Shocking summer holiday disasters revealed - what can you do?

Holiday nightmare

You look forward to your summer holiday all year, so when things don't go to plan, it can feel like the end of the world.

If you're unlucky and holiday goes awry, it's certainly worth knowing what you can do to get back on track.

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Here we reveal seven shocking holiday disasters, and what you should do if you're faced with a similar disaster.

1. Hotel nightmares
On a recent Reddit thread, one of the most terrifying hotel stories came from a man travelling in Egypt. He said: "I stayed in a really sketchy hotel in Cairo, with mice running along the skirting and bare wires protruding from the wall just above my pillow. After a couple of days I wanted to find out whether the wires were live, so I touched them together and shorted out three buildings."

What can you do?
The best way to protect yourself from dodgy accommodation is to check online reviews of the hotel before you go. If it's too late, and you're already there, try to sort the problem. If your room isn't right, ask to be moved. If the hotel itself is a nightmare and you are travelling independently, you don't have to put up with a poor hotel, you can vote with your feet and find an alternative.

If you travelled with a package company, speak to your rep - it's their job to put things right. If they say they can't help, make sure you document all your problems carefully (including your efforts to get the rep to take action), so you can contact the tour operator on your return and ask for compensation.

2. Illness or injury
One traveller runs into trouble on holiday so often she has started a blog. One of the most impressive mistakes was the time she knocked herself out and broke her nose with her camera while zip lining in Cambodia. Luckily her camera was running throughout.

What can you do?
The best approach to dealing with a medical emergency starts before you leave home - with a comprehensive travel insurance package. It's the only way to make sure all your medical costs are covered.

3. Hotel scam
Earlier this year one family hit the headlines after booking a dream trip to New York, and showing up to discover the apartment they had booked didn't exist: the website they had booked through had been duped by a scammer. They were forced to pay for expensive last-minute hotel rooms, and move several times during the trip.

What can you do?
If you are booking an apartment direct online through a third party site, it's important to only use accommodation that has been on the site for a long time, and has plenty of positive reviews. You should also make sure you can get in touch with the owners easily, and steer clear of anyone who asks you to pay outside the website or send money direct.

If you are booking through a website, check the additional guarantees they make when it comes to refunds and alternative accommodation, so that if the worst comes to the worst, you know where you stand.

4. Excess baggage
One blogger revealed her first trip away with her boyfriend and his parents was to Switzerland, and while her luggage was within sensible limits on the way out, it was suddenly a whopping 5kg over the luggage allowance on the way home. It was only when she was going through the humiliation of repacking in front of everyone at check in that she realised all the extra weight was due to the quantity of chocolate she had bought.

What can you do?
A study by MyVoucherCodes found that these charges cost us £619 million - and to add insult to injury, 83% of us don't even use the extra stuff we packed. Your best bet is therefore to make sure you are well under the limit on the way out (you can weigh your case on the bathroom scales), so there's room for shopping when you're out there. If you are in any doubt as to whether your case is too heavy for the return trip, wear your heaviest clothes, put as many heavy items in your hand luggage as possible, and add 'lighter luggage' to your shopping list for Black Friday.

5. Flight cancellation
At the beginning of the summer holiday period, passengers were stranded in Spain, after local weather meant air traffic restrictions. Passengers reported spending hours in the airport, and some of those sent to spend the night at hotels woke to a note pushed under the door saying their replacement flight had been cancelled too.

What can you do?
If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to assistance from the airline, which can include food, phone calls and accommodation - depending on how long you are delayed for - and where the flight is going from and to. You may also be able to claim compensation, depending on whether the delay was due to something the airline did, or something beyond their control. The amount you get will depend on the distance you are travelling and the length of the delay. Unfortunately in this instance, weather problems mean no compensation was due.

6. Crime
Daniella Westbrook ran into this one earlier this year when two men on motorbikes grabbed her Prada bag while she was on holiday in Spain. It's one of thousands of crimes reported by Brits on holiday this year.

What can you do?
If you are a victim of crime - whether it's a mugging or having your pocket picked - you'll need to cancel your cards and any travellers' cheques, and block your phone as soon as possible. Next, visit the local police to report it, and get a crime number. If you have holiday insurance and you want to make a claim, you'll need this number in order to do so. Your insurer is also likely to have an emergency phone number, so give them a call, and they should be able to help you get what you need in order to get back on your feet.

7. Humiliation
Some people have taken to the Whisper confessions app to air their shocking holiday tales. These include the man who recalled the time his shorts got caught in the lift doors on holiday. He was unable to get into the lift to go to the ground floor, so stood waiting for the next one. Unfortunately, he didn't realise his shorts had been caught in the closing doors, and when the lift went down, so did his shorts.

What can you do?
Unfortunately there's very little you can go to recover from this level of humiliation - you just have to chalk it up as a particularly memorable day of your holiday.

The five worst holiday disasters
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The five worst holiday disasters

If you are a victim of a strike, or any other event beyond the airline's control (including ash clouds!), they must offer you a refund (in which case it's up to you to find a way home) or an alternative flight. While you are waiting for the flight you have the right to food and refreshment and accommodation.

If you are on a package holiday, your tour operator is entirely responsible for looking after you until you get back to the UK.

This is more likely to happen due to the financial crisis, but in some situations you are covered. 

If you pay by credit card and it's over £100, you'll get a refund from the card company. 

Your travel insurance may well cover you too, but check before you go.  

Talk to the airline, and if it is temporarily misplaced they should arrange for it to be sent to your accommodation, and you should be either given cash to cover the essentials in the interim.

If it's completely lost you must wait 21 days and then make a claim for compensation. If you are travelling as part of a package you can claim costs from your operator.

If you are travelling within the EU you need an EHIC card, which gives you access to public healthcare. However, this won't necessarily be free, and if you need extra services such as accommodation for a carer, a helicopter home or a delayed flight, you could end up seriously out of pocket.

The only protection that will guarantee you will be looked after without running up a horrendous debt is by having travel insurance - which often covers up to £10 million of costs.

The most common form of theft is pick-pocketing, followed by theft from a car and bag snatching. Meanwhile, 752,000 of those surveyed had items stolen from their hotel room or villa.

If you have anything stolen, your only protection is insurance. You need to tell the local police immediately and get a crime reference for your travel insurer.


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