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Travel Mistakes: Our Best Stupid Stories

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?

 

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24 Hours in the Travel Life

Our story was originally posted on My Travel Moments, a travel blog that features travelling ‘oh shit’ moments.

When travelling, one day can pass too quickly. After anticipating something for so long, time often comes and goes faster than we’d like.

Unfortunately, travel has its dark periods too, and sometimes a mere 24 hours can feel nearly endless.
We experienced both sides of travel’s time-bending phenomena during our recent trip to Iceland.
On one particular morning, the snow was coating the streets, and we could hear a storm whistling through the windows.

We bundled up and scarfed down a warm breakfast, eagerly looking forward to our day at the Blue Lagoon.
It was the last day of our holiday, and we were going to spend it being pampered at the world’s most famous thermal pool.

On our way to the hot pools!

Our flight was early the next day, so we decided to save some money by not booking a hotel room for the next night. We’d just catch a few hours of sleep at the airport before it was time to board.

If the universe occasionally foreshadows trials ahead, maybe this was a sign: As we gathered our belongings, Kristin somehow managed to throw her phone across the room.

We swear it happened in slow motion, but we couldn’t move to stop it – and the phone soared right out our 3rd story window.

To say we are a bit addicted to our phones and social media is an understatement. We are bloggers, after all. Kristin was in a panic but the phone had survived by landing in a soft pile of snow. On with the day.

On our bus ride to the lagoon, we couldn’t believe our luck. The views were absolutely stunning covered in snow. We knew the lagoon was going to be cozy and surreal with this storm on our side.

Sure enough, it was heaven. We sank into the outdoor thermal pools, glasses of white wine in hand, and enjoyed many hours of relaxation as the snow fell lightly around us.

Before we knew it, the day had passed and the lagoon was closing. Warm and happy, we went back to the changing rooms to prepare for the next leg of our journey.

The Blue Lagoon was Perfect. 

Here’s where everything turned.

The unexpected…

We still had an open tab with the bar for our wine, so I started digging in my bag for my wallet.

Gone!

All of my money, bank cards… All gone. I suddenly remembered putting my wallet in the bus seat’s pocket. It’s weird how we react in these moments. I was mostly consumed with grief that I had lost something I’d owned since I was 16 years old.

Kristin’s concerns were more practical. First, that we couldn’t pay our bar tab. Second, that we couldn’t pay for our transportation to the airport. Third, that we’d just lost a huge amount of cash that we absolutely had to have for our next few weeks in England. Finally, that the last bus to Reykjavik was leaving in 20 minutes. We had very limited time to find solutions to all these problems.

We will always be thankful for the customer service at the Blue Lagoon for handling our situation with such compassion. They covered our bill for us, tracked down the bus where we’d left the wallet, and helped us make arrangements to pick the wallet up once we were back in Reykjavik.

We were saved, but stress levels were understandably high.

What was the last thing we wanted at this point? A night without a bed. But that’s exactly what was waiting for us.
Especially when that plan also fell to pieces.

By the time we were back in the city, wallet in hand, there were no more buses to the airport until morning.
Instead of spending our homeless night in a relatively comfy airport (with cushioned seats and a working heater), we slept in a cold, uncomfortable, drafty bus station.

We settled in for a long wait in the middle of a fierce blizzard – had we really been thankful for this weather just a few hours before?

When we finally arrived at the airport, our muscles were screaming, our faces were sore from the cold, and we hadn’t slept a wink.

We were a little overexcited to finally be in a warm building, but that euphoria was short lived.
Because remember that blizzard? Of course, it had delayed our flight.

Worse and worse

It delayed our flight for SIX HOURS.

The delay was so long that we missed the bus we had nonrefundable tickets for in London.

And by the time we finally reached that beautiful, coveted, blessing of a bed in Northern England, we had been awake for 36 hours straight.

In the morning, we reflected on the day before.

And we concluded that we genuinely love the adventures that make up our travelling lives. The world can throw any disaster at us, and we’ll still want to explore its every nook and cranny. We are addicted to the thrill of mixed emotions, and we’re fascinated by how much you can really experience in just one day.

The result? A great memory!

Here’s the truth: the best parts of travelling are those moments when you think ‘WHY?’

You won’t remember many details from seeing the famous Blue Lagoon; you’ll remember every slow second of the night you slept in a bus station during an arctic Icelandic blizzard. They create your most hilarious stories and you will laugh about them for years to come.

If you have any amazing stories of your own we’d love to hear them below.

 

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Are Popular Cuisines Better in Their Home Country?

One of the best (and sometimes strangest) parts of travelling is trying all the different cuisines from around the world.

While you can find Italian, Mexican, or Chinese restaurants in England or America, the actual food served might not live up to what you’d find in these countries. It’s always fun to try your favourite dishes (and some you’ve never heard of) right from their country of origin.

We’ve visited a number of countries with world famous cuisines, and we’d like to recommend some foods to try, some foods to avoid, and, of course, a nice local drink to enjoy with it all.

 

Chinese Cuisine

Give it a try!

Pigeon – Yes, the birds you see eating crap off the floor are a popular food choice in China. The head was still on the plate, but nobody ate that. The rest of the body was edible and surprisingly tasty. Like all meat, a complimentary sauce goes well with it. I thought it tasted similar to chicken. So if you want to be able say you’ve tried something that sounds strange (but tastes familiar), give this a go.

Our serving of delicious pigeon

If you dare…

Chicken Feet – When it comes to this popular dish, there’s just something that doesn’t sit right with me. They taste very fatty and the texture is too strange. I’m giving this one a massive avoid!

If you see this shape, run! 

My missed opportunity

Dog and Donkey – Where we lived (Guangzhou) there was a joke among locals that they would eat anything with legs except a table, anything in the ocean except a boat, and anything with wings except a plane. Yes, the Chinese seem to eat anything. One night after work I turned down an offer to go for dinner to try dog and donkey. Looking back, I still wonder what that would have been like.

Something to drink?

Tsingtao – Grab one of these cheap beers, but not too many. They can cause hangovers that are beyond words – some of the worst I’ve had! But it can be worth it for a drink that’s tasty and affordable.

Similar or different?

Completely different! Prawn crackers didn’t seem to exist and we only saw sweet and sour sauce once in the year we were there.

 

Thai Cuisine

Give it a try!

Noodle Soups – They may look bland and unsatisfying compared to all the curries available, but these soups are delicious. Fill yours up with noodles, herbs, spices, meats, and veggies. Make it as spicy as you want. Add in a little sauce or a squeeze of lime for extra flavor.

If you dare…

Squid – A lot of menus in Thailand will include squid in their meals. Feel free to skip. It’s just rank – very chewy and more effort than it’s worth.

Do not dare! 

Something to drink?

We have a few cheap options to recommend. If you’re out for a long night, grab a bucket of whatever mixed drink you prefer. Buckets are cheap and great to share with a friend or two.

You should also give sangsom, a local whiskey, a try. It’s cheap and goes well with coke. Kristin mixed it with orange juice once, but that was a fail.

Finally, there a couple local beers, like Singha or Chang. Keep in mind that the percentage of alcohol in Chang changes from drink to drink.

Similar or different?

Mostly different! Some dishes are a good representation, but we’ve found the spices and flavors to be stronger in the country.

 

Indian Cuisine

Give it a try!

A Thali Set – This is a full meal with plenty of variety. You get a curry and several side orders alongside rice or naan. Vegetarian meals are common in India, but you can get your thali set with meat if you prefer. You can also tell the cook how spicy you want it.

If you dare…

Honestly, there wasn’t anything in India we disliked. Everything was delicious, whether we were in a fancy restaurant or somewhere cheaper. By the end of our trip, we had grown a bit tired of curry (and our stomachs didn’t always feel great), but there is nothing we’d tell you to avoid.

Indian flavours made the stomach hurt but we loved them.

Something to drink?

Kingfisher – This is one of India’s best local beers, brewed in Bangalore. It’s reasonably priced and very refreshing when served cold. In a country where alcohol didn’t seem too popular, many places would still serve a cold Kingfisher.

Similar or different?

The same! All the food reminded us of Indian food back home.

 

Mexican Cuisine

Give it a try!

Guacamole – This world famous dish, created back in the Aztec age, is still popular today. Made from fresh, local avocados, no one does this dip better. It went well with every meal.

If you dare…

The spicy salsa – The waiters put down two salsas and warn that one is a little spicy, while the other is extremely spicy. Kristin got the two mixed up, and it was a terrifying moment that took some time to recover from.

Something to drink?

Margarita – Yes, please! We love ordering margaritas no matter where we are in the world, so of course margaritas would make the top of our list in Mexico. Served frozen or on the rocks, be sure to try the different flavors. Some include passionfruit and mango.

Similar or different?

There were some differences, and things definitely got a lot spicier.

 

Italian Cuisine

Give it a try!

Pasta alla Norma – This famous Sicilian pasta is a favourite of Kristin’s, and one she still talks about years later. It has simple ingredients – eggplant, tomato sauce, and ricotta, but there was something about it that made it so much richer and more satisfying than any Italian food from back home.

If you dare…

Octopus – We’d watch out for this seafood ending up in your meal. Maybe we just have something against ocean-dwelling animals with many tentacles.

Something to drink?

Bellini – Definitely try this famous Italian cocktail. It’s made from sparkling wine and a peach additive. You can find it throughout the country, but it first gained fame in Venice.

Similar or different?

The dishes might seem the same at first glance, but something about their ingredients are just better.

 

Icelandic Cuisine

Give it a try!

Reindeer Soup – This is one of the most popular dishes in Iceland. We even found a couple restaurants in Reykjavik that only had two items in the menu – Reindeer soup and a vegetarian alternative. Around Christmas time, some say the locals are willing to queue for hours for a serving in a warm bread bowl.

If you dare…

Fermented Shark – Hands down the worst thing I’ve ever tasted. It was horrible, sickly, vile, and a million other disgusting adjectives. It wasn’t at all what I expected. It was served in a jar, cut into six small cubes. Biting into the first piece was like biting into something that had been pulled right out of the ocean and thrown into a pile of salt. One was enough.

Horrendous!

Something to drink?

Brennivin – Brennivin is an unsweetened snapps that is best downed as a shot. It’s considered a special occasion drink amongst locals. It has a similar taste to vodka. You definitely need to try a shot. After all, isn’t being on a holiday a special occasion for us?

Similar or different?

Unknown. We’ve never tried (or seen) any Scandinavian restaurants outside of Iceland.

 

Based on our personal tastes we have found way more foods that we like than dislike in all the above countries. Be sure to get out there and try some yourself.

Is there something we’ve recommended that you hated? Or maybe you’re loving squid, octopus, or chicken feet? Let us know your experiences and opinions!

 

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?

CLICK HERE FOR A FREE GUIDE.