how to avoid common travel mishaps, international travel tips, common travel mistakes, what to know to travel internationally

How To Avoid Common International Travel Mishaps

Is it your first time flying internationally? Learn how to avoid these common travel mishaps.

Is it your first time flying internationally? Don’t run into the issues that I did. I can’t believe I actually made it to Chennai. Wait until you here the SAGA that is the Amritha Alladi trip across the world. It should have taken any NORMAL person like one day. Me? It took three….

I left from Tampa on Monday morning. My sister dropped me off at the airport. It didn’t really dawn on me that I wouldn’t be seeing her for five months until she got a little teary-eyed. It was sad, but I wasn’t too worried because thanks to Google video chat we can stay closely in touch now.

how to avoid common travel mishaps, international travel tips, common travel mistakes, what to know to travel internationally

Lesson 1: Plan connections with enough buffer time so if your first flight is delayed, you are less likely to miss the next one.

The flight to Detroit was short. Nothing to complain about. What I WILL complain about is the three hour flight delay. I waited INSIDE the aircraft for my next flight (Detroit-Tokyo) for over three hours. This means I knew I’d be missing my next connection in Tokyo to Singapore. Now this is the little bugger that screwed me up for the rest of my trip…

Lesson 2: Carry healthy, satisfying snacks for the plane, especially if you have special dietary needs

On the plane I decided I couldn’t worry about it. Hell, I was in the air, and couldn’t make any calls. I spent most the flight reading and sleeping. When I finally got the crappy airline food (gotta love prepackaged, over-processed airplane food) I actually ate it because I was starved. When the snacks rolled around it was worse. Somehow they think being vegetarian means you’re a rabbit. The people next to me got a sumptuous turkey sandwich with CHEESE. I got dry carrots and grapes. No matter what, I will always think the airline food is selected by sadistic bulimics who wish to torture us with unedible mystery food. For “breakfast” before arrival I got some disgusting unidentifiable rice-type dish with WARM cooked oranges. Yes, slices of warm mandarin oranges. Ew. OH WAIT. the icing on the cake: I got a rock hard bagel. For the past 20 years I have traveled, I have gotten this same species of rock hard bagel. Every. Single. Time. My sister and I joke that this ridiculously stone-hard bagel could be used as a weapon. We wonder how they let it on the plane and yet security makes us put toothpaste in little baggies.

Anyway, they didn’t even give me cream cheese for this disgusting, jawbreaker of a bagel. Needless to say I didn’t eat it.

Got off the plane, missed my connection, got put up in at the Radisson in Tokyo. I didn’t do much in Tokyo. Just caught up on sleep. Woke up the next morning to fly to Singapore. Slept the ENTIRE ride to Singapore because the two seats next to me were vacant and I could stretch.

Slept some more….and then the  real adventure began….

I arrived in Singapore looking forward to the frozen coffee drink I’d get there (as I always do at Singapore airport–I’m a creature of habit so it was a must). But I had to get my boarding pass at the Singapore Airlines counter (in Terminal 2) first, because Northwest, after the delay, had rerouted me through Singapore Airlines.

Lesson 3: If flying multiple airlines, ensure bookings are confirmed with all, and tickets are actually issued.

I went to the counter only to discover that I had NO ticket. The agent told me it was only a reservation that Northwest had made on my behalf. Wonderful. She told me to go back to the JAL transfer counter back in Terminal 1. I took a shuttle (Whoops) to Terminal 3…..had to get back to Terminal 2 to take a shuttle to Terminal 1 (clock ticking in the meantime…flight 2 hours away….yes, I know I have racked up more blonde points than Paris Hilton on this journey). Anyway, so I go to the JAL desk. They say they can’t help because the original bookings and ticketing were made by Northwest. I have to go to the Northwest counter instead. But as fate would have it, the Northwest counter doesn’t open until 3 a.m….I start panicking.

Lesson 4: Inform banks and credit card companies where and when you will be traveling.

Now, I go to a pay phone. Time to pull out the handy dandy credit card, whose balance my dad had cleared for me before this trip just so his little princess could use it for emergencies like this. I try calling India. For some reason it doesn’t work. Way too many digits in the long-distance number I think? So I call and wake up my sister in Tampa instead. She calls India. I call her back because she can’t call me back and neither can my parents on the pay phone…We continue this pattern for a good 45 minutes: me calling sister, sister calling parents, parents give sister instruction to give to me. I call sister back to get the instructions. Meanwhile (I’m getting pissed and unnerved because I still haven’t gotten my frozen coffee drink!) since I’m making SO MANY CALLS, after a point my credit card STOPS WORKING. And the operator can’t help me because they can’t charge my credit card anymore. I freak out thinking that all the gazillion calls have perhaps somehow surpassed my $1300 limit– but that can’t be! So I figure it has to do with the fact I didn’t let Bank of America know I was traveling and they thought it was someone else abusing my card. So now I pull out the debit card (balance: $150)–as IF I can afford to. More calls. My sister tells me that my dad told HER that I need to go to Terminal 3 (YAY, another field trip) to go to the JET AIRWAYS counter. (See, my original Singapore-Madras/Chennai flight had been a Jet Airways one, because Northwest is a Jet Airways partner and doesn’t go to India) So he told me to fall at the feet of Jet Airways, begging them to give me a ticket to Madras because of Northwest’s mistake and because my ORIGINAL ticket had been confirmed with Jet Airways.

I go to Terminal 3 and…yep, you guessed it…counter closed. The Jet Airways counter doesn’t open til 3 hours before a flight. At this point I’m about ready to pull out my hair, run straight into a wall, and spontaneously combust all at once. I make more calls. My sister finally tells me my dad DID finally contact a travel agent we have in India to fix allllll of it. He got me a ticket on the morning flight to Chennai by Jet Airways. He confirmed it all and I’d just have to do is go to the transfer counter (Terminal 3, Jet Airways) in the morning to get the boarding pass.

You better believe I got the boarding pass. Thank God.

Share my pain?

Travel can be tricky at times. Have you ever gone on a trip where you keep running into logistical issues? Delays, misplaced IDs, lost baggage, airline issues or something else? What’s the worst or funniest travel experience you encountered? How did you get through it? Let me know in the comments!

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2 comments on “How To Avoid Common International Travel Mishaps

  1. Pingback: Deja Vu: Greetings from Tokyo « In A Nut Shell

  2. Pingback: Notes from the motherland: Reporting from Chennai, India – In Transit Travel + Food Blog

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