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5 real-life holiday horror stories from Singaporeans

“That’s insane. What are the chances of that happening?!”

That’s what we’re all thinking when we read about the nightmarish experiences of travellers all over the world. But if you think the unpredictable will never happen to you, think again. We’re bringing it closer to home with five cautionary tales from Singaporeans who learnt that it’s easier to protect than to react — and our thoughts on each encounter:

1. Straight Out of a TV Show

It happens to stars too! Actress Jeanette Aw, whom you may recognize from iconic local TV series Holland V and The Little Nyonya, was the near-victim of While on a vacation in Madrid, she “felt a slight tug” on her bag and turned around to find a lady attempting to unzip it discreetly. Thanking her lucky stars that her pickpocket wasn’t nimble enough, it was quite fortunate that nothing had been stolen.

Our take: Lucky breaks do occasionally happen, but it’s not a guarantee. Make sure you choose bags that are easier to protect while you’re on holiday. Sling backpacks or money belts work as they can be kept close to your body. You can also sling your bag to the front, so you can always keep an eye on it. If all else fails, ensure you protect yourself with TravelEasy which covers you for up to $750 in situations just like these.

2. Accommodation That’s A Little Too Rustic

Parenting blogger Rachel Pinto, better known as Mummyfique, and her family thought they had scored a good deal on a week-long beach holiday in Langkawi. But things went downhill once they checked in — water from the tap was yellow, the bathtub was dirty and the safe didn’t work. However, the underwhelming resort was just the tip of the iceberg. Rachel’s baby developed a fever and caused a healing bum rash to flare up again.

Our take: Google is your best friend. If possible, read as many online reviews as you can before booking to get a clearer and more realistic picture of your accommodation. If you’re ever in the unfortunate position of having to deal with medical issues while holidaying, make things a little easier for yourself with coverage that lets you claim for overseas medical expenses.

3. Next Stop: Nowhere

For some Singaporeans, the horror story begins before the holiday does. Siti was all set for her first ever visit to South Korea with her mother and sister. The three women had plans to visit Seoul, Busan and Jeju and couldn’t wait — until their travel agency shut down a day before the trip.

S Travel, a travel agency specializing in holidays in South Korea, left 300 customers in the lurch and went bankrupt. The agency has since had its license revoked by Singapore Tourism Board. Siti was incredibly disappointed and worse, had spent over $6,000 on the trip.

Our take: S Travel wasn’t the first travel agency to go bust and it certainly hasn’t been the last, with the recent shuttering of Konsortium Express and Tours. Online research can only get you so far sometimes, if you are not privy to the inner workings of your travel agency. The foolproof way to avoid a situation like Siti’s and still keep your hard-earned holiday money? Opt for a travel insurance policy with travel agency insolvency coverage — with TravelEasy, you get covered for up to $20,000.

4. Ready, Jet Set, Stay

The New Year wasn’t quite as Happy for Abigail Tee who was stranded in an airport for 33 hours. Her flight was originally slated to depart Narita Airport in Tokyo due to “unavoidable delays” by Malaysia Airlines. The delays were attributed to technical issues and external circumstances such as a bird strike.

Unfortunately, a lack of communication and assistance started Abigail’s 2018 on a frustrating note. She noticed that food vouchers or hotel stays were not freely offered, queues were endless and to top it off, her luggage never arrived amidst all the chaos.

Our take: It’s interesting to note that even though Abigail woke up at five in the morning and did all the necessary check-ins, she still wound up embroiled in a travel fiasco. This story is the perfect example of how hiccups don’t just befall the unprepared. Even if you’ve planned and gotten ready, add an extra layer of protection with TravelEasy — it covers you for missed flights and delays for up to $1,000. Bonus tip: opt for a Family plan for maximized savings.

5. A Holiday Gone Up In Smoke

When Mount Agung in Bali erupted in November last year, it spewed a column of ash about 4,000m into the atmosphere. As a result, Ngurah Rai airport had to cancel over 400 flights, leaving 59,000 passengers stranded — 18 of these passengers belonged to one entire Singaporean family, the Alis. The extended family was on their first-ever family vacation and what was meant to be a 5-day getaway turned out to be nearly a full week of anxiety in Indonesia. The family got stranded and ended up overspending by about $9,000.

Our take: The family had opted not to buy travel insurance as “they thought it would be a short trip”. That’s a very common mentality when people go on a quick getaway, and this is a cautionary tale on why that mindset needs to be retired. A lot can happen in a matter of minutes, let alone days. Do ensure you are well-covered, even for short trips. With TravelEasy, you enjoy sufficient coverage on delays and travel disruptions caused by natural disasters.

Find out more about MSIG TravelEasy here — we make every holiday experience a little easier for you, that’s why we’re voted Best Overall Value Travel Insurance by Seedly.

This article was originally published by MSIG Insurance (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.


MSIG Insurance

MSIG Insurance is one of Asia’s leading general insurers, with a solid presence in Singapore for over 100 years. At MSIG, we believe there is a higher purpose and meaning behind what we do. By insuring our customers and the things they hold dear, we give our customers the confidence to do more and be more.