Want to avoid major travel blunders? Check out a collection of travelers’ scariest stories – “Close to death”.
One of the best things about traveling is experiencing different cultures. With that often comes different languages which can be truly interesting but also challenging. On a recent outing in the north of Spain, I was having lunch with some friends and wanted to ask for some olive oil to have with my bread. I bravely attempted to ask the waiter but instead of saying the Spanish word for “oil”, I said the word for “sprain”. Needless to say, the waiter was very confused and my friends were laughing hysterically. How to avoid: Try to learn at least a few words of the native language for the country that you are visiting. Don’t assume that everyone will speak English, carry a phrase book or have access to a translating app while you travel.
9. Painful Sunburn
A gorgeous day on the beach can often lead you to forget all your worries, including reapplying sunscreen. During my backpacking trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, I made this exact mistake and ended up painfully sunburned. For the rest of my time, I had to stay covered up and out of the sun which is not something you want to do on a beach holiday. How to avoid: Don’t scrimp on the sunscreen. Apply everyday before you go out into the sun and reapply as directed. It’s not worth the cost of spending the rest of your trip in the shade.
8. Border Crossing Confusion
Border crossings can be confusing enough and with the added challenge of a foreign language, it is easy to make mistakes. I am embarrassed to admit that I paid for my tourist visa twice when I entered into Cambodia. In my defense I was extremely sleep deprived after a big night out. That extra $20 USD would have gone along way in a country that sells fifty cent beers. How to avoid: Read about the border crossing process from other travelers online by googling “border crossing in ___”. This will give you a sense of what to expect and what you will need to do so you can avoid making mistakes.
7. No place to stay
Traveling without a plan can be fun and very freeing. However it also means that transport and accommodation can be booked up before you’ve had a chance to secure your place. Recently I took a last minute trip to the south of Germany. It wasn’t until after I booked the ticket that I found out there was no hostels in the town I was visiting and that the hotels were all quite expensive. Luckily, I managed to find a Couchsurfing host at the last minute, which totally saved my trip. How to avoid: Consider booking at least a few days ahead, especially if it is the high season and there is a high demand in the city. In some locations you will have no problem with finding accommodation last-minute, however make sure you have a couple of back up options and a general idea of where they are located. Read our top 6 tips for finding travel accommodation on a budget.
It can be difficult to know what to pack for a new location and all too easy to over-pack. On my first trip to the U.S.A., I over-packed and then had to suffer the consequences of lugging my bulging bag around for two months. How to avoid: It is always better to under-pack then over-pack. Ideally, traveling with a carry on sized bag will make it easier to cart your stuff around with the added bonus of avoiding checking a bag. For packing tips with a carry-on bag, check out my packing lists for cold weather travel and warm weather travel.
5. Getting sick
After months of planning and saving, it can be exhilarating to finally go on that trip that you have been waiting for. It is so tempting to go out each night with those great people you met at the hostel or on the free walking tour. But be careful that you don’t burn yourself out. Whilst on a group tour, I made the mistake of staying out late every single night. Then the following mornings, having to drag my sorry self onto the tour bus. Inevitably I got sick and was bed bound for two days, unable to use my pre-purchased ticket for Universal Studios. How to avoid: Don’t go too hard too fast. Have the mentally that it is a marathon, not a sprint. After all, you can drink in your home town anytime but you won’t have the same opportunity to go to Universal Studios. Also if you are traveling where there local water is not safe to drink, make sure that you are purchasing pure bottled water. For more remote destinations consider investing in a water filter or iodine tablets.
Getting injured sucks. Getting injured while oversees can be an absolute nightmare. Last year I hurt myself twice whilst traveling. Once I fell backwards while climbing up some rocks of a ruin. Luckily, I avoided a serious injury. Then on my trip to Anchorage, Alaska I slipped on ice and badly hurt the index finger on my right hand. How to avoid: Take it slow and steady. Watch where you are walking. If you are going on a trip that includes hiking or climbing ruins, make sure to pack appropriate footwear. Beware of slippery surfaces and hold the handrail when taking stairs in icy climates.
3. Missing a flight
When it comes to taking transportation, travelers can be divided into two groups: punctual and tardy. However it is not always in a backpacker’s control and often transport delays can lead to missed connections. I fall into the tardy travel category, which I like to believe is because I am an optimist. During my recent backpacking trip around Europe, I missed many buses and trains due to oversleeping or just poor judgement of the time it would take to get there. The most costly of my mistakes, was when I missed my flight from New York City to Edinburgh. How to avoid: Don’t be a tardy traveler (like me). Research the time it will take you to get from your current location to the airport, bus or train station. Include plenty of time for delays, traffic, queues and border control.
2. Losing a passport
A passport is one of the most valuable things that a traveler will carry with them. Losing a passport can mean being stranded in a country until an emergency passport is issued. This also leads to additional costs for the replacement passport and travel disruption. Whilst living in New York city, I was out on the town using my passport as identification and lost it. I applied for a replacement passport at the Australian Consulate-General which involved a hefty fee and a ton of paperwork. I also had to cancel my upcoming trips to Toronto and Montreal with no refund. How to avoid: Keep your passport in a secure place at all times and avoid taking it out with you. Most countries will accept a foreign license as identification, however check for that specific country what their requirements are as it can vary from country to country.
1. Being robbed
Even the most seasoned travelers will either know someone who has been robbed or been robbed them-self at some point during their travels. Depending on what is taken, the repercussions could be as little as a financial loss or much more serious. I had my bag stolen once during a beach party at Coney Island, New York and my wallet stolen in my own home city of Brisbane, Australia. Both times I was not paying attention and let my guard down. How to avoid: It is so important to remain on alert and conscious of your surroundings at all times. Take the time to research your destination to become familiar with any known tourist scams or frequent crime areas. Consider getting a wallet with a chain attached to your bag.
All photos in this article, except the feature image, are the were sourced from Pixabay and are free of copyrights under Creative Commons CC0.
Pin it for the next adventure!
What are some of your biggest travel mistakes? Tell us about it below!
And if you liked the post – share it with your friends on social media.