We’re now a week into the XXIII Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. But overshadowing the events are the stories surrounding the Olympic Village. Social media has helped us get in touch with the Olympic Games more and more every year. However, this year it has taken that access to a whole new level.
It all began when international journalists started arriving in Sochi ahead of the opening ceremonies. Unlike what the world was told leading up to the games, these correspondents shared a completely different look across their Twitter accounts. Everything from incomplete hotels to broken restrooms was put on display for the world to see. This was followed by the trials of bobsleder Johnny Quinn, who seems to have a penchant for getting stuck in the most random places. Next, a Canadian journalist got left a note informing him of the charges that come with placing personal effects on the second bed in his room. And this week, veteran NBC host Bob Costas was sidelined for the first time since 1998 as a result of a particularly bad eye infection. All of these combined make the non-expanding snowflake look like a minor hiccup.
So far, it’s been a tumultuous Olympic season. With only a week’s worth of competition under our belt, I’m a little hesitant to ask “what’s coming up next?”
While these games may be remembered for the rather humorous, behind-the-scenes look that we’ve been given through the lens of social media, more important is the lesson that every traveler can learn as a result of these games:
1. Research your accommodations before you book
Just because a hotel is marketed as a “five star resort” — that doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Before you make that non-refundable, pre-paid booking, make sure you do your research. There are many peer-review websites where guests post reviews after their stay, giving you a more objective idea of where and how accommodations rank. If you’re staying in an area with less established hotels or where reviews may not be as available, then your best bet may be sticking with the big name brand hotel chains, as opposed to the lower-priced accommodations that you know little about.
2: Always have a backup plan for your travels
Even Olympians experience problems along the way. When making your plans for your travels, always have a backup plan in place for what you’ll do if “Plan A” doesn’t work out. Something I always do before I book my hotel is search the location I’m going to, and the area I’ll be surrounded by. This way, I can make better decisions on what I should see and do when I get to where I’m going, and have alternate plans available to me should I need them.
3: Travel insurance gets packed when traveling abroad
If you happen to get an eye infection while traveling in your native country, you would know what to do: go to a doctor, get a prescription and rest until everything’s cleared up. But what would you do in a foreign country? Not all health insurance plans cover you while you’re outside your home country. Additionally, finding proper medical care may not be as easy as following road signs. By packing a travel medical plan in your suitcase, you may be able to detour around some of these problems if you get ill or injured during your travels.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned as a result of these Olympic Games? How will the lessons of these games affect how you prepare for travel? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!