When to fight for stuff and when to let go when I travel

One thing I am reflecting on recently is what makes an awesome travel experience. What I learned is when I travel, most things tend to not go my way. It is a fine balance between letting things go and fighting for what I deserve.

This balance is very different for everyone. But it is very healthy to know your own balance. And where do you lean towards. Are you the type to nearly always let things slide, or are you like me, a fiery soul whose first instinct is to fight for what I deserve?

Over time I tried both sides. And I had hits and misses. What I learned is that things are worth fighting for if they are these types of situations:

1. Unsafe hotel conditions

I remembered booking an aircon room in a B&B in Rome. It turned out to be a portable air conditioning unit which required the window to be open so that the vent is positioned through the window. What made things worse was the electricity tripped every 5 minutes because the building wasn’t capacitized for all aircon units to be turned on at night. We prepaid for 3 nights. I fought for it and checked out after one night and got our money back.

2. I didn’t get what I paid for and the experience between the two options is vastly different

I don’t have to recall too long ago. During our stay in Hue, we booked two beach villas. When we got there, only one was facing the beach. One was facing a villa!!! I told them there is no way I would accept the second one as that is a garden villa and not a beach villa. We got moved to a beach villa. The experience is totally different! Reading a book listening to waves and feeling the cool breeze are only possible with the beach villa!

3, I get shortchanged by being a woman or being Filipino or Asian

Sad to say this still happens. On one of my most recent trips to Bangkok, I was held up because I didn’t keep my boarding pass, while everyone else had already passed immigration. Why would I keep a boarding pass on a flight I already completed? I made a big deal out of it and the supervisor ended up apologizing. I make a big deal out of it because complacency has its implications. It means discriminating against people like me is fine. And they will do it again. What I did will not ensure otherwise, but provides a warning that not everyone will keep quiet.

4. When people lie and promise something they never plan to do

During my stay in Ho Chi Minh I had an argument with the owner. I won’t bore you with the details. But I gave up and told him if it is possible to check out one day earlier and refund the one night. He agreed, almost too easily and too fast. I demanded he write a note which he did. Lo and behold, he went back on his word and only refunded 50%. I scanned the letter to Agoda and they believed me and refunded the total upfront and they will take it up with the owner. These service providers do not deserve to be left alone.

When do I let go?

1. When fighting for it means I lose time on what matters

During my trip to Bolivia, the agent assured me that there are bathrooms and showers in each hostel, and it will only be shared with people within my party of six. Totally untrue. But fighting for it means I have to spend time when I’m in Chile calling them when I am on tour. Totally not worth it.

2. When they’ve done good service recovery and ensured it won’t happen again

During my trip to Chile the local tour operator forgot my private transfer twice. After mentioning it, they immediately made sure to confirm my transfers, gave me a free lunch, the manager called me personally to apologize. Given the situation, I think they did the best they could. I didn’t escalate it further even if it caused me a lot of stress!

3. When fighting for it head on means you’re just “playing the piano in front of a cow” (in Chinese, 對牛彈琴)

When I was in Easter Island, the driver, greeter, and reception staff are very passive aggressive and disrespectful, not to mention inefficient. However, I read in Tripadvisor that the manager is just the same, so there is no point escalating it. I focused my attention on what really matters and let it go. My situation will not change and I will just get even more upset. I just wrote a really bad review in Tripadvisor instead.

4. When the compensation needs to come from the staff’s own pocket

When I realize this means the staff needs to pay for it, as much as I can, I’d rather not. I will try to ask the manager if the hotel or restaurant can shoulder for it, if not, I just let it pass. I do recognize that these people are paid very little. Hopefully they will be more careful next time.

I think it is helpful for me to be conscious of my own balance to make the most of my vacations. This means I am happy with what I fought for and do not care enough for things I let go.

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