Traveling is a rollercoaster. There are so many great experiences, unforgettable moments, and times of complete wonder and joy.
Maybe you’ll even experience these highs most of the time.
But we all make mistakes and do stupid shit from time to time. We’ve definitely had a few mishaps during our travels, and we think you can learn from them – or at least be entertained by these stories.
Have a laugh at our expense!
Mistake: We missed our flight by 24 hours.
Travel lesson: Double and triple check your flight information!
We had a good time during our recent trip to Guangzhou, China – but we were also ready to leave by our departure date.
We skipped to the check-in line. We were three people from the counter when suddenly Simon looked a little concerned. He had a slight worry.
What day was our flight again? It might have actually been yesterday.
It was yesterday.
We tried our luck pleading for a little mercy. Kristin cried. Simon shouted. We ended up paying $885 for a new flight that didn’t leave until two days later.
So how had this happened? The flight was departing at 2am. While we do understand that 2am actually means “morning” not “very late that night” we just hadn’t thought about it hard enough. Stupid.
Surely everyone will miss a flight in their travel lives right?
Mistake: We booked flights to a place we didn’t actually want to go to.
Travel lesson: “It’s Monday and we’re bored” isn’t actually a good reason to book a random flight without any research or discussion.
Who wouldn’t want to spend a luxurious week in the Maldives!
Well, us, actually.
It was Monday, after a grueling work day. Bangkok was raining because that’s what Bangkok likes to do 6 months out of the year. We were annoyed at the crowded trains, smoggy city, and congested traffic.
A beautiful beach, very very far away, sounded like the only thing anyone could ever want.
Maybe we’d heard somewhere that it was a little expensive, or a little conservative. Whatever! We’ve been to the Middle East. We’re from two of the most expensive countries in the world. No need to look into those concerns.
But as we approached departure day, money was a bit tight.
Kristin made a radical suggestion: “Maybe we should make an alcohol budget to keep us in check while we’re there, hmm?”
This quickly uncovered three important things:
1. We couldn’t afford the Maldives.
2. Alcohol is illegal in the Maldives.*
3. We really, really didn’t want to go to the Maldives. AT. ALL.
So the day before our flight we decided: We’re not going. We booked a one-way ticket to the South of Thailand instead – still beautiful and tropical, but also cheap and boozy.
*You can get very expensive alcohol at very expensive resorts in the Maldives, or you can go to “floating bars,” which are boats that serve alcohol far enough from land to be considered international waters.
We opted for the South of Thailand.
Mistake: We decided, on purpose, to be homeless for the night in Iceland in late December.
Travel lesson: When choosing between a hotel room or an arctic blizzard, choose the hotel room.
We’ve told this story before, but it was way too stupid not to include on the list. Did we mention that we made this decision on purpose with full knowledge that it was ICELAND and WINTER. There are just no words. Our only defense is that our flight was in the early morning and this half-baked plan would “save us money.” REALLY???
Iceland in the winter is freezing! Don’t go homeless!
Mistake: Trying to find a last-minute hotel in China. Twice.
Travel lesson: China is a difficult country. Even if you aren’t a planner, make a plan.
Okay, so maybe the first time this happened it was forgivable. We were new to China travel and thought we could just rock up anywhere without a problem.
But China isn’t like the rest of Asia. Everything becomes strangely and inexplicably difficult there. The first few taxi drivers refused to take us anywhere. The next few wouldn’t even talk to us.
Somehow we ended up lost in the Forbidden City for two hours, still carrying our bags. It was raining.
And from there, somehow, we ended up on a Chinese-speaking tour bus with no seats for us. How does one accidentally join a Chinese tour with no seats left? I honestly can’t remember. I also can’t remember how we eventually escaped the tour bus. I do remember that everyone on that bus was eating corn on the cob and the smell was overwhelming.
We did eventually overpay for some inconveniently located hotel, and you’d think we’d have learned our lesson…
…but only a few weeks ago, there we were again: grumpy, sweaty, and homeless in China. Carrying around our heavy backpacks for SEVEN HOURS before admitting defeat and just going back to the same hotel we had checked out of that morning.
This summed it up.
Mistake: Getting an unwanted kiss from a taxi driver in Beijing.
Travel lesson: There is no lesson here. Creepy men suck. Creepy men, please stop being creepy.
Kristin spent a day at the Temple of Heaven alone and quickly learned that some taxi drivers are much friendlier to solo foreign women than they are to foreign couples.
One in particular seemed very excited to practice his English, and he quickly covered the usual subjects: Where are you from? What do you do? How long will you be in Beijing?
But the next part of the conversation took an unexpected turn when he shouted:
“I LOVE YOU!”
Kristin laughed a bit nervously and said nothing.
“SAY YOU LOVE ME, TOO!”
“Oh, er, okay, I love you.”
The rest of the ride he was happily singing “I love you, you love me too, hehehehehe!”
When Kristin tried to pay him at the end of the ride, he didn’t lean forward to take the money. Instead, he waited for her to lean forward, then grabbed her head and kissed her.
Creepy men, PLEASE stop being creepy.
Mistake: Our motorbike was stolen in Hanoi, but not really.
Travel lesson: Ask your hotel where to safely park before leaving your bike anywhere overnight.
What is the worst thing you can imagine first thing in the morning when you’re on holiday and suffering through a horrible hangover?
Is it being told that you owe some bike rental company $1,500?
We had parked our rented bike in front of the hotel the day before. It was surrounded by many, many other bikes, so this seemed like a good call at the time.
But the next day we were accused by the hotel staff of allowing the bike to be stolen. There was apparently a parking garage under the hotel that we should have used, but there were no signs and no one had told us.
After we became quite angry, the bike was conveniently found. Maybe a little suspicious?
Be careful where you leave your bike in Vietnam.
Mistake: Buying five jugs of Sangria in Oman.
Travel lesson: Yes, you can find sangria in Oman. Don’t get carried away when you do.
Don’t misunderstand – drinking five jugs of Sangria is good fun. This was a great night.
It was also a very, very expensive night. And our first night in an expensive country. We had to watch every penny from then on out.
By our last day, we had basically nothing left. We couldn’t afford to go anywhere or do anything – we just hung around our friend’s apartment and waited for our flight the next day.
(For more about that eventful sangria night, see our post on our best drunk stories.)
Oman is expensive! Don’t end up pennyless.
Travel mistakes are never fun in the moment, but in time they become your favorite stories! We’ve found that it’s weirdly disappointing now to return from a trip that went smoothly from start to finish.
But let’s always make new mistakes and learn from the old ones.
Hopefully you’ve learned something from our mistakes – now we’d love to learn from yours. Any stories to share?
TRAVELERS OFTEN GET ASKED HOW WE’RE ABLE TO FIND THE MONEY, TIME, OR COURAGE TO GO ABROAD.
WANT TO KNOW HOW WE DO IT?