First of all, I need to say how grateful I am to the travel blogging community that I have come to know and love. Female Travel Bloggers and the Twitter #TravelTribe have been so helpful and supportive in my travel blogging journey. I would be lost without their help! This post comes as a collaboration among some of the wonderful ladies in these communities. Everyone always seems to have a travel fail story of their own, so I thought it would be fun to put together a collection! You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll be glad it didn’t happen to you. But most of all, you’ll enjoy reading some of our worst travel moments!
My favorite travel fail is the day I learned (the really, really hard way) to never let your important belongings out of sight while traveling. When I was living in Madrid, I decided to take a trip out to Seville for the weekend. I packed all the essentials: my favorite comfy clothes, my toiletries, laptop, etc. It was an okay weekend – Seville is beautiful, but too touristy for me, and I was excited to go back home.
If you’ve never taken a bus in Spain, I’ll explain how luggage works. Available for use are the over-the-head bins, and the “trunk” on the side of the bus – kind of like an airplane. You’ll approach the bus with all your luggage, and your bus driver will decide where you put your belongings, in relation to where they think everything will fit. In this trip, I was told to put my backpack in the trunk. Okay, that’s fine.
This was a long trip. Like, 8-9 hours of a trip. We took a couple stops for meals, bathroom breaks, and for the driver to switch. The trunk was opened so we could access our things during this breaks.
Once we arrived back in Madrid, I went to the trunk to get my backpack. I couldn’t see it, but I figured it had been buried underneath everyone else’s luggage. So I waited. And waited. Eventually, there was no arguing: someone had stolen my luggage with all of my comfy clothes, all my toiletries, and my laptop. In a panic, I went to the bus driver and exclaimed that my things had been stolen. You think he cared? You’d think incorrectly. In the end, I had to file a police report, outlining everything of value that had been stolen, and had to go to the store the next day before I was able to shower, brush my teeth, or wear underwear.
Safe to say, I’m a little more conscious about where my luggage goes now!
My biggest travel fail was on my bus from Brussels to Paris. I booked a Flix Bus for 10 euro from Brussels to Paris at 2:25. It was perfect timing, I would be able to enjoy the morning in Brussels and grab something for lunch before my long trip to Paris. I showed up at 2:05pm after having to run almost a mile with my bags because of construction and a moved bus stop. I arrived and there was a large crowd waiting for the bus already. The bus attendant comes out and announces they are now loading 2:30 Paris bus, and not my 2:25 bus. I ask a couple people and no one else has a 2:25 bus to Paris. Once the bus is loaded up, I tried to ask the attendant (who spoke French and limited English) where my bus would be loading. He’s looking at my ticket, trying to scan it, and the machine keeps denying it, but he knows nothing about a 2:25 bus.
Finally, he looks at my ticket and realized what’s happened. He points at my ticket and says “2:25” then he points at his watch and says “14:30”. That’s right, I had booked a bus for 2:25 in the morning and showed up 12 hours late!! Luckily, there was a few seats left on the bus so I was able to buy a new ticket, but this time it cost me 40 euros. Lesson learned, check if the ticket is displayed on a 12 or 24 hour clock so you don’t show up 12 hours late and have to buy another ticket for 4x the original price.
On a road trip back to Brisbane, we specially made a detour to go to this lookout as we were told it offers incredible views. Well, although the platform was well-maintained, it didn’t make it to the top of our Australia Bucket List!
I’ve been traveling solo for years now and I can tell you that you never stop making mistakes. Some are cringe-inducing but most are funny…well, they are funny later when you’re looking back. I wish I could say eventually you will become an expert traveler and you’ll breeze through every destination but I can’t. Because you won’t. But you can still have an amazing time, make wonderful memories and have a bunch of stories to tell. Here are some of my top favorite travel fails:
So I was trying to tell the restaurant owner that I didn’t want pork in my pasta. I keep repeating what I thought meant “no pork” in Italian. When he came back, he handed a confused me a plate of assorted cheeses. I expressed my confusion to my tablemates and they informed me that I wasn’t telling him “I don’t want pork”; I was actually very emphatically saying “I want cheese!”
After weeks of teaching myself Korean, I decided to attempt to have a conversation with the taxi driver. I was asking him a question in Korean to which he kept giving me a strange look and going ”….um…yes…?” Turns out I wasn’t asking him if he spoke English. I was asking him if I spoke English. Yeah, I clearly need to keep studying.
It wasn’t until I started traveling that I got introduced to the whole ‘public transportation’ thing. My first times riding a bus and the subway were while I was backpacking and sadly it took a few tries for me to get it right. While I was in Dublin I took the bus and got dropped off at Kilmainham Gaol. After my tour, I was ready to go back to my hostel so I cluelessly walked out and boarded the same bus dropping people off at Kilmainham. Apparently, you’re supposed to cross the street and catch the bus going in the opposite direction, or you’ll end up alone on the outskirts of an Irish suburb. Learning new things every day.
The Tube was a monster I was just not ready to face. I had never ridden the subway alone and map just looked like a bunch of squiggly lines. I gave it a try, got lost and decided I was never doing that again. My only option was to walk everywhere but, I don’t know if you this, London is BIG. I spent hours walking around in shoes chosen for cuteness, not comfort. By the end of it, I wanted to amputate my feet.
We used Priceline in the past, with excellent results, so as we typed in the info for a hotel stay in Denver, we had no worries. Mr. Shatner would not steer us wrong.
Not requiring anything fancy, Priceline’s Denver pick seemed on point. The hotel was outside of the downtown area, which worked well since we had activities planned outside of Denver. The hotel offered a free shuttle that dropped guests off Downtown. Great, we won’t have to worry about city driving or paying for parking. Finally, it had one of our favorite hotel amenities, free breakfast.
We approach the hotel’s entrance, where we are greeted by a smelly, lingering, haze. The haze clings to us and follows us into the lobby.
After a quick check –in, we board the elevator with two guys who have a luggage cart piled mile high with cases of beer (this will be a common sight). Clearly, they’re going to have a fun filled evening.
Though the lobby has enough space to disperse the stoner smell, it’s not so in the elevator. The aroma is intense. Later we surmise that if you rode the elevator up and down long enough, you’d probably get a pretty good contact high.
In our room, the hotel has made a noticeable attempt to cover up the smell of cannabis with an air freshener fragrance that can only be described as, mildewed birthday cake.
On the surface, the room appears serviceable, but when we take an in-depth look, the room is more like a neglected, abandoned, child. I am certain that the only attention it receives is a quick change of sheets and a few Clorox wipe swipes in the bathroom. Strange, it’s as if the hotel is banking on the fact that patrons aren’t going to inspect their rooms too closely.
Breakfast… or Not
In the morning we go to breakfast. Now I’m not picky when it comes to free breakfast, give me a bowl of Fruit Loops and a half- decent cup of coffee and I’m a happy girl. I pour myself a bowl of cereal and fill a cup with brown sludge I guess is supposed to be coffee. After taking a bite of my cereal, I decide that there must be a factory somewhere that accepts recycled cardboard. They then run the cardboard through a special machine that cuts it into either flakes or Os. The hotel didn’t even spring for real milk. The milk is most definitely powdered. All of the fruit is canned so I can’t even fall back on my I’ll-just- have-a- banana. The coffee is undrinkable. We do something we have never done in our travels. We skip free breakfast for the rest of our stay. Weird, it’s as if the hotel expects guests to be so hungry, they won’t care what the food tastes like.
While waiting for the shuttle, we notice that the parking lot is covered in paintballs. There is much deliberation on our part as to where they came from and how you could accidentally spill that many paintballs across such a large space. I’m sure someone in the hotel has an interesting story to tell. When we walk to our car for the rest of the week, we must foot dodge paint and balls.
The hotel’s shuttle takes us downtown. The seats are so worn, I can feel each individual spring saying hello to my posterior.
The other passengers chatter away about cannabis. We learn which places in Denver have the best cannabis, the best ways to ingest cannabis, and other great locations to take cannabis vacations. It is quite an informative ride.
Not Our Scene
Now we have no feelings of condemnation towards our fellow guests. Cannabis just isn’t our thing, and what we discover is that Priceline offered us, and we unwittingly accepted, a stay at what is lovingly referred to as a 4:20 hotel. Apparently, most Denver accommodations are not cool with guests smoking in or around their hotels. There are however a handful of hotels that are not only okay with it, but enthusiastically welcome those coming for a cannabis holiday. It all makes sense now. The free shuttle exists to make sure guests are safe and don’t drive. Expecting that guests will be high most of their stay, there is no need for meticulously clean rooms or real milk. We are hotel outliers. Non-partakers in a partakers world.
Though still not the worst hotel we’ve stayed at, that award goes to a Red Carpet Inn, that we were pretty certain got its name from the number of murders that surely occurred there, unintentionally ending up staying at “The Wake and Bake Hotel,” as we’ve come to call it, was a definite travel fail.
– by my good friend Stephanie (who also designed my logo!)
During my junior year of college I was thrilled to be awarded an opportunity to spend Spring Break in Italy for a study abroad course. Wow, great! Right? Well it was great.. eventually. Our class began with the start of Spring semester, with lots of planning ahead before our trip. After the first day introductions, a girl in my class approached me and asked if I’d like to book tickets with her so we’d each have a travel buddy. I happily agreed, filled with anxiety about my first trip out of the country. We booked our tickets, attended class, and learned all about the wonderful world of Medieval and Renaissance art in Italy. The anticipation grew.
The Night Before Departure
I went to work that evening as usual, my bags packed and awaiting my 12PM departure the following day. However, my phone went off halfway through my shift with an alert from Delta – my flights had been cancelled. Begin panicking. A storm in NYC had caused all JFK bound flights to be cancelled. After many tearful phone calls with my professor, my flight buddy, and my father, I finally received notification that Delta had rebooked me – for 9AM the next day.
The Original Day of Departure
Obviously very upset, I planned a day with friends to take my mind off of my missed day in Italy. We saw a movie that evening, and the anticipation kept building for my flight the next morning. My phone died during the movie, and when we got home I found missed calls and texts from my classmates with similar itineraries that their connecting flights from Germany to Italy had disappeared. How is that even possible? They were just gone. No notification from Delta, nothing. Their phone line stated that there was a 3-hour wait. I couldn’t wait 3 hours, I was supposed to be boarding a plane in 7 hours and I couldn’t get stuck in Germany. I headed to the Rochester airport. It was 11:30PM and there was no one there except one woman in baggage claim.
The Baggage Claim Angel
I approached this woman with obvious distress and she heard out my story. She found out that Lufthansa pilots had gone on strike. She called Delta headquarters and attempted to find me and my flight buddy new flights. There were none until Monday. I started to cry and she got flustered, telling me she would cry too if I didn’t stop (she was really so very sweet). After an hour and a half on the phone she found us new flights – at 2PM we would travel Buffalo to JFK, JFK to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Rome, and finally Rome to Venice. This was going to be a 26-hour commute, but I would’ve taken anything at that point.
My flight buddy’s wonderful mother drove us from Rochester to Buffalo where we boarded our first flight – late. We made it to JFK to find another late flight. We landed in Amsterdam 9 hours later, and after 3 hours in line for customs we were in the home stretch. I’d lost my travel pillow and I hadn’t slept, but I knew we could make it. We boarded the plane to Rome. A last minute gate change had us nearly miss our last flight but we made it with mere minutes to spare. At last we were in Venice. A 2 hour water taxi ride brought us up the canal and we stumbled towards our hotel. After devouring an entire pizza I welcomed a much needed sleep and the adventure awaiting me for the rest of break. But oh what an adventure I had already had.
Do you have a travel fail story you’d like to share? Leave me a message in the comments or send me an email!