My worst travel experience (so far)

I just came back from what so far is my worst travel experience. It was a city trip to Riga, a beautiful city I would love to visit again. Next time, I would do things differently tho…

In a couple of days, I’m leaving for Botswana for 3 weeks. Three weeks of no internet. Which means I will miss my girlfriend, and she will miss me (I think). For that reason, we booked a trip together before I leave, so we can make sure we had our dose of each other.

We pick a date as close as possible to the trip, we go on TravelBird, and we book our trip. Not a dark cloud in the sky. We are over the moon when we find a nice city trip deal to Riga. Click, paid, booked.

And then shit hits the fan

TravelBird goes bankrupt. They stop completely. In the Netherlands (which also operates in Belgium), they have a commission that takes over the customers and makes sure everyone can go on their trip or get their money back.

I’m in the category that gets a guarantee for their departure. I’m happy with that. I still e-mailed the hotel that was booked for me to be sure. Or the hotel which should have been booked for me.

I explained the situation to them, and they confirmed the messages. TravelBird did go bankrupt and try to book for me. But the booking was refused because of non-payments by TravelBird. A decision of the hotel I can totally understand. They, too, have a business to run. And accepting bookings from non-payers can send them the same way TravelBird went.

Emailing back and forth

I emailed the commission, explaining they haven’t made the booking they guaranteed me. They send me a letter, signed by their CEO that I can show the hotel. I tell them it’s a bit ridiculous since everyone can make a letter like that.

“Yeah, but it has the signature of our boss!”

Fine, I’ll send it to the hotel. The receptionist’s reply was, “We can’t accept this letter as a form of payment as anyone can have written this letter. I couldn’t agree more.

A lot of e-mails go back and forth from me to the commission. I’m claiming I want to have my money back. They claim that’s not possible. I claim they make the booking that I will pay for myself and reclaim the money with them. They can’t guarantee it anymore and tell me I can get my money back if I want.

I’m flabbergasted by this change of decisions, and by then, it was only a day before departure. I wanted to visit Riga; the money-back thing came too late. I told them that.

Actually, I started my e-mail with: That’s the most friendly ‘Fuck You’ I’ve ever received.”

I don’t get mad easily, but don’t push my buttons by going back on your word.

I’m coming on my own terms

A day in advance, I emailed the hotel again to let them know I was coming and would pay for the room myself. I want to be sure I will arrive somewhere and have a room.

Of course, I only book the room. I will have to reclaim the money afterward, so the extra things like cocktails I booked on TravelBird aren’t in my package. The hotel asks for an extra 40 euros for it, but I’m still unsure if I will see that money back. So I skip it.

Upon arrival at the hotel, I notice it’s a nice hotel. Or at least, the reception is nice. In the room, I notice it’s a bit outdated. TravelBird lured me with the four-star hotel thingy but little did I know that didn’t have to mean anything.

The window of my room only has one-half of the curtains. Luckily we are on the top floor, and no one can look inside. But still.

The furniture is old, which isn’t a drama. But I expected more of all of it.

There are two beds for us. Two single beds. As you might know, I hate that stuff!

On the second day, after our long day visiting the beautiful city of Riga, we arrive back at the hotel to find our door is still open. Housekeeping left it open when cleaning the room. Or yeah, the door sucks. But they should know. Lucky for us, nothing is gone.

Except for our towels. Housekeeping did take the old ones with them. But never replaced them. So I needed to go downstairs to ask for towels at the overcrowded receptionist. He was there alone, helping three families check-in and bring my towels upstairs—poor him.

On the way back home, my RyanAir flight had the most turbulence I ever experienced. Which didn’t help to make me feel good either? But hey, that’s life—end of rant.

What was your worst travel experience so far? Let me know in the comments!

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