Lost in Transit: How to Avoid and Prepare for Travel Disasters

When travelling on a fishing trip abroad, we all like to think of the positives like hooking up to monstrous speedsters of the deep, big and fast boats to fish on, great views and great fishing photos and ice cold beers at the end of the day. But what about when things go wrong before, during, or after travelling? Natural disasters, missing luggage, cancelled or missed flights, health issues, civil unrest, and riots are just some of the things that can go wrong on any given trip. These situations happen unpredictably but it’s better to be prepared than do nothing about them.

Here are six travel disasters that can happen to you and how to avoid or prepare for the worst.

1 Natural Disasters

There isn’t much we can do to avoid a natural disaster, and as anglers, we know there is no stopping Mother Nature when she decides to show her fangs. But, there are some ways to prepare ourselves just in case a planned fishing destination gets affected by a natural disaster.

I’ve told my guests this time and again – purchase travel insurance. Yes, it may cost you more money but if any of the disasters listed above occurs, you’d be happy you have it.

Different policies offer varying degrees of coverage and costs are different for all. Some pricier policies cover everything from emergency evacuation to lost or stolen luggage and even trip cancellations! Finding the perfect policy takes some time and effort but all the hard work pays off in an event of a natural disaster.

2 Lost or Stolen Luggage

Yeah, I consider this the worst thing that can happen to us fishos. All the time spent saving money to purchase your dream fishing gear, preparing fishing rigs, spooling up fresh braid, putting on brand new 5/0 GT hooks, packing, weighing and re-packing. Done all the work and your bag just finds itself somewhere in Scandinavia. It happens, a lot, but bags don’t always land in Scandinavia, don’t worry, but I digress. Lost luggage is a common occurrence in the air travel world so it is best to assume that your bags will get lost anyway.

Take detailed documentation of the contents of your bags and fishinf rod tubes. Taking photos of the contents for your detailed inventory is even better. Then take a photo of the bag itself. Hard task but if you’re an OCD type who kept all the receipts, good for ya! Attach all receipts to your inventory and keep this on your carry-on. They’ll serve their purpose when your bags are lost or stolen.

If you land and find your bags on the conveyor immediately, celebrate with a cold beer straight away. If you’ve been waiting for two hours and find no love from the conveyor, head towards the lost luggage counter and file a claim. Being calm and polite will help ease you through this process albeit we know how hard to keep your cool in the airport is. They should be able to locate your bag easily with the tracking stickers on it, along with the help of your photos. Hopefully you get your bags in time for your connecting flight or the trip. If not, you should have made the most of your 7kg carry-on. Maximize and use all 7kg by packing in spare clothes and important documents. If you’ve booked with Ocean Blue Fishing, you’ll still get to fish as we have great fishing gears available to use.

Stolen or lost luggage is a kick up the ass for sure and the airlines will probably reimburse your checked baggage fees and possibly offer you a discounted flight but that’s about all they can do. If you’ve done yourself a solid and purchased an insurance policy that covers lost or stolen luggage, give yourself a pat on the back. Although they are a hassle to deal with and getting reimbursed requires some buddhist monk level patience, the insurance company will most likely reimburse you up to the declared amount when you bought your policy. Insurances have their limits though and most situations your Stella 14000xg won’t get reimbursed the full amount, but still worth having all your gear covered including electronics like cameras. Remember the receipts and photos you kept as documentation as they are pretty much gold in this situation.


3 Missed or Cancelled Flights

Best piece of advice I can give to avoid missing your flights is to not be an idiot. A bit forward but that’s all it takes to make your flights. The pain and hassle you go through, rescheduling connecting flights, missed meetings, missed trips, etc., could’ve been avoided.

Always have a backup alarm setup on your phone, or even get the hotel staff to sort out a wakeup call. Give them clear instructions that they are allowed to bang on your door until you wake up.

Most fishing folks like us like to be super early and wait, instead of rushing and feeling anxious the whole time on the way to the airport. Being early also allows you to catch up on some work, maybe send that last minute email, respond to emails you’ve missed, edit photos of the trip preparing them for your Instagram feed. There’s just no excuse to being late.

Cancelled flights are another story. You may be the earliest in the world but if your flight gets cancelled due to some operational issues or if it’s their fault, be calm and polite as the airline staff will sort it out. No available alternative flights? You’ll get accommodation covered as well to catch the following day’s flights.

Worst case scenario, your airline states in their fine print that any act of God is out of their scope of responsibility. Back to your travel insurance policy. Usually they cover cancelled flights to a certain limit. Getting something is better than nothing.

4 Lost Passport

This happens, guys. It truly does. Had some mates fall asleep while waiting for their boarding call, then after getting on board realized that they left their passports at the departures lounge seats. Takes a wild night if alcohol induced activities to misplace your wallet and passport. Be smart and keep copies of your passport and other identification on your person at all times.

Worse, you might not lose your passport but it might get stolen along with other stuff you have with you. There are two trains of thought here. Some bring their passports with them at all times, but risk getting it stolen when mugged. Others entrust their passports to the hotel concierge or keep them in their room’s safe, but risk leaving it behind.

In an event of a lost passport, get to your embassy and get a replacement sorted out. You’d have to reschedule flights and stuff but…

5 Political Unrest

Doesn’t happen much in fishing island paradises but having seen the latest news happening in Hong Kong, I couldn’t help but provide ways to prevent travel woes if you find yourself in such a situation.

Keep yourself updated through social media. Some may not love the idea of social media but we have to admit that this is becoming the fastest source of news ever. Twitter is my personal favorite and I follow all the world news channels and they constantly update their feed once newsworthy stories come up.

You may have planned your trip months or even years in advance and couldn’t avoid planning around these situations. Yes, travel insurance to the rescue again. Trip cancellations can be covered depending on your policy so it is worth checking out the vast amount of options available.

6 Injuries and Sickness

Getting a common cold or a mild case of diarrhea is alright and won’t be a trip ender, but getting food poisoning, malaria, dengue, or whatever contagious diseases are a real risk. Physical injuries are a real factor as well as fishing can be a dangerous activity most of the time. Big hooks, big thrashing fish, fast boats, big waves and rough weather, even some alcohol involved most times. Basic preventive measures like washing hands regularly, drinking only bottled water can save you from some medical drama but these things are just unpredictable.

Visiting the hospital is not a favorite activity of ours already but getting medical treatment in a remote country can get your anxiety levels to record breaking heights. Paying for treatment out of your pocket can sometimes cost more so make sure you protect yourself with a suitable medical insurance fit for the country you plan to visit.

Major physical injuries happen, and even bad health conditions occur during trips and emergency evacuation may be needed. Getting you out of a remote island location and to the nearest medical unit will surely cost a large amount of money as activating an emergency response unit for this scenario requires a team of experts and truck loads of money. Although an unwanted scenario, it is best to ensure that you have emergency evacuation insurance cover as well.


This may have ended up looking like an insurance sales pitch which I just can’t stand, but in hindsight, getting a good travel insurance policy that covers everything listed above can help reduce the stress of travelling by tons. Chances are that none of these situations will happen to you when travelling. If something does happen, usually common sense can get you out of some situations with minimal drama. But if you do find yourself waist deep in disaster dung, it’s always good to be prepared and to have done some serious homework.

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Lost in Transit: How to Avoid and Prepare for Travel Disasters

John is originally from the Philippines. John has extensive guiding experience throughout Asia and...Learn more

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