When travelling goes... sideways.

CICO - When Travel Goes Sideways

Chris: [00:00:00] Alright, what's happened?

Chris VO: As you may know by now, Kate, that's my wife, and I, we're headed to Europe later on in the year.

Chris VO: Surprise! This podcast is actually me asking people for travel tips for myself, but I think you've worked that out already.

Chris VO: Anyway. Kate got an email last night.

Kate Minotti: So this is translated from Italian.

Chris: Okay.

Kate Minotti: Due to serious health problems, I am forced to temporarily close the structure in spite of myself.

Chris: Oh. Okay.

Chris VO: Our accommodation in Rome has been cancelled. Not without good reason. The person who runs the place apparently has some serious health problems.

Chris VO: So although it's completely understandable, we're now on the back foot because this was the first night of our trip away and we don't want to be worried about rushing off the plane and trying to find somewhere to sleep.

Kate Minotti: I'd rather look at it tonight though and make sure, but we just need to be aware that we might be paying more because there's probably not gonna be much left.

Chris: It is

Chris: what it is.

Kate Minotti: We'll figure it out.

Chris VO: It's actually pretty appropriate that this is cropped up now. Genuinely, this happened last night as I'm writing this, the Thursday before the episode is due, [00:01:00] because I too like to live dangerously. For a long time, I've had episode 3 earmarked as some sort of when travels go wrong episode, but I hate that kind of talk.

Chris VO: Sure, it gets clicks online, and sure, stuff can and does go really wrong for lots of people when they go travelling. Getting really sick, or injured, or becoming victims of crime. But for the vast majority of problems that you and I are going to face when we go travelling, they're things like your booking getting cancelled.

Chris VO: Tricky, inconvenient maybe, but not insurmountable. Problems that risk spoiling your trip, but ones that with the right preparation and the right attitude, are just bumps in the road, or curveballs, or something that makes a really good story later on. So rather than turn this episode into 10 things you must never do on holiday, let's take a look at some of the curveballs our travellers have been thrown,

Chris VO: And how they managed to knock them out of the park for a home run with all bases loaded and bottom of the night, uh, yeah, anyway, I should stop with the [00:02:00] baseball reference. I'm way out of my depth.

Chris VO: I've got a few stories here about how our travelers got themselves out of some potentially inconvenient situations, and I would love it if you'd play along. So I'm going to ask what you would do in some of these situations. If you've got your phone handy and you're not driving, let me know what you would do on Instagram or any of the other social medias.

Chris VO: This is when travel goes sideways. On episode three of Check In and Check Out.

Chris VO: For our first potentially sticky situation, we're in Tokyo and we've just landed at Narita Airport. This is my friend Flick. She and I have known each other for a while now. We used to work together in a big box hardware store. She worked in the nursery and was my go to for everything plant related. And everything Japan related.

Chris VO: She's Been a few times.

Chris: How many times actually is it, do you reckon?

Felicity: I think it's about 23.

(sfx fades)

Chris: 23 times?

Chris VO: Now while we're at it, quickly, there's another episode in that. If you've got experience with Japan, [00:03:00] hit me up and I might have enough material to focus on a country that seems to capture a lot of people and it would be fun to find out why I've never been and you guys seem to love it so much so let me know.

Chris VO: But anyway, back to the airport.

Chris VO: So, Flick's been to Japan plenty of times, and by extension, gone through Narita airport plenty of times. And she knows what you should expect, right? It's Japan, so yes, there will be a lot of people, but everything will usually be very orderly and efficient.

Felicity: You might have to queue up for a bit, but the line usually moves fairly quick.

Chris VO: But that's not the scene that we're greeted with when we get off the plane. Far from it. There's more than the usual mass of people, and unusually for Japan, there's actually an air of disorganization.

We've landed in Tokyo in the middle of a typhoon. And although our plane's landed, flights are getting cancelled left, right and centre, which means boarded passengers are now starting to de plane and flood back into the airport.

Felicity: So there were a lot of people complaining and it was really packed. We [00:04:00] got our bags that got out into the main hall. I had never seen it. it was like jam packed with people. Absolutely jam packed.

Right, well at least we've landed.

And although it's been a long wait to get through customs, sometimes waiting is all you can do, right? But now it's finally time to jump on the train and head into Tokyo. Only thing is...

Felicity: They'd stopped all the trains. Most of the buses weren't running. So people got stuck there at the. airport.

Oh boy.

Felicity: They've got these big escalators going down to the station. that were just cues and cues of people like hundreds and hundreds of curing up to even get down the escalator to the station. But there was no point because there was no trains.

Okay, so no trains are running. Second option would be to try and find a bus to take us into Tokyo City.

Felicity: So we got up to the counter for the buses and the lady said buses have just stopped there's just too many people we can't, they were actually a bit panicked and I've never seen anything like [00:05:00] it in Japan before. But they were just so overrun with people.

All right. No trains, no buses. We're now stuck at Tokyo Airport. What would you do in this situation?

So much of problem solving on holiday is keeping a cool head, thinking on your feet, and being flexible. So let's come up with a few solutions together.

I might try and put a Q& A on Spotify as well. If you're on your phone right now, and you're listening through Spotify, you should be able to pop your answer in. Otherwise, hit me up on the old Instagram and tell me what you would do.

I'm sitting here thinking that it might be an idea to call the hotel now and ask them to cancel the booking, if that's even an option this close to rocking up, to try and maybe recoup some costs.

Then I might find out if there's a bar at this airport, or we choose the most comfortable looking piece of airport carpet we can find, and we try and wait it out.

Flick though not an option because she's got an early morning train booked from her hotel to her next destination.

So what solution did Flick come up with?

Felicity: [00:06:00] We went outside and there were people coming into the airport in tax taxis. And the taxis were hovering around. We managed to talk a taxi driver into driving us into Tokyo and a lot of the highways were shut because there'd been some damage cause of the typhoon.

Felicity: And this guy said, oh, it's gonna take three hours cause I have to go around the long way. And yeah, it did, but he got us into a hotel. But it did take over three hours and it cost us, like, it could've ended up costing us a lot more. I think it cost us 500 bucks between the four of us,

Felicity: there's pictures of people at the airport. The next day there were hundreds and hundreds of people all sleeping on the floor in the airport cuz they couldn't get out. .

Felicity: I'll never forget that. . was unbelievable.

As the outcast song says, sometimes you can plan a pretty picnic, but you can't predict the weather. Ms. Jackson, Sometimes you're just going to be faced with this sort of stuff when you're [00:07:00] traveling and there really is no way to plan around it.

Pretty much all the travelers I speak to say it just comes down to being flexible enough in the moment to deal with it.

Flick was pretty lucky that she found a taxi driver willing to take her the long way into the city, but she was also thinking laterally enough to ask. This next situation is also one that I'm sure many of us have faced at one time or another.

Booking issues.

Probably the scariest moment I ever had while traveling was in France. The hotel cancelled my booking and just didn't tell me. A potential trap for new travellers is that a lot of these hotel booking sites, when you pre book online, they won't actually charge your card right away. Instead, they just charge your card whenever they feel like it, at any point, from when you book your trip, right up until the day that you arrive at your hotel.

I have a sneaking suspicion that they actually wait for a good exchange rate, but that's only a guess.

Either way, I got caught short one week, and that just so happened to be the week where my Parisian [00:08:00] hotel tried to charge my card, and it didn't go through. Long story short, I arrive at the hotel, and the French version of Basil Fawlty literally shoos me out of his hotel and onto the street at 8pm.

I managed to sort myself out of bed for the night at a hostel in a great spot. It was close to the Louvre and I actually saved some money, but it wasn't a particularly pleasant moment. So I know how much a fluffed booking can turn a relaxing trip into a panicked life admin moment.

It's time to introduce a new traveler. This is Rob. He's one half of a podcast called The Insiders and you would have heard his promo playing during our podcast. If you're into crazy stories about the service industry, it's worth a listen. The link is in the show notes. Let's join Rob in India where he's about to check into a hostel.

Rob - The Innsiders: I got a room at this hostel People are very nice I was in a smaller town on a edge of a desert into town just to walk around and go see things And then these two guys on a motorbike pull up and they're like Hey you have to come with us And I'm like [00:09:00] I don't what who are you They were from a hotel but I don't recognize them I such a hotel for 10 minutes checking in I you know I don't recognize these guys There's a billion people in India right Like I they are right

(SFX: motorcycle sounds)

Rob - The Innsiders: so they try to get me on the back of the bike

(SFX: Alarm sound, Chris talks through megaphone)

Freeze! This is the sketchy police. You have the right to remain off the motorcycle with the two random dudes on it, because are you kidding me? Is this not how people get abducted?

Having said that though... I guess this is the thing about traveling, right? You're in an unfamiliar environment, you're in an unfamiliar landscape, and maybe this is just the way things are done here. And I've had those moments where you maybe like hand over your passport to the guy operating the bike hire place and just go, well, maybe that's the way things are done here and that could be the last time I see that very important document.

I did get my passport back in the end, but does Rob get back to the hotel?

Rob - The Innsiders: I'm a big guy There's already two on a bike So the three of us don't fit So they kick the one guy off and now I'm like hanging on the back of this bike with this guy who's like half my size [00:10:00] We're weaving in and out of traffic you know around and everything else

Unbeknownst to Rob as we're weaving through traffic, Rob has been whisked away to sort out, of all things, a double booking

Rob - The Innsiders: So what happened was They checked me in But what they didn't realize was they had already had some family was checking in from the internet like had their reservation came in before I got there but they hadn't checked their email or whatever And that family I think was gonna pay more because there was a bunch of 'em they were gonna kick me out and I was again not that this should be acceptable really anywhere but yeah it's just like okay I have to understand it from their point of view Maybe this happens here now I don't think that really does happen in India at all that often I don't think it's considered common to do that but in my head I'm telling myself like it's just different

Sure as heck is different, Rob. I think for most folks, they'd prefer to handle their hotel bookings over the phone. Or via email where I don't have to talk to anyone because social interaction is terrifying, am I right?

Motorcycle pickups should be reserved for drug [00:11:00] deals or mafia activity or late night pizza delivery, not hostile bookings.

So now we're kicked out of our hostel and we're on the street again, right? Not exactly.

Rob - The Innsiders: what ended up happening was they let me stay for free but I had to sleep on the roof of the hotel I spent two nights sleeping on the roof of the hotel but I got I didn't charge me and then when the family checked out I got to go back to the room that I originally had you know booked when I got there it worked out in the end.

Quite how that situation has worked out, I don't know.

And I also don't know the takeaway from that story, by the way. I mean, I can't sit here on a podcast and endorse getting on the back of some dude's random motorcycle. But I guess sometimes all's well that ends well, right?

It might be just a reminder to stop and think every now and again, I guess. Let me know what you think.

Our final story is weirdly also motorcycle safety related. Let's welcome back in Shannon from the Why We Travel podcast. We're going to join her in Hoi An, [00:12:00] solo backpacking around Vietnam.

Shannon Strong: I had rented a motorbike, which is quite dangerous honestly, if you really don't know what you're doing. And I didn't really know what I was doing. And it is a really common thing in Southeast Asia for tourists to go over there, rent a motorbike and things happen to them.

Shannon, please, I'm Australian. I feel like as soon as we land at Denpasar Airport in Bali, we get handed our complimentary bintang singlet and a Yamaha exhaust shaped burn that's kind of weeping on the calf and it's gross.

I feel like we, of all people, know that you shouldn't be messing around with motorcycles in Southeast Asia.

Shannon Strong: It's kind of sad because I was actually just parking the bike, but I gave it a little gas to get up a curb, which was stupid. And it just Really lurched it up the curb. And so then it like, kind of took me forward and then I fell over with it and it just smashed my fingers.

Shannon Strong: So I like stood up and it was just two fingers kind of hanging to the side there. I was like, this isn't right.

Uh oh. Clean up on aisle four. [00:13:00] What's the situation here guys? What do we do? I mean, I guess we should probably get some medical attention for Shannon's fingers.

Let's first try the local doctor in Hoi An, where we crashed. No English speaking doctors here though, so I guess we've got to go to a bigger town, which is Ho Chi Minh City in this case.

To complicate things even further, at the time Shannon's in Vietnam, COVID is starting to ramp up. So finding someone at the moment who's even going to see Shannon in this state becomes really tricky.

Shannon Strong: the shutdown wasn't happening for maybe another month, but we were in that time so, Every hospital I went to as well, there was everyone was in masks and it was just very chaotic.

Shannon Strong: So sometimes I'm walking up and they're just like, yeah, no, I don't know how to help you. Um, Then I'd just get back on the bike and try another one and just see what would happen.

So, here's the situation. We're now riding a motorcycle around a foreign country with half of our fingers hanging sideways.

It's probably enough to make all but the coolest and calmest and most collected [00:14:00] people freak out a little bit. And Shannon's starting to have those intrusive thoughts as well.

Shannon Strong: Is this gonna work out? Am I just gonna have to go home from here?

Shannon Strong: How am I gonna, you know, carry my packs and things like that.

So what are you going to do in this situation?

Thank goodness, Shannon's finally found a hospital with the magical combination of having a doctor that speaks English and who is also willing to treat her. And now after she's patched up, she's able to see the situation a little bit differently.

Shannon Strong: More than anything after searching for those hospitals and finally finding the one, and, you know, going through all of this, I was like, you know, I'm not gonna let this stop me.

Shannon Strong: I think I can still do this.

And after a little bit of time to think, Shannon actually went on to find that although it was inconvenient, even her injury is not actually a deal breaker

Shannon Strong: It changes things. But it also led to so many people asking me about my hand that I made so many friends, so don't regret anybody. My fingers are okay today. So yeah, it was just a mishap that happened and that happens when you travel. [00:15:00] But yeah.

Shannon Strong: I definitely had to take it easier on. , excursions and things like that. Like I wasn't going to just go for some crazy hike where there might be like climbing and things like that. Which there was still some like waterfalls I wanted to do. And so I got my hand unc casted cause they first casted it so that I could just wrap it instead and brace it.

Shannon Strong: So that also gave me more accessibility to do things. And so I'd just have to wrap it when I was going to waterfalls or I was no longer driving a motorbike that ended for me.

Surprisingly, though, the injury actually changed Shannon's outlook on the whole trip, and gave her some positives.

Shannon Strong: It slowed me down as well. And I think I kind of needed that in that moment where I was traveling kind of fast and going from hostile to hostile here and there. And then it was like, okay, I don't need to. Go in like three days. I can spend a week somewhere and just hang out and enjoy that and meet people and not have to be all over the place.

Shannon Strong: So that changed the trip for me, but I think that was what I needed ultimately in the end. .

One guy that's faced [00:16:00] his fair share of curveballs during his travels is cycling adventurer and now I'm going to adopt him as our guru on everything travel off the beaten path. And that's my aggressor. In Cycling from Australia to France, you'd expect to come across a few unexpected situations, and so has Mark.

From almost getting robbed twice, to appearing on Pakistani TV, Mark's done it all, and he's got some great advice for putting emergency safeguards in place so that if things do go wrong, you're able to stay on top of it. In Flick's case, when she was stuck at Tokyo airport...

She was lucky enough to have money socked away to pay for that last minute taxi from the airport. And Mark says that's a great idea if you do have money you can use, but you've actually got to make sure you can use it.

Mark Gresser: there's so much reliance on technology and on your phones in terms of being able to access things like bank accounts or any accounts really. For example, there's, two factor authentication built into a lot of things. And it can make life difficult when you're overseas, [00:17:00] especially if you've got things set up where say I've got an Australian phone number, mobile phone number.

Mark Gresser: If I'm overseas and that number isn't working and I have banking apps or any other type of account that wants to use the two-factor authentication and send a code or something to my mobile number that's tied to the account, you run into trouble because you can't do that.

Mark Gresser: I make sure that I've set someone else up as someone who can talk to the bank on my behalf. Because I can send an email home to say my mom and say, look, can you call the bank and get this done?

Mark Gresser: And she can, because I've You know, the authority has been set up.

For Shannon's case, when she had that motorcycle crash, it's making sure your health is looked after on holiday. Especially if you're in a foreign country where the health system may not work the same as it does when you're back home. That might mean making sure you've got travel insurance before you go.

Mark Gresser: I essentially see travel insurance as a health insurance. I'm not so concerned about protecting, you know, the stuff I have with [00:18:00] me. It's more about my health and wellbeing.

But Mark reckons you also might not need travel insurance. It pays to check.

Mark Gresser: credit card offers you might even get a particular credit card if it includes insurance. So that means that you can save spending money on additional insurance.

Mark Gresser: There are some countries where essentially I've traveled to without any travel insurance, and that's because I know that there is a, something called a reciprocal healthcare agreement between Australia and that country whereby you essentially get free healthcare if something goes wrong.

Mark Gresser: So Italy, for example, I know I can travel to Italy. If something really bad happens, I will get cared for and not have to pay a cent. And it's the same for Italians traveling to Australia. You know, you can skimp on travel insurance

Mark Gresser: My, my brother had a base jumping accident in northern Italy and had full helicopter rescue off the side of a mountain because he smashed up his legs and he'd a plane came home and there's been no [00:19:00] financial repercussions because of this reciprocal healthcare agreement.

But overall, Mark says you shouldn't be too paranoid to do pre holiday doomsday prepping. It's likely you've got problems that you face in your everyday life already, and honestly, it's not that different to when you're away.

Mark Gresser: You'll have different types of challenges at home, but. I don't think it's something that anyone should allow themselves to be put off by When thinking about travel there's always ways to work through things overseas. You know, there's always people around. If you don't have the gear you need, you just go to a shop overseas.

Mark Gresser: You don't have to have everything worked out before you go. You can just take it as it comes.

Back in episode one, you might remember that we spoke to my number one source of travel wisdom. My mum. During our conversation, we both kind of agreed That with many of the curveballs you find when you're traveling, the thing that really stops them from ruining your holiday is you.

It's taking that attitude, going in, expecting things to go wrong, but having your safety nets in place and enough [00:20:00] confidence to know that you'll sort things out eventually.

Chris: it's a marathon. Or at least a 24 hour sort of physical and mental puzzle. Quite often, especially if you go to a place that doesn't speak English and it takes you five minutes to read every sign and all that sort of stuff. It is exhausting, and you are not gonna be at your best every single minute of every single day.

Chris: And you need to give yourself, firstly, time to rest, but also a safety net to know that I'm gonna have some pretty large brain farts

Liz Plumridge: that's right.

Chris: Walking in Monaco and finding that my wallet was gone to go and explain to the Monas police that I'd lost my wallet.

Chris: That will happen. And part of that makes the adventure.

Liz Plumridge: That's where you have to switch into that attitude of, okay, how do I cope with this? Whether it's you know, your mobile phone's gone or your wallet's gone, like you found whether your car's broken down, whether things aren't coming together the way you [00:21:00] thought they were, whether you missing an interconnecting flight. All of those kind of challenges, as you say, a magnified so much because you are in a place that you don't know.

Liz Plumridge: You don't know where the local police is. We were in, Scotland of all places,

Liz Plumridge: we jumped in the car and we drove into the middle of Edinburgh and we came out afterwards and we got to the car and the, you know, distinct feeling of dread when you look at your car and the side window is broken.

Liz Plumridge: So I lost my good jacket, my travel jacket, and we also lost our tent, which was part of our accommodation. You know, it's a challenge. What do we do now? and we kind of stood there just looking at each other like where do we go? What do we do?

Liz Plumridge: And I think it's that moment when you're traveling where you think, oh, what have I got myself into? Or why am I here?

Liz Plumridge: And as it turned out, Duncan, [00:22:00] the lovely Scottish policeman, came wandering up the street and he said, oh no, in his broad Scottish action, what do we have here? And I think he was more upset than we were. that there was two Australian girls stranded in his town, and that someone had stolen their things and broken their car. But that's the challenges you face when you travel. And I guess it can get back to being prepared, running your mind through what will I do in those situations?

Liz Plumridge: Mm-hmm. ,, there's a lot more options with your phones,

Liz Plumridge: You were able to put a stop on your cards straight away, weren't you? I

Chris: I was, and that's not even, to bring back the fact that I ended up breaking the screen of my phone as well, halfway down an ALP in, in Switzerland.

Chris: That was an ill-advised trip down the mountain on this sort of three-wheeled trike thing that the man assured me [00:23:00] would be perfectly safe.

Chris: Yeah, he He did. I think as well, part of getting through those moments is firstly knowing that no matter the importance of a particular item generally speaking, when it comes to anything you do in life, there is always another way.

Chris: You know, yes, I didn't have my phone, but the visitor center has free computers so I can at least go and when Kate doesn't hear from me for 48 hours, she doesn't think I've fallen into a glacier. Okay. That's the first thing to do. And then I think the other thing is as well, you have to think, how do the locals manage in that situation? Clearly they do. And yeah, sure enough, clearly there is a place in the city where you can go and get your phone fixed and Sure the guy might not speak English and I might not speak German, but if I hand him a phone with a broken screen on it, it's not that hard. You know, you're not gonna come in and ask him for a piece of toast, don't you? Like, you're gonna go in and he's gonna guess what you want. Like if somebody steals your tent, what do [00:24:00] you do? You go to the supermarket or you go to the outdoor shop.

Liz Plumridge: Exactly.

The one final thing that my mum and I talked about was how we would beautifully segue into talking about the topic of the next episode. That's a lie actually, it just came up, but this is too perfect to be an accident.

Liz Plumridge: It's a matter of embracing those around you that can help you out at that time. I think. And you know, Duncan, the policeman was out our little savior as he came along. It's connecting with people again, though, even in those down times, that can actually help you connect with the people even further. If everything goes swimmingly well then, you know, you won't chatter or talk or ask the person at the bus stop, does this bus take me to X, Y, or Z? You'll just stay within yourself. And if you just stay within yourself, you're not growing, you're not developing, you're not learning, you're not listening.

Liz Plumridge: You're just staying in that little pod [00:25:00] of just being yourself.

Chris: May as well stay home.

Liz Plumridge: May as well.

So before I go, let's hear another piece of advice that someone else has given one of our travellers. This time, let's bring Shannon back from while we travel to share the piece of advice that has impacted her the most that somebody else gave her.

Shannon Strong: I actually think because I have the podcast and I've been talking to people a lot lately I'll give credit words. It's to this wonderful gal named Megan, who she goes by Megan, the traveling writer on Instagram.

Shannon Strong: But she was talking about fear and I loved this whole perspective on it because she was saying how some of the best things that have ever happened to her are, is when she felt the most fear and. It's so easy to get excited about something, but then as it's like getting closer, you start to feel so much fear about it.

Shannon Strong: And it's not like it, it's a hard balance because sometimes there's like truly internal like gut, like no, like your gut is telling you no, and you have to listen to that. But like just general [00:26:00] fears are so natural and we so often shy away from that. But instead, that's the stuff we should really go towards and really embrace that change.

Shannon Strong: And then, You never know what's on the other side of that. So when traveling, I feel like taking the leap to travel or just like an experience when traveling, or even if it's just like you're scared to talk to the person that you see, you know, sitting across from you. It's just like when that fear is there, like something beautiful might come from it.

Shannon Strong: And

Next time on Check In and Check Out. Many of us would have been taught the phrase stranger danger when we were young. Don't talk to people you don't know. It's a terrible idea. They could be a serial killer for all you know. Well, I guess nobody told our travelers.

Evan Leal: don't be hesitant to talk to the people around you.

Mark Gresser: I had stayed in their home with their family

Kate Minotti: it's taken away that stigma of stranger danger for me

Bella Molloy: I can vividly remember a five minute body language hand sign conversation

It's time to share [00:27:00] stories about the wonderful people we meet on our travels. Next time on Check In and Check Out. Check In and Check Out was produced on the traditional lands of the Boon Wurrung people. We pay respects to them, their elders, and the other Indigenous peoples from the lands where this podcast was produced.

This podcast was written and hosted by me, Chris Plumridge, with production by JetStreamer. If you need your podcast sounding as good as this one, visit jetstreamer. com. au for podcast help, big and small. This episode featured my friend Felicity. Thanks Flick for taking me out for Japanese food while I bothered you with questions.

It also featured Rob from the Innsiders, Shannon from Why We Travel, Mark Gresser, who is at budgie underscore escapee on Insta, and of course, my mom, Liz. A huge thank you to all of our guests for contributing to this episode. Find out more about where to find them all in the show notes. Leave me a review on your favorite website, please.

It really does help make the show better, it spreads the word, and I'd love to hear your feedback [00:28:00] on whether you're liking these episodes or not, because I can change stuff up. But for now, we are boarding passengers seated in rows A through J, and we'll see you next episode.

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