That obligatory post about my travel mistakes

It’s like this; I could stay home, or I could travel a lot and make mistakes.  So yeah, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and I’m ready to own all of them.  Cringe along with me, why don’t you?

coatfaile

This coat.

I visited at least four countries in this coat with it’s gigantic fur collar.  These days I try to blend in and not look flashy or wealthy,  Sure, I bought this 1970’s masterpiece from a thrift store for $8, but still.

typhoid

Not budgeting for vaccines.

Until recently, my travels have not required vaccines, other than routine tetanus and flu shots.  Naively, I thought they’d be covered by my insurance policy.  Imagine my horror when the nice nurse at the travel clinic cited a $1500 charge, entirely out of pocket, for a pre-exposure rabies vaccine.  $1500 for a rabies vaccine!  My cat just got his for $30, and that included an engraved red tag and a suitable-for-framing certificate.  I declined the rabies shot, but sprung for the less-pricey typhoid and hepatitis options.  Don’t act surprised if I start foaming at the mouth in the near future…..

waterheater

Hogging all the hot water.

My favorite cure for travel fatigue is hot water and soap.  Some of the time, okay most of the time, I turn into a shower zombie, just standing there feeling sooooo goooood…..until the hot water runs out and I’ve now earned the wrath of HOB who has to suffer through a cold shower.  See that water tank in the picture?  If your room comes with one of those, that means your hot water is limited.  Don’t be a shower zombie—get in and out fast so you don’t screw over your traveling companion.

santa

Forgetting about holidays.

This is the mistake I make every trip.  Every.  Single.  Trip.  I forget to check for holidays.  Holiday travel can be magical; like the time we found ourselves marching in the National Day parade in Budapest, or the other time we heard the gorgeous church music on Good Friday in Leipzig.  Sometimes, though, holidays can just be frustrating.  One year we traveled to the Alsace region of France in early winter, assuming that it would be a cheap time to travel.  Surprise!  We found ourselves in the midst of Christmas market madness—not that I have a problem with Christmas markets, but they don’t interest me enough to make up for the overpriced hotels and crowds everywhere.  The biggest problem with holidays is the closures; closed tourist sites, restricted public transportation, and the hassle of trying to find cheap food when the grocery stores are shut down.  Don’t be a dumb-dumb like me—before booking those plane tickets google the name of your destination plus “public holidays.”

currywurst

Eating too much unhealthy food.

When HOB and I first started traveling, we had the “We’re on holiday so let’s indulge” mentality.  We ate donor kebabs and gelato twice a day.  We tried every pastry at the bakery.  We ate waffles, fries and hamburgers from brightly decorated booths in town squares.  And during one memorable trip to Madrid, we survived on nothing but deep fried foods for a week.  Well, that was fun while it lasted.  Now that we’re middle-aged and have learned how to picnic, we eat relatively healthy foods, foods that will sustain us during long days, not enough sleep, and strenuous walking.  Not only do we have more energy, but we’re avoiding those unmentionable digestive complications that so often occur with traveling.  Don’t get me wrong—we still have treats, but we go for quality local specialties and we split them.

wob16-jpg

Not traveling when I was younger.

It’s almost obligatory for travelers to write about their mistakes and while it’s fun to join in the chorus, I remain proud of my mistakes.  By getting out there and traveling every chance I get, I’m screwing up, but also learning what works.  Coats with giant fur collars?  Fail.  Waterproof walking shoes?  Win.  There’s only one travel mistake that I regret, which is I didn’t start traveling earlier in life.  After hustling my way into a international exchange program at 16, I didn’t travel again until I was in my 30’s.  I kept waiting not to be broke, for my career as an artist to take off, for my student loans to be paid off.  Now that we’ve learned to get along, I love travelling with HOB.  That said, what would it have been like to travel as a single 23 year old, with no mortgage, career or cat to worry about?  If you get anything from this blog, other than a few facts about UNESCO World Heritage Sites and decent toilet-locating tips, please walk away with this: travel now.  Don’t wait.  Be resourceful and work within your means.  Don’t plan for once-in-a-lifetime-trip.  Sleep in lumpy beds.  Travel in crappy weather.  Go see it for yourself.

And always carry snacks.

 

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31 comments

  1. Fabulous post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Michelle–I hope you haven’t made as many silly mistakes as me!

      Like

  2. Wonderful article. I’m going to share! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing Accent Travel. I can see from your blog that you’re not making too many travel food mistakes!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL Food is my second passion! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Travel while young… that is my life motto. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Always travel while your knees are still good. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. If that coat’s a mistake, I don’t want to be correct…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not denying the coat is fabulous, just not a practical travel coat. I finally gave it back to the thrift store because I was getting too much stink eye from my anti-fur friends.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think I got rabies vaccination in Bangladesh for under $10 or $20! Also, prices in Bangladesh aren’t too affected by holidays. Of course, it’s not too often on a tourist’s bucket list! A great post! I agree about the travel young thing. Fortunately after dreaming about visiting Switzerland for 45 years, it actually happened in 2013. If you check my blog, you can see that we have done some traveling. Of course, some was out of necessity, because of our visa!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. $20? It’s worth traveling to Bangladesh just to save on vaccines. I haven’t been there yet but I’ve met a lot of super Bangladeshi folks that make me want to. I bet you’d experience a lot of closures there during Ramadan.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Mistakes I suspect we have all made plenty. in our most recent trip I would say not checking for festivals would be our top one – Singapore is expensive at the best of times but at Chinese New Year – Oh My!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yikes! Did you at least get to participate in some cool Chinese New Year activities?

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  7. You were rocking that fur collar! Mistakes travelling, what a great post idea! It makes me blush remembering some…dumb things said out of ignorance, not doing enough homework before i went and not even recognising famous landmarks that i was in front of, I could fill a few posts with this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I know. There are so many places I wish I could go back to, now that I’ve done more homework. It was like I was standing in front of some of the most important art/historical monuments in the history of human culture, thinking “that looks old.”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The coat with the fur collar? Not sure it was a big mistake. There’s something to be said for looking and feeling elegant, plus it probably saved having to pack an unsightly neck pillow to use on the plane! Not traveling more when younger (and more wild and crazy)? OK, but you’re all over it now! At my (much more advanced) age, I know so many people who put off traveling until their knees gave out and they didn’t want to go. You go, girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love how that fur collar now has a fan club!

      The first time I went to Naples I was scared to death and dodging traffic and expecting to get mugged every minute when I saw this woman, at least 75 years old, wearing a loaded backpack checking into a hostel and thought, “that’s me someday, when I’m finally cool.”

      Like

  9. I love your post! It´s really funny! and honest! Have fun traveling and come by in Peru 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you and of course I want to come to Peru!

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      1. 🙂 You should, it´s so beautiful here!!

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Totally with you on that last bit: the only regret is to not use as much time as one has in one’s life. To think of all the places I travelled to on work, and never stepped out to see things nearby, gives me the shivers today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At least you have a job that brings you cool places for work! I don’t travel much for work, but it seems to world comes to me through my job, which is a huge perk.

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  11. Great post! Not bringing snacks with me is a regret I’ve had many times before

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you mjcolbert. What are your favorite travel snacks?

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  12. Entertaining and practical.You are inspiring.Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you sidran–and you’ve inspired me to go to Tbilisi. Stay tuned!

      Like

  13. One mistake I won’t make again is to be reading a novel set in one foreign country while visiting another. It was surreal. Cambodia/Greece. I took The Old Man and the Sea on my recent trip to Cuba!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love it. And I would add, if you’re like me and have fear of flying, don’t read novels on the airplane that feature plane crashes in their plot lines….

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Biggest lesson I learned this month while flying down to Brazil is never to eat airline food again – severe food poisoning and still stuck on a plane for another ten hours, from now on it’s home made sandwiches for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry—that sounds awful! What airline was it? I do plan on bringing my own food for my next flight.

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      1. KLM. I’m not the type of person who kicks up a fuss but they didn’t even ask how I was feeling when leaving the plane which I found scandalous.

        Liked by 1 person

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