Culture & Entertainment

How to survive sticky travel situations

Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

How to survive sticky travel situations

Guest blog by Sarah Manning

Travel Regardless of how much you plan your summer travel, things can always go wrong. Here are some tips on how to keep your cool when things heat up while travelling. Be prepared Taking a wrong turn in a foreign country can sometimes lead you to new and wonderful experiences that you didn’t know you wanted. Or it can leave you lost. Pamela MacNaughtan, the writer behind SavoirFaireAbroad.com, was prepared when she got lost in Guadalajara, Mexico. “When I’m on the road, I carry a charger for my phone to make sure it doesn’t die,” she says. “As an extra backup, I carry the business card of the hotel with me as well.” Wherever you end up, there’s a chance unexpected illnesses will strike while you’re abroad. Food, a time difference or climate change can trigger an unwanted bout of poor health. Personally, my family has a history of stomach bugs in Rome. “I carry a small first-aid kit with Immodium, super-strength Motrin, Tums and hydration tablets, as it can be hard to find a pharmacy,” says MacNaughtan. Stay calm Last spring, my sister and I were taking a train from Prague to Munich. The train broke down in suburban Germany and none of the employees spoke English. Then the entire staff left. While I began to panic in the residential train station, my sister remained calm and devised a plan. We collaborated with the other English-speaking passengers, asked locals to help us plan our route to Munich, and expressed our gratitude to the employees when we dashed onto the final train of the night without buying tickets. Use technology I used to think of travel as an opportunity to disconnect from my world at home. I would leave my laptop and cellphone at home. Times have changed. We already know that a phone is a great tool for navigating a city. But how else can it help? “I keep copies of all my important travel documents in a Gmail folder in case I need to reprint them,” says  MacNaughtan. There are also great apps you can use. If you find yourself with an extra day because of missed, delayed or cancelled transportation, TripAdvisor’s Offline City Guides can be most helpful. The guides provide reviews of attractions, suggestions and even planned walking tours. The best part? You can download them using hotel Wi-Fi and access them without incurring international roaming charges. Talk to the locals “I always make an effort to be polite and try to speak a few words in the local language,” explains MacNaughtan. “This helps break down the awkwardness.” In Nice, I butchered the French for “How much is the admission?” so horribly, I was awarded free admission into the museum. Once inside, I couldn’t read any of the item’s descriptions, but I was proud of my attempted communication, and the employees got a good laugh. Before I travel anywhere, I try to make a list of words in the local language of the place I’m visiting. Words and expressions like “thank you,” “please” and “help” are my first choices. Language barriers can sometimes be an issue while travelling, but giving a friendly smile and pointing to the Canadian flag pinned to your bag can usually get people communicating. Hand gestures, seemingly archaic forms of communication, work wonderfully in any language. (Photo courtesy FlickrCC/Spreng Ben)
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How to survive sticky travel situations

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