10 Mistakes I Made Abroad

10 Mistakes I Made Abroad

Traveling has so many twists, turns, ups and downs, it can be hard to keep up.  There are often unforeseen issues that arise and can totally ruin your day- if you let it.  The trick?  ALWAYS keep a notebook (and your sense of humor) on hand.
Personally, I’ve slipped up MANY times along the way, learning and taking lots of notes as I’ve gone along.  Amidst any given travel f**k up, I’d joke: “At least it’s a good story.  It’s good writing material right?”  My mistakes have provided for great stories here on my blog and over dinner dates, but ultimately it’s good to know these things in advance so you don’t have to be a walking punchline (like me).
So, I volunteer as tribute for you all.  Get your notebooks out.  Learn from my mistakes, and be a better traveler than I.

1.  Not printing my boarding pass with Ryanair and other budget airlines, costing me $50-$70 JUST TO PRINT AND BOARD!  Can you even believe that nonsense?!  I couldn’t either.  I tried to argue with the gate agent to no avail.  Ryanair to Heather: Oh, you thought you could actually get away with paying $60 for a flight?  That’s cute.  Here are five additional charges you didn’t see coming.  Don’t worry, we take credit cards!    departure-2042513_1920.jpg
2.  Getting on the wrong train taking me to the ends of the earth in Vienna, and costing me 5 hours I’ll never get back…and my sanity.  At least it was pretty scenery, right?railway-140967_1920.jpg
3.  Attempting to couch surf in Barcelona.  If you’re an avid traveler (or someone who doesn’t live under a rock), you’ve probably heard of CouchSurfing.com.  I can’t say I’m totally against it, as I’ve heard so many amazing stories from fellow travelers; but I did have a horrible experience.  I have been scared away from trying it again ever since.  After one bad situation, I just decided my sanity and safety were worth the $15 I’d pay for a bed in a hostel with security.  bed-142516_1920.jpg
4.  Being an uneducated traveler and showing up to South Africa with little to no knowledge about the country itself, the sociological or political climate, or which languages the locals spoke (luckily for me, English was one of the official languages).  It all turned out fine, but I had a little wake up call and realized the importance of doing due diligence before booking your trip.  Every bit of knowledge helps!  IMG_0495.jpg
5.  Double booking myself for two different hostels on the same night in Rome, costing me double the money and an instant headache.  Moral of the story: don’t book train ticket AND accommodation after drinking wine in Italy, or anywhere else for that matter.  It’s a big waste of money, and takes away from your total travel budget!
6.  Visa slip ups.  At the end of 2015, I had plans to go to India with a fellow travel buddy, and I was SO excited.  Low and behold the big road block… I did not properly go through all the channels to obtain a visa to travel to India, so I had to reroute plans last minute and cancel my flight, which cost me the price of my ticket in full.  Take notes people!  No visa = no India…at least for American travelers.
7.  Falling in love in South Africa and putting off my travel plans and close-enough-to-touch dreams.  This one may or may not be an ultimate mistake, but I certainly have my regrets about skipping the countries I had planned during that time!  What I’ve learned from all of it is this:  If your priority is to see the world, make sure you stay in line with that!  The right person/situation won’t hinder your dreams, and hopefully could join you out on your adventures.
8.  Losing my phone in strange places.  I once left my iPhone on the counter in the bathroom of a techno club in Barcelona.  It got stolen, I cried, and my buzz was ruined, to say the least.  Two lessons here… 1. Don’t drink and take your phone out at bars.  2. Don’t go to a techno club in the first place.  dj-743802_1920.jpg
9.  Skipping out on certain “cliche” tourist attractions because of the crowds or the ticket fees.  There were many times that I opted to spend the day solo roaming around any given place, and turned down offers from fellow travelers to visit major attractions.  Kuala Lumpur haunts me as one of these places.  I skipped the Batu Caves all three times I was in that city and I’m still kicking myself!  Of course, my attitude towards all this changes, but in general I’ve now adopted the mindset of “You’ve come all this way, Heather.  Get your butt out there!  Ignore the temporary cost and massive sweaty crowds.  Be one with the experience.”  
10.  Not leaving sooner.  My biggest regret regarding travel?  The fact that I didn’t start sooner.  Now that I’ve seen how beneficial it is to my health, wellness and over all existence, I realize how much I’ve been missing out on during my adult life.  I see just how wrong my previous path was for me, and how right this one is.  I am meant to travel, explore, learn and grow.  I know that now!  And lucky for me, I’m still young and have plenty of life (and traveling) ahead of me.
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All smiles two weeks ago in Stockholm, Sweden, rocking my new Lantinga Vita bag!


Stay tuned everyone…I’m planning my next adventure as we speak, and it’s going to be full of a lot more “good writing material” (aka. crazy adventures and travel fails).
~HMD

About the Author:

On August 14th, 2015 I left my life in the United States behind with the intention to never look back. I had the "American Dream" and I woke up from it, to create a new reality for myself. I sought out beauty in a world that was increasingly dark for me at the time and ended up finding more than I bargained for. With only a backpack, I traveled across Europe, South East Asia and then on to Africa. With over 30 countries stamped in my passport, I've become an entirely new version of myself with a broader perspective on what it means to be a woman in today's world. My hope is that by sharing my stories and featuring women like me from around the world, we can inspire others to break down their own internal barriers and go cross a few international borders while they're at it. I truly believe travel can be healing to a troubled soul, empowering to the lost and rejuvenating for the exhausted. Perspective is everything, and I believe in the power of "going global," what about you? SheGoesGlobal.net is a site that started out with my stories and grew into a platform for women all around the world to tell their travel tales of trials and triumph. We all believe that the more you see of the world, the better you can be as a person who inhabits it. Women encouraging other women to grow, travel, evolve- that's what SGG is all about. ---> Read my very first blog post (see "Archives" for August 2015) to learn how this all began.

7 Comments

  1. john rodgers July 31, 2017 at 9:38 pm - Reply

    The one I agree with most is #10. I wish I had started on the road at your age. Now I am trying to cram way to much into a shrinking window. The others some I have done, most I have not but things I am glad I missed out on for the most part.

  2. lisakf August 3, 2017 at 2:35 am - Reply

    Definitely a few mistakes I have made myself… Skipping tourist attraction might be good if you want to travel off the beaten path but there are also a few wonderfully beautiful things I would have never seen if I skipped on them. And I mean, what’s Rome without the Fontana di Trevi or New York without Times Square?

  3. Niki Gordon August 3, 2017 at 11:17 am - Reply

    I’ve definitely made a mistake or two or probably more.. Yeah, let’s go with more. It happens to the best of us though.

  4. Marissa's Teachable Moments August 14, 2017 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    You had me at #1!! I will find a printer so I can print my boarding pass. Thanks for that tip!

  5. prmadm August 14, 2017 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Hahaha! Double booking–don’t make reservations when drinking wine in Italy. Great article! I think many travelers make these mistakes if they travel enough. I suspect there’s a pretty good chance some will be made again, too (who can avoid drinking wine in Italy and making a few poor choices?). 🙂

  6. […] yourself-  I shared my story with you all about my double booking in Italy (thanks wine) in my “10 Epic Travel Fails,” and I’ve got to reiterate here.  I just heard of another traveler doing the same thing […]

  7. […] Today, I figured I’d share a few of those “warnings” from my own experiences and epic travel fails.   […]

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