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!
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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).