Travel advice from the pros: How to prevent your dream vacation from becoming a nightmare – Nova Scotia

Despite the sunny weather and ocean views, some recent “nightmare” Caribbean vacations have left more than a few Canadians feeling stranded after they went without running water or electricity for days at a time.

Earlier this year, one Nova Scotia family said their resort was without water for nearly a week, leaving people unable to flush toilets during a Sunwing-booked holiday. 

In February, another all-inclusive Sunwing trip to the Dominican Republic left about two dozen Nova Scotians without power and air conditioning in sweltering temperatures. 

To keep your dream vacation from turning into a nightmare, here’s some advice from two travel experts.

Jo Fitzsimons is a travel blogger based in the United Kingdom. Chris Elliott is a consumer travel expert and journalist in the U.S.

Number 1, do your research

Whether you ask family and friends who have recently returned from down south, or you rely on online reviews and pictures, it’s important to get a recent review you can trust.

Creative online searches from multiple sources can steer you away from the pitfalls of getting a biased review paid for by a resort.

“If you’re looking at a particular resort, you might do a search online for the resort and … terms like ‘scam’ or ‘worst vacation ever’, something like that, or ‘worst resort ever’ and then see what pops up. You’ll find all sorts of different reviews,” says Elliott.

“Don’t just go to one source, like TripAdvisor; cast a wide net.”

Different tour operators may offer better customer service — but at the same price point.

“Actually do a bit of an online check for the tour operator you’re going with, because when things go wrong, that’s the person you’re going to go to — it’s going to be your tour operator,” says Fitzsimons.

“If they’ve got a terrible history and awful reviews of dealing with people who are having an awful holiday, then you might actually want to go with a different tour operator.” 

Consider the area

Water and electrical interruptions happen from time to time just about everywhere. But some countries are better equipped to deal with such problems more quickly.

“That kind of thing happens all the time [in some Caribbean countries]. Normally these resorts are used to it; they have backup generators — but not always,” says Elliott.

“If you’re going to a country that doesn’t necessarily have the infrastructure, you need to have in your head that when things go wrong,” says Fitzsimons.

A quick fix, she notes, may not always be available.

Ben Nanton says he’s not giving up on his battle for a full refund of his all-inclusive vacation to Cuba, booked through Sunwing, after spending almost a week without running water at the Starfish Cayo Santa Maria resort. (Ben Nanton)

Look at pictures from real people

Fitzsimons says looking at other vacationers’ recent pictures will give a more honest, non-Photoshopped view of what your resort destination looks like. 

“You’re going to get those…

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