What Rights Do Travelers Have?

What Rights Do Travelers Have?

What Rights Do Travelers Have?

What rights do travelers have? Are we protected by anyone? As soon as we step outside of our doors, anything is at stake, and that’s why we do it. We’re curious people, interested in the world, the whole world, and the people who live in it. Often, we are tossed around and made to fend for ourselves almost every step of the way. But, who is there to help us when we fall?

Ever since my saga with CKGS, this has been my thought process. Who do I reach out to to help me? What are my rights? What am I entitled to? This only gets more complex as we enter a country that is not our own. Even so, why are situations like this so hard to deal with even when we’re still at home?

Before the drama with CKGS unleashed, I really hadn’t thought about any of these issues. I had always had an easy time with travel. Sure there were delays, a lost bag, one missed connection due to weather, and not getting to Cambodia as hoped, but these were always issues I could deal with, even if there were disappointments.

I have always traveled with insurance, in case anything went gone wrong, but nothing ever did. Just once, when my connection from Washington DC was missed due to weather, but my friend, Lara, and I took the train home instead, and insurance helped us out later. It was painless compared to what I’m going through now.

By tomorrow, I should be receiving my passport in the mail after finally settling issues with CKGS. I say should because I really won’t believe it until I see it, and my passport is safely back in my hands. Still, my thoughts go out to everyone else. All those people I met last Thursday at CKGS who had trusted the company with the passports of their entire family and had missed their flights. What about the people who didn’t make complaints? Who didn’t e-mail every person they could think of? There’s a possibility that they are still without the documents they need.

Then, what happens when they do get them back? They’ll most likely be where I am right now, still without the answers they need. My first worry was if they had purchased travel insurance, but I learned today, that even if they did, it probably doesn’t matter.

Today, I learned that my travel insurance will not cover the cost of my cancelled flights because passport and visa issues do not fall within their policy. The only cancellations covered by World Nomads are illness and death to the person traveling, the person who they were traveling with, or someone related to the traveler. While those may be the most common reasons for cancelling a flight, they are far from the only reasons. An insurance company that only deals with travelers should be able to recognize that.

I’ve used World Nomads several times in the past, and always recommended them to family and friends, but I’m realizing now that they’ve only been great because I haven’t needed to use them, they’ve only been there for the “What if?”. After this, I will never use them again.

Sure, it’s partially my fault for not reading the policy closely, but even if I did, I would have never foreseen the issue with CKGS. Isn’t the purpose of travel insurance to help us with those unforeseen moments? Apparently it depends on the insurance company that’s used, and after some research, I learned that Travelex has Cancel For Any Reason coverage. Guess who will be getting my business in the future.

Cancellations happen for a variety of reasons that are out of our control. If insurance companies don’t realize this, how are we supposed to get the protection we need?

That flight to India and then on to England for the Mongol Rally cost me a little over one thousand dollars, a relatively good fare for this time of year. However, I had only budgeted enough money for a flight home, along with the usual expenses of a trip. I did not budget enough money to replace that first flight, which is at least an additional thousand dollars, on top of the money I already lost. As a teacher, who doesn’t get paid at all during the summer, I only have the money I saved up, and I won’t get paid again until I’m back to school in September.

At this point, I have no idea how I am going to make this trip happen, and it seems as though there’s no one who is able to help me. Throughout this whole saga, I have reached out to anyone I can think of: members of Congress, consulate offices, the State Department, reporters, the Better Business Bureau, and any one else I thought could help.

But, to be honest, I’m feeling a bit abandoned. Sure, I have the support from friends, family, and even strangers, but I have no idea who to turn to for help and all I can think about is my question from above, what rights do travelers have? I haven’t even covered half of the issues travelers deal with because the list goes on and on. I can only speak from the place I am coming from now, and that is of a place of confusion over all I have gone through over the past few days.

I think what bothers me most, is the fact that the average traveler doesn’t have a voice, and worse than that, they have no one to speak up for them. Luckily, because of this platform, I do. A lot of what we’re put through isn’t fair, but we put up with it anyway, all for the same reason. We adore travel, and it can kick us to the curb, abandon us in the middle of nowhere, lose our luggage, make us sick, and cost us thousands of dollars, but we’ll probably do it again the next time we can because in so many ways, we know it’s all worth it.

But, it’s also why we need someone to protect us. Clearly, travel insurance isn’t the answer, so what is? What rights do we have, and who is there for us in times of need? I’d love an answer to this because right now, I’m feeling helpless.

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Comments (16)

  1. Charles Hayward

    Hi Erin,
    I wish I could offer some kind of helpful answer about what rights we have. Unfortunately, I’m not sure we have any beyond those we think we’re paying for when we buy a ticket or otherwise become a customer of some business — as you’ve found out, we might not even have those.

    I think part of the problem is that travel is too often viewed as a luxury, something to do when you have some extra cash. In short, travel = vacationing. For writers and other people that have found travel to be a necessity, whether for work or for the good of their soul, well, when things go wrong, we’re still lumped in with that “eh, they’re just vacationing” sort of mentality. People don’t tend to care what happens to those they view as privileged.

    If there is anything good to come from this — if — it’s that this is an experience you can write about, that you can share with your readers. That’s a little hokey, but as I’ve been pulled deeper into the worlds of writing and travel, I’m not sure you can look at it any other way.

    Hang in there!

    1. Craig Zabransky

      Charles, I might say, the problem is because travel is viewed as a commodity. (not a luxury). One problem amidst millions of travelers in not a concern for the masses and I wonder if the businesses will really change based on this story… I for one, know who not to use for travel insurance and also what to expect from the visa process to India…. And that is why I agree with you and the best outcome is that people learn and read her saga, and us as travelers ( consumers) can change the system by purchasing honorable services.

      stay adventurous, Craig

      1. Charles Hayward

        Very good point. Commodity would have been a much better word to use.

        1. The World Wanderer

          Thanks, Craig and Charles for reading and for your support. I do feel that the positive here is that I can write about my saga and hopefully help others in the process. It’s been a long run, and honestly, I think I’ll continue this fight long after this battle is over. Seems crazy that we have no rights.

  2. Jeff @ Go Travelzing

    I wish I had an answer for you. Travel companies make it almost impossible to get any help when there is a problem. I rarely buy the insurance just because I think they have so many restrictions that it is impossible to get anything out of them. I will definitely pay more attention to what they cover in the future.

    I had a six month battle with USAir during their last merger and if I was not extremely persistent I would have never gotten anything.

    Keep fighting and hopefully you will get some help.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Jeff. It’s pretty sad if you ask me. We are investing all of our money in travel, and we have to fight for what’s rightfully ours. I’m not happy about this situation, especially because it’s one I would have never have seen coming. I thought that was what travel insurance companies did. Apparently, I was very wrong.

  3. Traveling Ted

    This is not the first time I have heard bad things about World Nomads. I think when people think travel insurance, they think it covers everything that can go wrong during a trip. Upsetting that they do not cover something like this that should be covered.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Really, Ted? I thought they seemed to be so great, and on top of things, until I realized this. Even their e-mails made me angry. I’m so upset that I trusted them with my money, and that they won’t even refund the money I’ve paid for the insurance. If a trip is cancelled, I’m not getting reimbursed AND I have to pay for the insurance I’m no longer using? Something’s seriously wrong here. I’m going to wind up purchasing new travel insurance for my trip now, on top of this one, because I just don’t trust World Nomads anymore. Ridiculous.

  4. Craig Zabransky

    I hope all eventually works out for a successful rally, do let me know where I can donate to the charity (your gas tank) again to receive a postcard and maybe a #Sunsetsunday photo ….

    stay rallying for a cause, Craig

    1. The World Wanderer

      Of course, Craig! Thanks so much for following this drama! 🙂

  5. Lisa

    Wow. What a bummer about the travel insurance. I don’t know if I would have thought of that. I am glad you can give other people the info you have learned, but it sucks this how you had to find out. I am sorry you have to deal with this and lost so much money.

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks, Lisa. This whole entire process has been a big learning experience. If I can help other through it, though, then it will all be worth it. 🙂

  6. lola

    i cannot wait to hear how this works out. so so awful for you to have to go through but boy do you have an important piece of information to now share!

  7. Lance | Trips By Lance

    You’ve opened my eyes to the need for travel insurance, but also to research who I go with. I’ve never used travel insurance and have thought a couple of times that I should have. I’m glad I’ve never needed it. I know it definitely doesn’t help your bank account, but your ordeal eventually will give you experiences to write about.

  8. Francesca (@WorkMomTravels)

    I’m with Lance – I’ve never used travel insurance. I think for the kind of trips you were supposed to take this summer, I’d have opted for insurance, too, and never would have thought that it didn’t cover the ordeal you’ve been through. If anything, this is important information to help keep travelers out of the same unfortunate situation. So sorry about India. I know it’s been a dream of yours. xx

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