Travel Disasters Happen. Our New Columnist Is Here to Help.

So when Amy Virshup, The Times’s Travel editor, approached me about the idea of an advice column fueled by actual readers’ actual experiences, the opportunity felt like a natural fit.

“People always have travel disasters,” she wrote. “There’s always sweet vindication in someone’s getting reparations.”

She’s right. Just ask the woman featured in our first Tripped Up column, who arrived, with three kids in tow, to a nonexistent hotel in Cartagena. Or another woman, whose story we will publish in a future column, who got little recourse, and lost the full value of her plane ticket, after missing her flight because of circumstances beyond her control. (Or, heck, even Sebastian Modak, The Times’s 52 Places Traveler, who watched his plane leave without him in Brazil.)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the first batch of the reader disasters that will form the basis for Tripped Up, it’s that every vacation begins in earnest. No one reserves a hotel expecting it to not be there. Organizing travel is an optimistic pursuit; we’re confident that whatever we’re arranging — whether it’s an airport transfer, a corner hotel suite with water views or even a Disney cruise — will materialize. But more important, we’re hoping that our decisions translate into gratifying, memorable experiences.

And if there’s another thing I’ve learned, it’s that my Sicily disaster — essentially a series of minor inconveniences — barely ranks. My son giggled his way through the breakfast buffet, seemingly at peace with the idea of eating mediocre bread and unripe fruit in Italy, of all places. Everyone’s bank account was intact; all limbs and digits were safe. In the end, we have “Sicily’s worst hotel,” as I later described it to my husband, as an inside joke. As with anything, perspective is key.

In Tripped Up, I hope to empower Times readers with the tools and insight to become smarter, happier travelers, wherever you’re headed next. I encourage you to share your stories: [email protected].


Follow the @ReaderCenter on Twitter for more coverage highlighting your perspectives and experiences and for insight into how we work.

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