You’ve been invited to a destination wedding! Yay, you are about to have so much fun!! Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time flyer sometimes things just don’t work out the way you planned. And there is just something about traveling that can make even the smallest irritation seem like the worst thing in the world – probably because people have such high expectations about all the relaxation and fun they’re going to have on their destination wedding trip.
You know, like your kids aren’t going to argue one bit while you’re in a tropical paradise because what’s there to fight about in paradise, right? But then, guess what? You haven’t even made it to the pool at the resort and they’re already arguing about who knows what!
I also think it’s because people spend money that they normally don’t spend in their day to day lives, just so they can enjoy the wedding and have that escape for a week. And then their flight is canceled and there isn’t another flight until the next day and you just feel like you’ve lost so much more than a hotel night.
You’ve lost something more personal. You lost that bonding time with your kids or that whole day of rekindling the romance with your spouse. Ugh! So, when even the smallest of issues arise on your vacation it can feel devastating.
The most important thing you can do in every one of these situations (as in most life situations) is to remain calm. Pause. Take a deep breath – in slowly, out slowly, and again – until you can calmly approach your situation. No, I’m not patronizing you! Remember me, Mrs. Type A? I have to tell myself this every time I experience a travel delay as well! You’re not alone here.
Traveling is supposed to be so fun but it can also be so stressful. Take heart that a lot of people around you are stressed as well. Traveling makes a lot of people very anxious. Flights are delayed and/or canceled every day. Luggage is lost every day. Things just happen. But it’s how you handle them that will make the difference.
So we made a list of the most common travel issues our past clients have experienced and conferred with our industry peers on their experiences as well.
Based on these findings we’ve put together a list of the most common travel snafus that you may face when traveling for a destination wedding and what you can do if one of them happens to you. So, after you’ve taken that deep calming breath and found your zen, here’s how to handle the following:
*Please scroll through or click the links below to take you to that particular section.
- We just got off the plane and our shuttle isn’t here.
- I’m having a medical situation and I think I need to see a doctor.
- I’m having a real medical emergency and need to go to a hospital.
- I missed my flight!
- I missed my connecting flight (or my flight was canceled) and it’s the airline’s fault!
- The airline lost our luggage!
- My wallet/purse was stolen.
- The hotel doesn’t have my reservation.
We just got off the plane and our shuttle isn’t here.
Before you panic and grab the first cab you see, take a moment to ask for assistance – but you need to GET OUT of the airport building first. It’s easy to get overwhelmed but once you’ve left the airport terminal and walked OUTSIDE, past all the people inside the terminal vying for your attention by trying to get you to rent a car, sell you a timeshare, or sell you an excursion, and walked TO THE CURB, you should see a person that is holding a sign that lists your name or most likely, your resort.
If you don’t see either one, tell one of the people holding any sign listing a resort on it that you have a pre-paid shuttle service and what resort you’re going to and ask them to direct you to that person. Most of them are very nice and will point you in the correct direction.
If this didn’t help, in the travel documents that your destination wedding travel agent prepared for you (either in your email or in paper form), you will find 1.) your travel planner’s phone number and 2.) the phone number of the transportation service (often listed as “transfer” service). Call the shuttle service directly and let them know you’re waiting.
If they tell you that they don’t have your information and/or can’t shuttle you to your location, call your travel planner right away. Occasionally this happens but it’s easily remedied. Sometimes, they didn’t type a guest’s name correctly into their system or they inadvertently left it off, etc.
Remember that there is often a language barrier and or multiple computer systems talking to each other to schedule your transportation and literally thousands of transfers happening from any single destination every single day. This one is a really easy fix and should hopefully only cause you a little delay and you should be on your way quickly.
One last thought – I always advise our destination wedding guest travelers to add the phone number of the airline, hotel, shuttle company, their travel insurance, their medical insurance, and their personal doctor to their phone before they travel. That way it’s at your fingertips at a moment’s notice and you don’t even have to search for it.
I’m having a medical situation and I think I need to see a doctor.
It stinks to get sick while you’re on vacation, but germs, viruses, and slip and falls don’t seem to care that you’re having fun! If you think you might like to see a doctor while you’re on vacation you could call your at-home doctor, if you have one, and ask their advice.
Or call the on-site doctor at the property you’re staying at. Most resorts will have an on-site doctor that can come directly to your room or you can go to the doctor’s room. The best bet here is to simply pick up the phone in your room and call the front desk to ask if there is an on-site doctor. If not, they can direct you to the closest doctor that can help you.
There is typically a fee associated with this service and you need to be prepared to pay that fee directly to the doctor. Since not all US plans cover you while traveling internationally, hopefully, you purchased travel insurance that covers medical issues while traveling. Even still, a lot of travel insurances will require you to pay for your medical services on the spot, file a claim with your US health insurance, and they will pay only if that claim is denied.
I advise calling your travel insurance immediately (as in, while you’re on vacation and while the medical situation is happening) and following any instructions they give you for submitting a claim. You will need to keep all receipts and documentation from the doctor and any photo/video evidence.
Most people do not realize that in other countries you must pay for your medical on the spot. You can’t wait for the insurance to pay and/or have them send you a bill later. You pay it all right then and there. Because of this our family always purchases travel insurance that is “primary medical”, purchases all our travel on a credit card that also offers some travel protection, and brings an empty AMEX just in case of emergencies. Life happens on vacation and at destination weddings, too, unfortunately!
I’m having a real medical emergency and need to go to a hospital.
Then get your butt to the hospital! Call the front desk immediately! They can get a doctor to your room, in a lot of cases, and can call an ambulance for you and help you get to them or them to you. 911 is not a thing in all countries and you need to enlist the help of those that can help you the fastest.
Like in my last comments on seeing a doctor, call your travel insurance carrier right away, document and keep EVERYTHING, be prepared to pay in full for the medical coverage you’re receiving, and reach out to your destination wedding travel agent or planner so they can help facilitate you in any way they can if you’re having a medical emergency.
I missed my flight!
Oh man, that totally sucks!! You are not off to a great start (or a great finish, if you’re destination wedding vacation is over). If you missed your flight and it was your fault (you overslept or were having such a great airport lunch that you forgot to board the plane) or you missed your flight and it wasn’t your fault (accident on route that you can’t get around, flat tire, the car breaks down) you may still be able to work this out. If you’re not at the airport yet, call the airline and talk with them over the phone ASAP. Tell them you’re on the way to the airport but you may not make the flight, due to circumstances out of your control.
While each airline handles this differently if you’re at the airport within 2 hours of your plane departing the airline will typically try to get you on the next flight out that day as “stand by status”. Hopefully, that next flight out isn’t full!
If your flight was the last flight out for the day you may be out of luck. It’s possible you now must buy a new ticket. Yikes! Your travel insurance is probably not going to cover this if the missed flight was due to your own actions. The best thing you can do is go on over to the ticket counter for your airline and beg for forgiveness in the nicest sweetest way possible and see if they can help you book a new ticket that will not cause you to take out a second mortgage on your house.
My advice – be really really nice to the airline agent! They deal with a lot of nonsense every day and the best thing you can do is be a pot of honey. They will normally do all they can to help you out when you’re nice.
I missed my connecting flight (or my flight was canceled) and it’s the airline’s fault!
Oh man, that totally sucks! I hate to hear that! In the case of missing a connecting flight that was the fault of the airline, they will work this out for you.
Your airline will work to book you on the next available flight. If that flight does not leave until the next day, they will typically put you in a hotel for the night and provide meals for you, that they will pay for.
If this is not an option, in some cases they may even book you on another airline so you can continue to your destination. If the flight delay was weather-related, though, they may not offer any compensation for a room or food. Hopefully, you bought travel insurance!
I know this is super annoying, but this is one of those travel scenarios where you have to just roll with it. There’s nothing you could have done to avoid it and you’re stuck where you are anyway.
Make the most of it! Take a breath and relax. Have a fabulous dinner. Get lost in a great book. If you’re traveling as a family, play a game together. Catch up on work so you’re not stressed when you return. If you’re able, check out what the city has to offer.
The airline lost our luggage!
My biggest fear when I check a bag and it’s not a direct flight! Obviously, do not pack anything in your bag that you can’t live without. That goes for your medications, money, valuables, and anything of sentimental importance to you. You’ll be devastated if you lose those items and some of those items are on the list of items that the airline will not reimburse you for.
I always advise those traveling for a destination wedding NOT to pack your tux, bridesmaids dress, or wedding dress. Take those in your carry on. These items are not easily or quickly replaceable and should go in your carry-on luggage.
I recently saw a story where a groom lost his wedding tux due to a missing bag and had only a t-shirt and shorts to wear to his wedding. Were the photos hilarious? Yes! But it clearly was not the outfit he had planned. Fortunately, it looks like his sweet bride had the temperament to take it in stride. And the pictures were definitely memorable. https://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a10335622/groom-suit-lost-delta-wedding-iceland/
DO NOT LEAVE the airport without filing a claim with your airline and getting a claim/reference number. You can use this number to check for the status of the luggage online or by phone.
If they find your bag, they will bring it to your hotel. You don’t need to go back to the airport to retrieve it. If they ask you to wait in case it arrives on another flight, tell them you need to get to your destination, and they need to deliver it to you at your resort when it arrives. The last thing you want to do it wait for 5 hours for a bag that may or may not arrive. It’s their responsibility to get it to you – they are the ones that lost it.
The airline may give you a small amount of money, so you can purchase “reasonable” items while you wait for your returned bag. “Reasonable” items would be toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, deodorant, a change of clothes. “Reasonable” is not a Kate Spade handbag. You may have to purchase these necessary items on your own first but be sure to keep all receipts.
Many credit cards will have some type of lost luggage coverage if you purchased your destination wedding travel with that credit card and your travel insurance may offer coverage for this as well if you purchased destination wedding travel insurance.
It takes 2 – 3 weeks for an airline to deem your luggage truly lost. If they do not find your luggage you may be reimbursed for the missing items, but you’ll need to give a detailed list of what was in the luggage.
It sounds tedious but making an itemized packing list of what goes in your bag can really save you in this situation. You might also consider laying out all the items together before packing them into your suitcase and taking a quick cell phone photo before loading all the items into your suitcase.
The law says that the airline reimbursement limit is no less than $3,400 for a lost bag but that doesn’t mean you automatically get $3,400. It means that your airline will have to pay at least that amount IF YOU CAN PROVE that the contents of the bag were more valuable than $3,400. Otherwise, you get reimbursed for the value you can reasonably prove. If they have already paid you to replace the reasonable items, this amount will be deducted from the final amount you’ll receive from them.
To prevent lost bags before it happens, always include your name and contact information on the bag tag attached to your luggage. Consider adding a piece of paper in your suitcase that has your information listed so the airline will see it if the tags get ripped off your bag and they are trying to find the owner of your bag.
Also, make sure the airline has your bag tagged correctly when you drop it off to them. And, snap a quick cell phone pic of your luggage before you hand it over, so you can show an image of it to the airline if you need to report is missing.
Consider carrying a change of clothes (and maybe your bathing suit) in your carry on, so you have something to wear at the spur of the moment if your luggage is delayed or lost. Fortunately, according to the US Department of Transportation, you have less than a 1% chance that an airline will actually lose your bag.
My wallet/purse was stolen.
Stay calm. Realizing you’ve had your purse or wallet stolen can be a very frightening and unnerving experience and it’s easy to lose your wits. This is a time when you need to remain as calm and levelheaded as possible.
Stop where you are if it’s safe. If not, get to a safe location (your hotel, maybe) immediately and assess the situation. Did you see who took it or did someone take it without your knowledge? Where were you when you last had it? Think through the situation so you can properly give correct information to the police.
Call your bank and credit cards immediately and report your cards stolen. The faster you report this, the less likely you will be held liable for any fraudulent charges and the more likely you’ll be able to stop any charges before they happen.
In many cases your bank can also help you get access to your funds in an alternative way or mail a new card to your destination wedding location right away, so your destination wedding vacation plans don’t come to a screeching halt.
We once had a couple whose credit card was compromised in the US while they were in Turks and Caicos and AMEX had a new card to them at their hotel in Turks and Caicos within 2 days. You could also consider having a family member or friend wire you some temporary cash through Western Union if needed. Your travel insurance may offer financial coverage for this situation as well.
Call the police! Even if they never find your purse you’ll likely need this documentation for insurance and banking purposes. If you’re outside the US you need to notify the US Embassy or Consulate. Here is a link to find a US Embassy in the country you’re in – https://www.usembassy.gov/.
Before you left on your destination wedding vacation, hopefully, you’ve followed our past advice and made physical photocopies and have scanned copies of your driver’s license, passport, and important documents. You may need these at the Embassy.
You’ll want to allow extra time at the airport when returning to your home destination if your passport or other documentation was stolen.
The hotel doesn’t have my reservation.
If your hotel is telling you they can’t find your reservation or they are telling you you’ve only paid for some of your room but not all the days and you have definitely paid for your destination wedding travel in full, call your destination wedding travel agent or planner on the spot!
Occasionally (as in, very rarely) this happens but it’s easily remedied, though it can be quite startling when it happens! It’s often due to a name or payment mistype in their system, how the resort’s computer system is communicating with the original booking system or just a general glitch.
This happened to 1 of our destination wedding guests this last year and, fortunately, they called us while they were standing at the check-in desk and we were able to provide the proper documentation to the staff on the spot. They had about a 15-minute delay at check in but all was well.
This travel issue is a really easy fix, should hopefully only cause you a little delay in getting checked in, and you should be on your way quickly. Seriously, if you ever have any issues with your check-in process or a resort tells you that you owe additional money that you know you should not owe, don’t pay it until you have reached out to your destination wedding travel agent or planner.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to be included in your friend or family member’s destination wedding, congratulations! We can tell you from our years of experience in planning destination weddings and destination wedding travel that a destination wedding is often used as a way to “cull” the guest list, which means that you are clearly loved and appreciated by the couple and they have chosen you to share in the most important day of their lives so far.
In most cases, your destination wedding travel will go very smoothly. In the off chance that you do experience one of the above travel issues, we hope that we have given you some solid advice on how to handle what comes at you with peace of mind.