When travel becomes an important part of your lifestyle people look at what you do like it’s the most impressive thing in the world. I constantly get comments like “I could never do what you do” and “I’m far too stupid to travel like you do”
It’s time I let everyone in on a big secret we travel bloggers try to hide…. we’ve all made mistakes! Even the most seasoned travellers have made errors from time to time and I’m not talking just little mistakes. I once left my luggage at security and almost boarded my Eurostar train without it!
In this post I asked my fellow travel bloggers to reveal a story of a time they had things go wrong. It’s my hope that these stories will show that even if you are prone to making mistakes, travel is still possible. None of us have ever let our little (or big) travel mistakes prevent us from travelling again. As I like to say, if you can get a funny story out of it, it was worth it!
- 1 1. Is Your Passport Really A Passport? – Travelling Weasels
- 2 2. Which is Midday? 12AM or 12PM? – Anita Hendrieka
- 3 3. The Importance of Water – Journalist on the Run
- 4 4. What A Difference A Day Makes – Holiday From Where
- 5 5. When The Nightmare Becomes A Reality – Travel Telling
- 6 6. Hotel Booking From Hell – The World Pursuit
- 7 7. Reasons To Wear A Watch – Ian’s Gap Year
- 8 8. Research Gone Wrong – Amble Unbound
- 9 9. A Birthday To Remember – The Thought Card
- 10 10. Always Read The Fine Print – Foodie Flashpacker
- 11 11. The Only Thing You Don’t Want to Forget – A Girl Abroad
- 12 12. Thank God For The Hostel Staff! – The Whole World or Nothing
- 13 13. How Many Stations in Agra? – Freeborn Aiden
- 14 14. Days and Times Can Be So Confusing – Make Time to See The World
- 15 15. Budgets Can Be Hard to Keep – Emily Luxton
- 16 16. A Blessing in Disguise – Gamintraveler
1. Is Your Passport Really A Passport? – Travelling Weasels
For months we’d been planning our trip to Australia, quitting our jobs, getting rid of our apartment, graduating from university. We were so excited to set off together on our big adventure and couldn’t believe that the day was finally there. My mum and partner took us to the airport, tearily kissed us goodbye and drove away. We went to check in our bags, showed the woman behind the counter when BOOM our dreams were shattered – she wouldn’t except my fiance, Tanbay’s, German passport! I told her that she was crazy, we’d travelled multiple times across Europe with it, and she said yes, EUROPE, this is a European Identity card, you can go all around Europe with it, but not outside Europe! We had no idea it was an identity card not a real passport, and he wasn’t allowed to board the plane!! I went by myself, and it took two weeks for Tanbay to be able to get there! Idiot check: is your passport really a passport?
2. Which is Midday? 12AM or 12PM? – Anita Hendrieka
My biggest fail as a traveller was when I was jetting off to Italy to meet with a friend who had just flown in from China. We timed the flights so we would be at the train station in Rome at around the same time but things didn’t work out so smoothly. I had just caught my train into London and was looking for my next train which would take me up to Manchester where my flight departed. I could not find my train anywhere, so I frantically asked one of the train guards to help me and he told me the bad news. My train left at 12.30pm and not 12.30am (I still to this day cannot figure out my 12am and 12pm) so I had totally missed it which meant I missed the flight to Rome and my friend had to wait over 8 hours in the train station for me. We also had no communication because for some reason our phones stopped working so she just had to wait until I turned up hours later! Now I never book a train or flight if it’s around 12 o’clock. Biggest fail ever.
3. The Importance of Water – Journalist on the Run
I’ve made so many mistakes as both a backpacker and a travel blogger that it’s difficult to choose just one. One that stands out quite clearly (I lie, it’s actually a bit fuzzy) apart from turning up at the wrong airport is that time I let myself get so dehydrated in Thailand that I ended up fainted and cracking my head open. I woke up in my hostel dorm with my hair matted in bloody, my front tooth missing and a very big pain in my head. A few hours later, 5 stitches in the back of my head and visit to the dentist and I was a little bit better but it certainly taught me the importance of drinking bottles of water instead of vodka when travelling in a hot country.
Photo: Note my lack of smile (I had one tooth missing) and a head band that covered up the back of my head where a big patch of hair had been shaved off to make way for the stitches!!
4. What A Difference A Day Makes – Holiday From Where
I flew to NYC, I was there for two months, I already had my departure booked, I was flying onto Copenhagen afterwards. The two months passed and the 4th of July came. I packed all my things and started to say my goodbyes to everyone with them trying to convince me that I made a mistake leaving on the 4th of July and that I should stay. Just before leaving I decided to check my flight status online because there is nothing worse than arriving at the airport and having your plane delayed when you could have stayed home a little longer. I enter my number and no flight status is displayed. I start to think there is some kind of problem, I immediately grab my ticket and scan down… I land on the 4th of July but leave on the 3rd. After hundreds of flights I’d never missed one but, here I was an entire day late and very embarrassed to venture back into the room where my friends are waiting to say goodbye to me. I explain and I ask them if I can stay a few more days and they all just laugh.
5. When The Nightmare Becomes A Reality – Travel Telling
Do you guys also dream about showing up at the wrong airport, getting on the wrong train or similar things? I have that from time to time and when I wake up I am even more confused. A couple of years ago when I was traveling from the North of Sweden to Stockholm I was not dreaming. At the train station in Östersund I entered the sleeping wagon. As it was an eight hour train ride on the night train I was prepared to fall asleep immediately. When I entered the cabin which I thought I had booked I found myself in an eight bed dorm with no single bed available. Turned out I had booked the wrong date. All dorms were now fully booked. I had the choice of getting a single cabin for a ridiculously high amount of money or a seat between two families with kids who wouldn’t stop crying. Guess who spent a lot of money that night…
6. Hotel Booking From Hell – The World Pursuit
Last year we found a great deal on accommodation in Ayia Napa in Cyprus. We decided that we should just book seven days off the bat. When we arrived the apartment was less than adequate. There was a roach problem, the beds were like wood, and it was dirty among some of the issues. We pleaded with the owners to give us our money back to which they refused. We were stuck staying in this place for an entire week and it really put a damper on our time in this part of Cyprus. Now we only book places for two nights and then decide if we want to extend the booking or leave.
7. Reasons To Wear A Watch – Ian’s Gap Year
My first trip to Las Vegas was for a work conference: my days were filled with meetings and presentations, and at night I was stuck with co-workers. What kind of Vegas trip is all work and no play? It certainly wasn’t the first trip to Vegas that I imagined – so on the way to the airport, I decided to stop at a strip club.
Unfortunately, I forgot how difficult it is to keep track of time in a strip club… you’re “preoccupied” and there’s no shortage of drinks. Before I knew it, I looked down at my phone and realized I was very very late. I signed the credit card bill, grabbed my luggage, and ran out the door to catch a taxi.
I sprinted into to the airport, looking like a crazy person, and manage to skip to the front of the security line. I reach for my wallet to show my ID, but my drivers license wasn’t there! The strip club had photocopied my ID and I forgot to get it back on the way out.
Moral of the story: don’t go to a strip club on the way to an airport, and if you do, remember to set an alarm!
8. Research Gone Wrong – Amble Unbound
Once, while traveling through the Baltics, I planned a three day trip to visit The Ninth Fort Museum in Kaunas, Lithuania. I booked my hostel stay, organized the 16 hour round trip bus ticket, researched nearby restaurants and shops and learned everything I could about the history of the fort during its Soviet and Nazi occupation. I felt a sense of reserved excitement to visit such a solemnly powerful place.
After spending all morning doing loops around the city on a bus, I was finally dropped off near my destination. I walked curiously across an empty parking lot on a grey and rainy mid-morning, only to arrive at the front door and find the museum was closed. It is closed one day a week- on the day I decided to visit!
9. A Birthday To Remember – The Thought Card
Even the most well versed travelers forget a thing or two about the basics. A few years ago I had big plans to celebrate my birthday in Las Vegas, Nevada. To save some money on transportation, I took a new route and bought a cheap bus ticket to the airport. I must have been having an off day because I ended up doing very little research and I forgot to confirm my departing airport terminal.
I got off at a random bus stop and wandered around the airport for a while until I realized that my terminal was on the other side. Despite taking an express shuttle bus to the correct terminal and rushing through security, I was too late. I arrived right when the cabin crew closed the door. I missed my flight to Las Vegas and I had no one to blame but myself.
Luckily one of the attendants heard my sad birthday story and offered to reschedule my reservation for the next day, free of charge. Since that silly mishap, I’ve never forgotten to check the airport terminal again!
10. Always Read The Fine Print – Foodie Flashpacker
Arriving in Dresden, Germany near midnight on a late bus I grabbed a taxi to the hotel I had reserved online. When I arrived the door was locked and there was no answer. I borrowed the taxi drivers phone to call the number from my reservation. A woman answered and told me the hotel was closed. I told her I had a confirmed reservation. She said “Sorry, hotel closed. I give your room away. You come too late.” before hanging up the phone.
Checking my reservation confirmation I noticed that it said checkin was only from 2-6 p.m.
It’s midnight in a city I’ve never been in and I’m locked out of my hotel. I get back in the taxi and he drives me from place to place trying to find a hotel with availability. 75 euros later we end up at a place that is double what I want to spend. And that’s how I learned to read the fine print when booking hotels online.
11. The Only Thing You Don’t Want to Forget – A Girl Abroad
We’d just arrived at the airport when I spoke up from the backseat “Dad, we need to go home. I don’t have my passport”. My sister and I were jetting off to Europe on our first big solo trip together. Somehow, in our haste of packing that morning, I left my passport at home. Fortunately (amazingly) we had plenty of time to return for it. My sister was promptly dropped off and left to stand in the check-in line while dad and I raced back home for the offending passport. I got it, made it back in time for the flight, and set out for London. When I arrived though, I realised I’d left all my bank cards at home…
12. Thank God For The Hostel Staff! – The Whole World or Nothing
The biggest travel mistake we’ve made was when we got the date wrong for a flight from Colombia to Beijing. It was such an expensive flight so we thought we’d plan well ahead and had booked to stay in a hotel near the airport the night before. If it wasn’t for the owner of the hostel we were staying at kindly printing our flight documents and saying ‘you do realise your flight is in a few hours not tomorrow’ we would have turned up at the airport a day late! It was an easy mistake because the flight was 00:05 17/04/16 so on the 16/04/16 we had assumed we had another day in Colombia but we didn’t! The flight was that night! Luckily we managed to get to the airport with just enough time to spare and only lost the cost of a nights hotel stay but it was super stressful. We’ve never packed so quickly in our lives. Always double and triple check your flight times and dates!
13. How Many Stations in Agra? – Freeborn Aiden
Agra in India. I had seen the Taj and it was time to move on. I hit the tourist desk at Agra Fort train station which opens at 11:00 each day to sell a limited allocation of tickets to tourists.
I was first in the queue but that doesn’t count for much in India. When I did get to the window I requested a ticket to Udaipur for that evening in sleeper class. “No problem” the attendant assured me and confirmed the destination, the time, date and the seat number. I headed back to my guesthouse and spent the 7 hours I had left relaxing.
Later that day I was back at the station, ticket in my hand looking for my train. Only I couldn’t find it anywhere. I ran back to the sales desk window where I had bought the ticket earlier that day and in true local fashion, barged my way to the front.
“I can’t see the train. What platform does it leave from?”
The attendant (not sharing my sense of urgency) calmly peered through his glasses and took a closer look at my ticket.
“Sir, your train is leaving from Agra Cantonment station. This is Fort Agra Station”.
I hadn’t realised there were 2 stations in Agra. I hailed a Tuk-Tuk and went back to my guesthouse. The staff were surprised to see me, helped me back into my room and remarked
“But Sir, everybody know’s there are 2 stations in Agra”.
Do they now? Do they?
14. Days and Times Can Be So Confusing – Make Time to See The World
I’ve been travelling for almost 9 years now, so I like to think I’ve got the whole planning thing down – so I really get that red-faced feeling when I make mistakes! And they’re only getting more and more embarrassing as I get older!
Firstly, when booking our 9 week Asia adventure I booked our flight with Lao Airlines from Vientiane to Hanoi for the right day in the wrong month! Doh! Thankfully they were not a budget airline in Europe who would have charged me for a whole new flight! They were in fact super understanding and changed our flights to the right month without a second thought. Winning.
Second – and this only happened a few months ago – I booked our accommodation in Turkey for the right day in the wrong month. Again. You think i’d learn from my mistakes, right?! But this time I lost the balance of the booking, and had to fork out for another hotel at almost twice the price! Losing.
And my third recent travel mistake is a doozy. Something even a beginner will chuckle at. I messed up the time we had to leave our house to get to the airport to catch our flight to NZ! We left an hour after we were supposed to, had to forfeit our cheap pre-booked car parking, parked in the airport at the terminal (super expensive) and had to run through the airport with our bags and ski gear. We made it to the desk with 3 minutes to spare! – and nearly had an asthma attack in the process. What a nightmare! (But worth it in the end)
15. Budgets Can Be Hard to Keep – Emily Luxton
A couple of months ago, I was commissioned to spend a weekend in Prague for less than £200 on a money saving challenge. The idea was to prove that, with a bit of clever planning and organisation, budget travel is easier than most people think. So what did I do? I went ahead and had the least organised weekend of my life! First, I booked a flight which I thought was at 8am – and only realised two days before my trip that it was actually at 8pm. Thinking I’d be arriving early, I booked a hotel without bothering to check if they had a 24 hour reception. Spoiler alert – they didn’t.
It was close to midnight when I reached the hotel. The front door was locked, the street was deserted, and I was left out in the snow with no phone signal and no way in. Freezing cold, I had no choice but to walk down the road and find the nearest open hotel to crash in for a grand total of ten hours. The price was double what my pre-booked hotel cost, and I still had to pay for the night in the original place – eating away about half my budget and totally ruining my money-saving challenge. Proof that disorganisation costs!
16. A Blessing in Disguise – Gamintraveler
The most memorable mistakes I did while traveling was one time when I was flying to the Philippines. My flight was from Jakarta to the Philippines, but with a stopover in Singapore . I didn’t buy any flight out ticket from the Philippines which was required. They didn’t let me go inside the plane when I first arrived to Changi airport for my flight. Right at that moment, I had to buy a flight ticket to fly out from the Philippines (I bought one to go to Taiwan), 30 minutes before departure. Good thing that Changi airport has strong wifi and it was possible for me to buy a ticket online fast. When I was ready to show them all my requirements, the flight I was about to take was actually overbooked. So I had to stay in the airport for a few more hours, but luckily they gave me bonuses – a free flight (worth $150), a dinner, plus a free city tour. So the mistake in the end actually became a blessing in disguise. What an unforgettable experience!
I hope you enjoyed reading these stories. Mistakes are a part of life and not a reason to avoid something. Do you have any funny travel mistakes? Leave a comment below
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