How To Avoid Getting Stranded

22 09 2008

“If it’s a desert island, why wasn’t he called ‘Man Sundae?”  (Cape Tribulation, Queensland, Australia) 

For most of my life I rather fancied being stranded on a sun-drenched white sand desert island, but only if it included a few umbrella’d drinks, a bountiful supply of food, a comfortable bed, a fan wallah and a way to get home whenever I became bored. Realistically, it’s not likely to happen unless my private yacht runs aground on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island just after he’s re-stocked and left for several months abroad.


However, the possibility of becoming stranded overseas is a real one on the rare occasion when airlines or tour operators become bankrupt. And unlike Man Friday and Benn Gunn, there’s little romantic about it when it happens to you even if it’s in some idyllic bliss.


Although you can not be 100% safe, there certainly are precautions you can take to minimise the chances of being a modern-day Robinson Crusoe…except without the straw hat and talking volleyball.


1)     Perform a little due-diligence into your airline or tour operator. A quick internet search should find out the organisation’s background and basics of its financial or labour situation. A search for news stories should give you a hint if something’s not right.


2)     Book through a travel agency. Not only are travel agencies covered by government-mandated travel compensation funds in many places, but people in the industry have an ear to the ground and often hear about financial problems or instability before anything makes it to the press or the public. In addition, your travel agent can assist you to re-book your trip or to get you home in the quickest and most economical manner if the worst happens.


3)     Pay by credit card. Most credit card companies will still refund your payment if a company goes bankrupt before you have received your goods or services. If you pay by cash, you don’t have that protection.


4)     Check insurance. Some insurance companies include coverage if your travel provider goes bankrupt before you travel or will assist you if you are stranded away from home. Have your travel agent advise you on any available protection.



Given the hundreds of airlines, charter companies and tour operators throughout the world, bankruptcies are still very rare. However, since vacations are still great luxuries for most of us and something that we work very hard to be able to afford, choose very carefully, and eagerly anticipate, the more we can do to avoid a life experience as trying as Madonna’s “Swept Away”, the better!



Photo and post by:  Simon Vaughan




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