I’ve had pretty much everything go wrong while traveling. From health issues and car damage to stolen bags and no place to spend the night, I’ve experienced it all. It can feel overwhelming and cast a shadow on the rest of the trip, but don’t let it get you down. 

My good times traveling far outweigh the issues that have arisen. The negatives are usually little blips that feel epic in the moment but in the aftermath aren’t so serious – and many of my travel low points end up as topics of conversation amongst friends. To get you past the hump, here are some tried and tested methods to get back to enjoying your travels. 

One last thing. This advice pertains to frustrating issues like losing your camera or having your wallet stolen or maybe missing a flight or realizing that you never actually booked tonight’s hotel. Experiencing harassment or abuse while traveling should not be something that you need to ‘get over’ and should be reported to authorities.

How to Deal When Things Go Wrong While Traveling


Sit down, take a few deep breathes, and reset before going off on a tizzy. You’re fine. You’ll need your wits about you as you assess how bad the situation really is and what you need to do next.

Damage control

Just how bad is this? Do you need to file a police report? Do you need to go to the hospital? Do you need to find wifi immediately to research your options? Consider finding a tourism office or expat spot where you can get some advice, or even head back to your Airbnb to make necessary phone calls or do some research online.

Figure out next steps 

When things go wrong while traveling, it can spur uncontrollable panic making it difficult to make decisions. Try to keep a clear head and think about what you need to do in the short term. Do you need to adjust your travel plans? Do you need to contact your insurance company? Should you cancel your credit cards? Your considerations will differ based on the issue you’re experiencing, but it’s helpful in any stressful situation to make a list of things that you’ll need to do to move forward. 

Have a freak out, then let it go

Yeah, it really sucks. Allow yourself a well deserved temper tantrum if you need it, but after that let it go. Don’t dwell on it and don’t let it ruin your entire trip, it’s not worth it. 

Be friendly 

It’s easy to be angry at other people when things go wrong. Whether that’s your travel buddy or someone whom you’re reporting the issue to, try not to take your frustrations out on them. Say you arrive at your hotel and they have no record of your reservation and are fully booked. Try to keep calm and treat the person you’re interacting with, who likely isn’t at fault and is in the best position to help you out, with respect. 

Be grateful

Experiencing an issue while abroad can make you feel vulnerable and powerless, but try to think of the big picture. If it’s not a life or death situation and is something that can be rectified, then relax. Reflect on how lucky you are that you even get to travel, that you even get to have these experiences. If the worst thing happening to you at the moment is losing your luggage or mixing up your flight dates, life really isn’t too bad. 

Be prepared in advance 

As much as possible, think about what could go wrong and implement preventative measures. Keep electronic copies of your passport, have important contact information on hand, backup everything (including photos) often, and conduct preliminary research on common scams and areas to avoid along your travels. This is even more critical if you’re traveling solo.

Don’t travel without insurance

This is a non-negotiable for me and it should be for you. We have this feeling that we’re invincible and can control things from going wrong, but the truth is you just never know. From a $4,000 bill to fix our car’s bumper in Iceland to a quick hospital visit in the US, insurance has paid for itself time and time again. And we haven’t had it that bad. We’ve loved World Nomads as their policies seem to have travelers in mind and the customer service is top notch. There are so many horror stories of travellers needing to be airlifted home (at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars) or having to cancel their entire trip a few days in because of an issue back home. Bottom line – forgoing insurance isn’t a smart gamble.

How to Deal When Things Go Wrong While Traveling Photo courtesy of Francisco Moreno

Some of the links in this article are for affiliates, though we only advocate for businesses and brands that we know and trust. Affiliate income helps us limit the number of ads on the site while allowing us to continue bringing our readers high quality travel content.