On Your Next Holiday, Your Phone Camera can be a Lifesaver!

There are many things that can go wrong with your holiday abroad especially when there are disputes with airlines, hotels, travel insurance and car rental companies. Many of these disputes play out after you return home or when you receive your next credit bill. Your smartphone camera can truly be a lifesaver – just take lots of photos (not just selfies or scenery!).

  • Like many people, I often look for the most economical car rental I can find online and that means having to rent a car from smaller less known companies. Some of them can be quite nasty when you return the car. When there is a dispute about damage to the car, you need proof to argue that it was already there when you picked up the car. Without fail, I always use my cellphone to take lots of pictures of the car – both inside and out – to document the condition of the car during pickup. Do the same when you return the car (and this is especially important if it is unmanned drop-off). Good thing with digital pictures is the time and date that is embedded in each of your photos. Also do not forget to take a picture of the instrument panel documenting the fuel level and odometer when you return the car. Having the “before and after” pictures have saved me hundreds of dollars!
  • If you have travel insurance, I am sure you know how important it is to have all the right documents to file a claim. Since the most common claims are flight and baggage delays, I always use my smartphone to take photos of documentation for my flights starting with my boarding passes and luggage claim tags when I check in. If there is a flight delay, take a picture of the delay notice on the screen because it may not be easy to get some airlines to issue an incident report. If you are reissued new boarding passes, take pictures of the old and new ones (they may take the old ones back). Also if your luggage is lost, take pictures of your luggage report. Make sure you have pictures of the luggage tags on your bags as well as documentation of the date/time when it was returned to you. By taking the photos of all these documents will make filing your claims, if any, much simpler.
  • Hotel rooms can also be a source of dispute. I have had to do battle with customer service of major hotel chains because of issues with the room that cannot be resolved during my stay. My room in a 5-star hotel was so shockingly poorly maintained that one would think it was a 2 or 3 stars hotel. To make matters worse, the reception simply said that “all our rooms are like that” and “we are fully booked”. Armed with the photos, I sent them to the hotel’s central customer service having felt cheated with the sub-standard stay. They refunded my stay with an equivalent amount of loyalty points.

Since it is so easy with a smartphone to make a digital copy of all your travel documents on your smartphone including your airplane tickets, hotel reservations, passports, credit cards, insurance and driver’s license, this should be “standard operating procedure” before starting your holiday. And do that for everyone in your travel party. A few minutes of your time can really be a lifesaver later on if something happens!

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