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Traveler Responsibilities and Best Practices, Part 1

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Traveler Responsibilities and Best Practices

Last week there was a news story that was online, on social media, and on TV. And the title of the story was inappropriately named.

The basic story title was “Cruise passengers left behind”. The correct name of the story should have been “Cruise passengers an hour late and miss the ship”. That little detail is buried in most of the stories as the news tries to play up the drama.

I don’t like the attention these passengers are getting for their own lack of personal responsibility.

It’s stated very clearly on every cruise ship what time you’re supposed to be back on board.

It’s not a suggestion. It is a requirement.

Ships have all types of arrangements and requirements that they have to meet in regard to their contracted port times, dealing with weather and tides, and getting their passengers safely to the next port of call on time to meet that set of obligations there.

Yes, the guests were left behind because they ignored the rules and didn’t get back in time. Yes, they had to figure out how to get to the next port. All of that is clearly stated in any type of ship information in regard to being back onboard on time. The ship did leave the client’s passports with the harbormaster, so that the clients would have their passports to be able to travel to get back to the ship at a future port. The fact that those passengers didn’t have their credit cards with them is, again, a matter of personal responsibility.

These folks would not expect an airplane to wait an hour for them, so it’s not appropriate to blame the 92,000-ton ship with the 2332 passengers that all got back to the ship on time to wait an hour on the 8 passengers who disregarded the rules.

There are aspects of your trip where there is an element of personal responsibility on the traveler. And those responsibilities actually protect you and your investment in your travel experience.

Then there are other habits that are just good ideas to help you have a better trip.

I want to discuss responsibilities and best practices in order to prepare you for any future trip, so you can avoid difficult issues as much as possible.

So, let’s talk about the things that you are responsible for when you travel.


One of your responsibilities is to read the terms and conditions of the travel supplier. They have rules and fees related to cancellations at various timeframes before travel. and situations during the trip. They apply to everyone the same. Some folks tend to think that because their situation is unusual or tragic or unexpected, that that the handling of their change or cancellation will be an exception.

Understand the penalties and exposures, and that they apply to you. If you can’t get to the tour because you’re sick or your flight’s canceled, the tour operator isn’t going to give you a refund. If you can’t get to your tour in Europe because the Iceland volcano erupted and flights have been cancelled, the tour operator isn’t going to give you a refund. That is what travel insurance is for. The tour operator has already paid for the hotels, the tour guide, the motor coach, and the attractions.

Read Some More

Read all of your travel paperwork. Take the time to do that.

It is your responsibility to read the details on your travel voucher or itinerary paperwork. Know where you are supposed to meet your transfer driver or tour guide. Know the meeting time. Read the details on what happens if you cannot find them – highlight the phone number you are supposed to call so you can easily find it when you are in a bit of a panic.

Follow the instructions on your voucher of who to call if there is an issue, and call them right away so the problem can be resolved. Don’t wait until later when it’s too late to have a positive outcome.

Be On Time Be Early

If you are scheduled to take a tour, like a food tour around a city, or a guided tour in a museum, get to the tour meeting point at least 15-20 min early. An even better approach is to get to the location an hour early and then get a coffee or gelato and enjoy people watching. Be familiar with where you are supposed to meet your transfer or your tour. Google that location or figure out exactly where it is. Anticipate traffic and add extra time.

If you are late to a shared tour, they will not wait for you. The tour starts at a specific time and they will depart, and it’s not fair to expect a refund if you were not there on time. 

Turn on Your Phone

Allocate the extra ten or twenty dollars for the Travel Pass with your cell phone provider and turn on your phone for a few days when you are trying to connect with arrangements in a foreign country. It’s important to be able to contact your transfer driver when you land at the airport, or to be able to find the tour group when you’re at the right place but can’t locate the guide.

One of my colleagues had a situation where their client couldn’t find the transfer driver, who was there at the airport. Because the traveler didn’t want to turn on their phone, they wandered around the arrivals hall and then had to find another way to the hotel, yet expected a refund even though the driver was at the airport ready to pick them up. Then the next day, the same travelers couldn’t find their private guide, yet still wouldn’t turn on their phone.

Ask for Help When There’s Still Time to Help 

I always tell my clients before their trip that if there is a problem during travel, reach out to local management to make them aware and give them a chance to resolve the issue. Do it when it first becomes a problem – don’t wait. Tell the hotel management that the shower only sprays cold water, or that the air conditioning doesn’t work. Give them a chance to fix it. If the hotel doesn’t do anything, then contact me so I can get involved. But we can’t remedy a problem if the stay is over, and then we hear about the issue afterward.

I feel like a just wrote a manifesto! But I think these are all good practices to remember when traveling. All of these actions are relevant for ensuring you receive the expected value from your travel arrangements, and to avoid frustration and wasted money.

I mentioned offering a list of habits to enhance your travel experience, but this article got so long, that those ideas are now going to be next week’s article, so stay tuned…