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?
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.
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…..
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.
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.”
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.
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.