Travel can be unpredictable — here’s how to cope

travel can be unpredictabel

Travel can be unpredictable. At least that’s what Socrates Anastasiadis will tell you when you ask him about his recent Vantage River cruise from Basel to Amsterdam.

When he arrived in Switzerland, the cruise line dropped some bad news on him: Because of low water levels on the Rhine, part of his cruise had turned into a bus tour.

If you’re traveling somewhere this summer, there’s a strong chance that you’ll also experience the wonderful unpredictability of travel. From low water on the Rhine to high temperatures that could ground your flight, you never know what Mother Nature or Lady Luck will throw at you.

The key to overcoming unpredictability? The right attitude, a little research — and an airtight travel insurance policy.

“Unknowables are something that we have to confront,” says Ory Owen, the business operations manager for Zaloo’s Canoes, an outdoor adventure company based on the New River in the mountains of North Carolina. This year, they have included electrical storms that make river conditions unsafe, water that is too high and moving too fast and a rabid beaver terrorizing the river.

No joke.

“The beaver prevented us from operating for a few days,” Owen says.

Anastasiadis, a retired financial adviser from Chino Hills, Calif., says he didn’t mind the detour. “People complain about their cruise turning into a bus tour,” he says. “Well, excuse me, but when you’re on a river cruise, daily sightseeing involves getting on a bus. You eat and sleep on the riverboat. Yes, it’s more romantic being on a boat and going port to port along the river — but the bus ride is unavoidable.”

Even so, Vantage sent him an apology and offered him a $1,200 credit for an upcoming cruise. It’s a welcome contrast to travel companies that are too quick to invoke the “act of God” excuse to leave their customers high and dry.

Travel can be unpredictable, so attitude counts

Anastasiadis makes an important point, generally reserved for the end of stories like this: Attitude counts. If you fly to Europe this month expecting hot summer weather, for example, you might be disappointed. If you can’t pack a positive attitude, then at least bring an extra sweatshirt, because as someone who lived in Europe for almost two decades, I can tell you summers are sometimes downright frigid.

You can avoid surprises by doing your homework when you plan your trip. That’s what Linda Anderson, a retired saleswoman from Ellington, Conn., does. She checks the site Strike Informer to find out if any work stoppages could affect her trip. Another favorite resource is online newspapers for the country she’s about to visit.

“There is at least one site that has the news in English,” she says. “I start reading usually two to three months before my trip. You not only find out about strikes, weather, civil unrest but also about the newest exhibits, museum openings and closings, concerts, restaurant reviews and other helpful information.”

Find a good travel advisor

Because travel can be unpredictable, travel agent can help, too. Knowledgeable professionals are trained to do things vacationers typically don’t, such as monitoring the financial health of tour companies and keeping abreast of health risks at their customers’ destinations.

“There are sooo many things that can go wrong with any trip,” says Mary Emanuel, the owner of Premier Group Travel, a travel agency based in Mount Dora, Fla.

But there are ways to manage the randomness of travel. Choosing a tour operator or cruise line carefully tops the list. For example, if you book a cruise with Emerald Waterways, it comes with a river cruise guarantee at no extra cost.

“If they can’t sail due to high or low water, Emerald offers the traveler a few options,” says Nish Patel, president of Mayflower Cruises and Tours, which has the same parent company, Scenic Group. “You can either fly home and get a refund or stay on the ship and get a prorated refund based on the number of segments we have to do via a motor coach.”

Consider a travel insurance policy

Travel insurance is another way to protect your vacation against life’s vagaries. Burnham Arlidge, a senior editor of, a guide to adventure cruises, advises shopping for a policy carefully. A standard travel insurance policy doesn’t cover every type of vacation. If you’re going on a cruise, for example, be sure to let your travel insurer know. “They will give you an updated — and often more expensive — policy that covers you,” he says.

Insurance is particularly important when it comes to weather delays. Study your policy carefully to make sure trip delays and cancellations are covered, otherwise you may find yourself high and dry after a storm. Also, check to make sure that shore excursions are covered. Often, they aren’t.

There are other limits, says Anna Ransom, owner of Destination Yours Travel, a travel agency in Las Cruces, N.M. “Many travel insurances won’t pay for the difference between a bus tour and a river cruise in case of drought,” she says.

Instead of leaning too heavily on insurance, which is helpful in some but not all circumstances, Ransom prepares her clients for what could happen. You know, the whole attitude thing.

“My goal with river cruises is to prepare my clients to be flexible,” she says. “Having a good sense of humor about the things you can’t change makes them much more bearable — plus they make great stories to tell your friends at home. If having to do a portion by land is really a hardship then a river cruise might not be the best option.”

That’s good advice for any summer trip.

Posted in The Navigator Tagged , , , , ,

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Global Rescue

Global Rescue is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services. Founded in 2004, Global Rescue has exclusive relationships with the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations and Elite Medical Group. Global Rescue provides best-in-class services that identify, monitor and respond to client medical and security crises. Learn more about Global Rescue.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

%d bloggers like this: