The What Ifs of Travel


Travel anxiety is bound to happen. Your room is dark, you’ve climbed into bed ready to fall asleep. Then, you lay there. Suddenly your mind starts to replay every anxious thought that’s been buried deep under the priorities that took over your day. We’ve all been there.

Throughout 40 years of travel experience, we know embarking on a new adventure can be exciting and a bit intimidating. Travel anxiety happens. New destinations are different and typically far away from the familiarity of home. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most common fears we hear so we can quiet yours.

Our most important piece of travel advice is to get some sort of travel insurance before any trip you take. Your travel professional will find a plan that fits your vacation perfectly. Should anything happen, they’ll be the point of contact so you don’t have to. Having trip protection will also help you in every situation listed below.


What If I Miss My Flight?

We always advise you get to the airport 2-3 hours early, but sometimes life happens. If you think you’re going to miss your flight, first call your travel agent (or the airline if you purchased your ticket from them). Make sure to explain your emergency. In situations like this, clients of Willamette Intl Travel have access to our 24/7 emergency assist service.

If you do miss your flight and are at the airport, go to the airline ticket counter (or find a gate agent if you are inside security) and explain your situation. Sometimes they’ll be able to book you on another flight, space permitting. Maintaining a calm, polite manner, and treating the agent with respect will boost your odds of them being able to assist you. In other words; stay calm and use please and thank you.

Worst Case:

You’ll have to pay the difference between the fare for the flight you missed, and the flight you’re trying to be on.

When All Else Fails:

You may have to purchase a new ticket all together and chalk it up to a lesson learned.

What if the Airline Loses My Luggage

The idea of an airline losing your luggage is one of the bigger causes of travel anxiety out there. The idea is annoying, especially when you just arrived for vacation. If it does happen, we promise, it’s not the end of the world. The good news is that odds are your luggage isn’t lost as much as it’s delayed.

The first thing you need to do is contact your airline’s baggage office, in the baggage claim area. File the bag-claim form they give you and ask about their policy for reimbursing you for lost toiletries and other essentials. Most bags are recovered and will be delivered to you (at home, a hotel, wherever) at the airlines expense, so make sure you stay polite. Minimize the inconvenience of lost luggage by seeing our packing tips.

Worst Case:

About 2% of delayed luggage disappears forever. If your bag vanishes for good, there’s a form you can fill out that itemizes what was inside.

Remember not to pack valuables such as, cash, jewelry, artwork, or electronics in your checked luggage. The airlines are not liable to reimburse you for these items.

When All Else Fails:

To get reimbursed for covered items, you don’t have to dig for receipts. Just go online and print out the current value of comparable “used” items. Airlines don’t usually reimburse the cost of a brand new item.

What if My Passport is Stolen

A stolen or lost passport while abroad is no one’s idea of a good time. If your passport is stolen or lost while abroad then you’ll need to contact the closest U.S. Embassy for assistance.

Ask for the Consular Section to make your report of what happened. They’ll be able to tell you what requirements are needed and where you can get a new passport photo taken.

Worst Case

Your passport was stolen, and without it, you won’t be allowed back into the country. Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate ASAP. With luck, you listened to your travel consultant and either packed a photo-copy or emailed yourself a scanned copy of your passport, which will speed up the process of getting you a new one.

When All Else Fails

Bust out your emergency stash of cash, which we’re sure you brought along for just such an occasion. This should be able to hold you over until you get your hands on your new credit cards and/or passport.

What if I Need Emergency Medical Help on My Vacation

Few U.S. based health-insurance plans offer coverage outside the USA. Therefore, trip insurance is a very important component of your travel plans. Willamette Intl Travel ALWAYS recommends trip insurance for international trips to our clients.

We also suggest keeping a letter on you from your primary healthcare provider that explains current medical condition. Along with a list of any medications (including any generic names) you are currently taking.

Worst Case

You have no insurance and rely on Medicare or Medicaid. Neither program protects you outside of the U.S.

Hopefully you purchased trip insurance as part of your travel reservations. Your travel consultant will be able to help with this.

When All Else Fails

Get to a doctor or hospital and sort out the payment later. Be prepared to pay for medical treatment with your credit card.

What if I Get Caught in a Natural or Man-Made Disaster?

Unfortunately, serious emergencies can happen anywhere, at any time. It’s a common travel anxiety that seems unrealistic, but it does happen.

It’s a good idea to email your itinerary, including your flight and hotel info, to a friend back home. Register your trip with the State Department so that the government will know where you are and be able to get you to safety. Lastly, be sure to follow any instructions provided by local authorities.

Worst Case

If you’re fortunate enough to have life and limb intact, money shouldn’t be a concern. When true emergencies occur, hotels and airlines are generally very sympathetic to travelers. Often they can waive cancellation fees and change restrictions.

When All Else Fails

Figure out a way to get yourself to a U.S. embassy or consulate which can provide safety and coordinate evacuations. Getting home may take some time, so be patient, and try to console the travelers around you. Who knows, maybe they’ll become a new friend.

Learn more about traveling to the different regions of the world on our Travel Destinations page.

Willamette International Travel