Frequent travelers know that trip delays can happen at any time. An unexpected storm, a mechanical failure or a scheduling problem can rearrange your long-awaited trip. As frustrating as these moments are, you can turn any delay into a memorable mini-adventure with a little creativity and a positive attitude. As G.K. Chesterton famously said, “An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”
Here are a few tips for making the most of a trip delay or cancellation!
Be kind to your gate agent
The gate agents are not trying to ruin your trip. Most cancellations are made with your safety in mind. If you notice other passengers giving the gate agent a hard time, take the opportunity to extend a little extra kindness.
Make any needed arrangements
As soon as you know a delay is going to happen, start making all of your important phone calls. If you’ve made arrangements to be picked up at your destination, notify your contacts of your new arrival time. If your flight is canceled completely, make sure the airline gives you a new confirmation for the next available flight. Find out if they will be offering you any compensation for the inconvenience. If you need help, don’t forget to reach out to your travel agent!
Figure out if you have trip delay coverage
If you purchased a good travel insurance policy, it may have provisions for a trip delay. You will typically need to save all meal, hotel and ground transportation receipts to send in with your claim documents later on. The underwriter will often need a copy of your trip itinerary and any documentation regarding the reason for the delay.
Take a tour of the city
Many large cities offer free city tour services for travelers with long layovers. You will need to figure out the requirements for a transit visa, which vary from country to country. If a tour is not available, find a fun restaurant to try or a nearby museum to explore on your own. Build in plenty of time to get back to the airport and go through security again.
Enjoy the airport
Most major airports have so much more to offer than food and shopping! Get a massage, a haircut or sneak in a quick workout at an airport gym. Strike up a conversation with a stranger and learn something new. If you’re stuck at the airport with a group, make a funny video or play a giant game of hide-and-go-seek. Just try to avoid ending up in places you shouldn’t be or looking suspicious!
Sit back and relax
If you’re accustomed to a fast-paced schedule, it can be hard to allow yourself the freedom to just sit and kick back a little. If a sudden travel delay has you on edge of a nervous breakdown, a little down time might be exactly what you need! Find a quiet café (in or outside the airport) and do some people watching, journaling or reading. Watch the planes take off from an observation deck. Turn off your phone and enjoy a slow meal with your travel companions.