, I won't struggle with getting back on track and reaching my destination. I take advantage of airport lounges to get some work done. I also prefer to purchase non-stop or early departure flights to give me options should something go awry.

3. You lose your passport.

Nothing is more stressful than losing your passport while traveling abroad. File a missing ID report with the police department. Then immediately contact the U.S. Embassy. To easily get in touch with a U.S. Embassy, sign up with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Another way to travel prepared is by having all your important documents digitally with you. I have copies of my most important documents, including credit card info and phone numbers, saved in my email. I also recommend traveling with a decoy wallet that has old cards in case of theft.

It's a lot easier to try and prove your identity when you have proof of who you are, even if it's not physical.

4. Your luggage is delayed or lost.

If your luggage is delayed, file a report with the airline immediately as it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to reach you. Other times, they might lose it completely. When an airline loses your bag, write a claim stating everything that was inside.

The maximum amount you'll receive for lost belongings is $3,500 per passenger on domestic flights. If they lose it on an international flight, compensation will vary.

To avoid your luggage getting delayed and/or lost, make sure to tag your bag with a copy of your itinerary and contact info so that the airline knows where to find you.  

5. Your hotel room is disappointing.

The place looked beautiful online, had decent reviews, and came with a good price. Then you arrive only to find it lacking. 

Report what is bothering you about the room to the manager. They'll either offer you a different room or an upgrade. I've found that approaching hotel staff in a calm and respectful manner will get you a lot further than coming from a place of frustration. 

6. You become ill.

To avoid illness, stay hydrated and try to keep a healthy diet and sleep schedule not only while traveling but also at least a week before your trip. Having travel insurance can also help you cover any medical expenses you incur while on the go.  

Although traveling presents unique situational challenges at times, as long as you always have a backup plan ready, you can manage it.

Published on: Aug 31, 2018