You have saved up money and vacation time; spent hours and hours researching and planning; you finally get to your destination and it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. I’m not talking about travel emergencies like getting your passport stolen, being hospitalized, or flight issues. Those need a different tactic although staying calm and being prepared are still important.
You get bad service, bad food, bad fellow travelers. I want to talk about how you can rescue a bad trip without becoming an asshole yourself or defeated and resentful.
On our resent trip to the Big Island, we had an extraordinarily bad experience at a luxury resort. Days of it! It was the portion of our trip where we planned on being relaxed and pampered and it was just the opposite. We were totally ignored and it started minutes after our arrival and continued for two days. There is nothing worse that being invisible and it was demoralizing. I want to tell you how I dealt with it so that hopefully, if it happens to you, you can come out on the other side with your dignity intact.
Complain quietly and not in front of other guests if possible. Negative energy is infectious and won’t necessarily get you a better result. Don’t make a problem worse by becoming another problem. You may think if you are loud, the staff will work harder to shut you up, thus making the problem go away faster. That may very well be, but how do you feel when you lose control and become a spectacle? I don’t feel good after I’ve lost control and I don’t say very effective things when I’m upset. Name-calling and cursing put the other party on the defensive and they are less likely to really hear you. If you feel too emotional, step away and compose yourself. The morning I decided to confront the staff, I took a long walk and smiled and said “Aloha” to everyone I met. It calmed me down and filled my reserves. I found the words I needed to be effective and not ramble. It’s not your fellow patron's problem that you have an issue. The person next to you may be on their honeymoon or just having a great time. Why should you ruin that for them? They say misery loves company. I certainly don’t. I would feel terrible if I knew I was the black spot in someone’s otherwise wonderful trip.
Speak up! Don’t sit in misery and just take it. Don’t wait until you get home and put it on Trip Advisor or Yelp. Most resorts want to know if you aren’t happy and are more than glad to help remedy the situation. BUT, tell someone who can actually help you. Don’t openly complain to people who are in no position to change the situation. That points back to complaining to fellow guests. They can’t help you. If you aren’t sure who to talk to, ask. “I’m having a problem with _____. Whom should I talk to?” If it’s food, talk to your server. If it’s a hotel issue, talk to the front desk and they can forward you on to the proper ears.
Let hotel staff deal with fellow guests. That’s not your job, it’s theirs’. If your problem is with a fellow guest (loud hotel neighbors, the over-served) don’t confront them yourself. If needed, offer to move to another area. I know that sounds unfair, but trust me; the best way to deal with an asshole is to remove yourself from the asshole. Admit it, some people are just assholes. Just move to a peaceful corner. By helping the staff deal with it (again, not becoming a problem yourself) you may get a free dessert, drink, or a better room.
Don’t ruminate over it. Once it’s done and you have made your complaints known, move on. Put it behind you. If you have to avoid a certain area to get past it, do. Our bad experience was with the pool staff and the pool bar staff. Our plan was to avoid it and travel to another beach to relax by the water. It really wouldn’t have bothered me at all to do that. I was willing to take the loss of convenience to save my sanity. As it turns out, the manager offered a beach hut for the day and free food and everyone was on their best behavior. It didn’t totally make up for the lost days, but I was willing to except the apology and his offer to make it up to us. There is always something good to focus on. Choose to do that and don’t perpetuate the bad.
Travel is just like life, you have good days and bad days. It’s a bummer when a trip you have anticipated for a long time turns ugly. The key is to not make it worse. I don’t think I’ll be on my deathbed and say, “I wish I had been meaner.” I travel a lot so I’ve been through just about everything and I’m still here and still traveling. It stings when you pay good money to be treated poorly. The most important thing you can do is to let someone know as soon as possible and let them try to make it up to you. If they don’t resolve the issue to your satisfaction, then go to the review sites to save someone else from that experience.