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.