10 travel mistakes we’ve all made
As relaxing as holidays can be, we’ve all had those times where something has gone wrong in the middle of paradise and suddenly the holiday feels too ‘real life’. This happens to everyone while travelling, as we usually have a lot of things to do and remember to take with us along the way. So don’t fret! Just carry on and keep holidaying; it will all be a funny memory in a few weeks or even days.
1. You booked the wrong destination/travel date for your train or flight
Now this has happened to me numerous times! When you’re constantly on the go and booking things on your phone it’s very easy to misread or rush something. If this has happened to you, it’s important to quickly become familiar with the companies change policy to see if you can rectify the purchase. Once I had to change the leaving destination for a train I was taking to Germany and the Bahn website allowed me to change my ticket and receive a full refund for just a 15 Euro fee.
On the other hand, I booked a budget flight with Flybe and picked the wrong date by accident. I tried to contact them many times about it but they never responded (one of the many issues I’ve had with them), so I had to forfeit the money. If you can fix the date or place then try all you can, but sometimes you can’t in which case you just have to do the next best thing- book it again, don’t make the same mistake and move on!
2. You didn’t back up your photos…and your phone just got stolen
These days it’s easy to have auto-back up installed on your phone, but make sure you have it set up properly and regularly check your photos! I thought I had all my photos backed up but it turned out it wasn’t set up to do it automatically, only on my request. When I had my phone stolen in Vietnam I had lost over a month’s worth of photos and I was more devastated about that than anything!
If you’re using a camera or GoPro, back them up after each destination; it only takes 5-10 minutes. In most places theft is not a big issue, but I have lost count of the amount of people I’ve met that have lost or had a phone stolen while travelling! Shit happens and it is usually hard to prevent and unpredictable. The least you can do is make sure you don’t have much to lose from it if it happens.
3. You missed your flight
Now this may not have happened to everyone, although I can guarantee everyone has been close at least once! This has happened to me twice. Once was because I was too hungover/still drunk from the night before to get to the airport in time (note to self don’t book a flight which requires you to be at the airport at 4am). The other time was because the gate closed earlier than we realised to take passengers on a bus to the plane which was quite far from the gate.
If this happens and you’re already at the airport, go to the airline desk and see if they can put you on another flight. This happened to me on the second occasion with KLM for free. If you’re not at the airport and you’ve missed your flight because of extraneous circumstances, call the airline and see if they can help you onto another. You might also be able to claim another flight on insurance.
If not, don’t fret! Go sit in a cafe or your hostel with wifi and think of a solution; sort out your finances and book another flight for that day, in a few days time or take a train. Yes this is a mistake that can be a total waste of money, but when you’re travelling you have to realise that these things can happen and it’s NO BIG DEAL. Think of the best solution in the current situation, move on and keep enjoying your holiday!
4. You got ripped off by a local
This happens to EVERYONE and most often when you arrive in a new country. Do some research on what things should cost and whether you can barter (this will save you a lot), as sometimes you can end up paying 10 times more than what you should and you will leave feeling embarrassed as they snigger at your exorbitant payment!
Locals tell you ‘The price is $80’ with a straight face and some tourists fall for it, so they try it on everyone. If it is a bartering appropriate country and shop, offer a ridiculously low price and then walk away when they reject it- if they can afford to sell it to you (90% of the time it’s worth pennies) they will stop you and make the sale.
Look out especially when taking a taxi from the airport as you are usually flustered and just want to get out of there, with no idea of what it should cost and no intention of insulting the driver by trying to negotiate. I’ve had taxi rides that were $50 for 2km in Budapest, because I didn’t realise it was a ‘private’ taxi by a small sign differentiation. When you can’t negotiate, take note, move on and don’t make the same mistake!
5. You’ve booked an utterly shit hostel
Some hostels can be magical, social, clean places that we can’t believe are only $20 a night. However some are completely run down, in the middle of nowhere, unfriendly, dirty and just utterly shit. We’ve all had that feeling… you walk into the hostel and realise the photos online were slightly (or extremely) over-exaggerated and you can’t possibly be staying here.
But the good news is, most of the time you have only paid a deposit, so if you’re really unhappy you can just forfeit that, leave and jump on Hostelworld to find another right away!
6. You didn’t leave enough time between connections
When you’re booking a ticket it’s important to remember that a lot of time can be wasted by unforeseen circumstances, so always allow wayyy more time than you think you think. If your first flight was delayed and you are running late for your second connection, they will often rush you through or put you on another flight as it is out of your control. If you miss a long-distance train connection, you can sometimes use your ticket for the next train (that was my experience in Europe anyway). If you’re not sure always ask at the counter to see what your options are.
I flew into Munich, Germany and had a connecting train booked from the Central Station to Austria and didn’t realise the airport was 1hr train from the city- let’s just say there was 7 of us sprinting with ski gear through rush hour in Munich and we made the train within seconds! This could have been avoided if I had just googled how far the airport was to the city.
7. You’ve left something important behind
This only needs to happen once before you quickly learn to count your precious belongings before leaving anywhere. This can be really frustrating and easy to do if you’re travelling by yourself. If you leave something at a hostel, train or plane it is usually easily retrievable. The problem is that you usually don’t realise until you’ve finished your travelling journey and are in another city. Usually you have to cut your losses and move on, but if it’s really valuable you can arrange to have it sent to you.
Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to pack up your stuff so you can double check you have everything when you leave the train or hostel, because most of the time this happens when you’re in a rush!
On my way to a ski trip in Austria I accidentally left my ski jacket and scarf in a security screening tub, as it got stuck behind all my other things and I didn’t realise. Being in security I thought it would have been put aside, but when I went back no one had turned it in and it was gone!
8. You’ve chosen the cheap airline but realised you’re 100km from the city…
We all get giddy with excitement when we see €10 flights with Ryan Air to a place we’ve always wanted to go to, BUT beware- budget airlines often have terminals at airports in the middle of nowhere! This can take an hour or more to get into the city and more importantly it can cost you a fortune. Some of these airpots don’t have buses or trains so you have to take a very expensive taxi ride and it ends up being the same price as flying into the main airport!
9. You’ve accidentally insulted a local custom
This can be an easy mistake to make if you’re in a completely foreign culture, but however innocent it may seem to you it may be extremely offensive to others. If it does happen, just apologise and hope they can understand it was unintentional. That’s why it’s important to do some research on where you’re going if it’s totally unfamiliar to you.
Most locals won’t take offence as they know you’re a foreigner, but you still never want to insult anybody while in their country as you never know how severe it can snowball! If you travel to a place with a bit of background history and knowledge, an open mind and good manners you will be fine!
10. You’re wallet or handbag is stolen and you now have nothing
This can be a real problem but is easily avoided. I always take two cards with me when I travel; one travel debit card and one debit/credit from home for emergencies. When you go out only take small amounts of cash in your wallet at one time with a travel card, as you really don’t need more.
Keep your emergency card and cash locked in your locker at the hostel with your passport- this way if you have your bag stolen you’re not losing that much and it doesn’t become a huge drama which usually follows in police reports and days wasted.
These mistakes happen to everyone while travelling at some point, but just make sure you learn from it and it won’t happen again!