We have all had those travel fails, moments while traveling abroad where everything goes wrong. Only later do we realize how easy it could have been if our brain was working properly. It helps to have someone next to you to laugh about all the screw ups, especially when you can’t figure out your lefts and rights in another country.
However, as an avid solo traveler, I have been victim to the most common and outrageous stupidities while abroad, and I thought it was time to share them. First of all to have a laugh at myself and then of course to help you to avoid the same mistakes! Here are my top ten travel fails, in no particular order.
1. Airport Travel Fail
I have gone to the wrong airport not once, not twice, but now three times!! Some times I just never learn, but surprisingly I haven’t let that stop me missing my flight as many cities with multiple airports have good connecting transportation.
2. Lost Passport Travel Fail
Again this happened to me twice, you might notice a trend here. Although it wasn’t technically lost because both times I knew where I had left it. The first time I lost my passport was on the airplane, and begged the stewardess to go back and cram her arm down the seat because I knew it was there (which it was). The second lost passport incident was at a currency exchange counter, I was so frustrated at the women for flirting with the guy ahead of me and making me wait that I stormed off without my passport and only realized when I got to my hotel. What a pain that was to get it back!
3. Forgetting Lefts and Rights Fail
This seriously happened to me. I am great at North/South/East/West, but I didn’t realize how terrible I am at lefts and rights until I got to the middle of nowhere in China. I followed my directions precisely three times in a row (turn left out of the train station) until I ended up finding a phone somewhere and asking someone to help me call the hotel. Turns out that I kept turning right out of the train station by accident!
4. Being Scammed
There are scams in a lot of places, where people take advantage of you. Either offering things for free (not free), confusing you with the value of the currency, broken taxi meters and more. I have had my fair share of these, but the worst was getting scammed in China twice in the same day with the same scam!! This is really when you need a travel buddy to knock some sense into you.
5. Eating free street food in India Fail
This may sound obvious, but to be fair, my neighbor was buying street food and offered me some. I had eaten everything in India by this point, but for some reason this was different and I paid for it intensely the for the following week. Next time I will know to be a little more reserved in what I put into my body in India.
6. Missing Trains and Planes
I think this is a common travel fail. One of my first solo trips to Spain, I got lost in the train station, missing my train to the next city where I had a return flight. I missed both and had to rebook a ticket that cost more than my entire weekend getaway. We have all missed a flight, but I am proud to say that this was my only one to date!
7. Being Too Cheap
This goes for accommodations, transportation and food. From cockroaches to cramped, tiny, smelly seats, food poisoning and more. For all of these I have had horrible experiences, mostly in developing countries that could have easily been avoided by paying an extra 5 or 10 dollars. There is such thing as going too local.
8. Off Season Travel Fail
Some places are recommended to go at certain times of year, but I usually ignore that advice which is probably a travel fail in itself. However when you plan on camping, and sleeping outside sometimes you should listen. Greece Germany, and even China can be quite chilly outside of summer!
9. Toilet Travel Fails
Many places take adjusting to the local cuisine, but it is a regular fail not to stay nearby a toilet. I have had to jump into bushes, off the boat, or the most unsanitary of squatter toilets for relief. Not sure how to avoid this in the future, except by carrying toilet paper as my mom always tells me to do.
10. Hangover Fail
Just like the hangover movies, this is another mistake that I just never learn from. So many times terrible things happen because I just can’t think clearly, am sick or have to be dragged around by a grumpy friend. Do them and yourself a favor by delaying your plans, rather than making them pack your bag and puke on the bus/train/plane.
I think I could summarize all these travel fails into categories of being too local, too trusting and too stupid. Yet taking all these things into consideration, I would still do it all over again! As they say, bad decisions make for good stories! And with each trip I learn a little more about myself and how much more there is to learn about the world. That’s what I love about exploring other places and cultures as much as I can, so I am sure this list will keep growing!
If you have any travel fails that I missed, I would love to hear about them! Leave a comment below and let me know how you screwed up abroad.
Read more of Tara’s travel stories..
- Top Ten Travel Fails
- Why Live in Malta?
- Mimi the Cat: Part 2
- The Inconsiderate Traveler, Are You One?
- A Bartender’s Lauberhorn
- Mimi’s Story: Part 1
- A Whirlwind Weekend In Northern Italy
- Packing for Unknown Destinations
- Cambodian Electricity Bills
- Asian Driving Games
- Level 10 Traveler no more
- An oldie but a goodie
- Building Black Rock City
- Am I a Hobo?
- What I look for in a city
- Tara The Star
- A Sense of Scale