Coming back to real life has never been so enjoyable.
- My husband and I traveled to Greece, and lost luggage and travel delays resulted in dozens of unforeseen expenses.
- Having an emergency fund really saved the day, but I wish we had more foresight.
My husband and I traveled to Santorini, Greece for my sister’s wedding at the end of June. Sounds fun, right? Yeah no.
Things started to go downhill when the airline lost all of our luggage, including my bridesmaid’s dress, during the entire trip. And they really got worse when flight delays and cancellations forced us to rent a car, drive four hours over an international border, and hire a pilot friend to get us home through a thunderstorm at over Lake Michigan in a rickety, 60- year-old plane. I would like to joke.
We came away with an unbeatable travel story and also about $3,000 in unexpected and unavoidable bills. Yes, it stung, but I think we got through it as well as we could. Here’s how we made it – and the one step I really wish I had taken before leaving.
Limit the damage
The charges of our misadventure have piled up at an alarming rate. First we had to buy new clothes and toiletries to get by, then new outfits for the wedding. On the way home we added hotel stays, taxis, far too much food at the airport and an exorbitantly priced rental car, which turned out to be the only one we could find . Then there was gas for the ride home, plus the cost of our private flight.
From the start we knew we had to rely on our credit cards as we didn’t have much cash on us. But we were careful about the cards we used. Since we were in foreign countries for most of our trip, we stuck to using cards that didn’t charge foreign transaction fees, so as not to be charged an additional 3% on every purchase. .
When we had the chance to compare prices, we did and tried to stick to the cheapest choice whenever possible. And we reused as much of our new clothes as possible to reduce the amount we had to buy.
But ultimately, what saved us was our emergency fund. We make sure to keep several months of living expenses in a savings account so we can access them easily. I admit I never imagined needing it for something like this, but that’s kind of the point. You never know when unexpected costs will arise.
Our biggest mistake
Looking back, I really wish I had purchased travel insurance before we left. It wouldn’t have spared us a lot of headaches, but it would have helped soften the financial blow. Although we expect to get some compensation from the airline, it could take months before we see a dime. In the meantime, we are alone.
Travel insurance could have helped us get some things reimbursed much sooner. These policies vary in coverage, but most cover lost baggage. If you have to buy new clothes in the meantime, the insurer will reimburse you for these costs.
Many policies also offer travel delay coverage. If you find yourself unable to get to your destination due to flight delays or cancellations, as we have, travel insurance usually pays for the food, hotel and transportation costs incurred following this delay.
There are limits on how much a travel insurer will pay and sometimes there are waiting periods on this coverage, so it’s important to read the policy carefully to understand what you’re getting. And if you decide to buy a policy and later have questions, contact the travel insurer and ask before handing over any money.
I sincerely hope no one ever goes through what my husband and I went through, but travel these days is more unpredictable than usual. So if you have any trips coming up, consider getting travel insurance and make sure you have a plan for what you will do if you are forced to make any unexpected purchases along the way. Believe me, the time you spend planning now could be worth it later.
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