We aren’t perfect, and are bound to make some mistakes, big or small while traveling. The most important thing is that you learn from those mistakes and know how to avoid the same situation again. No matter how pretty some of our Instagram photos may look or how seamless our travels may seem, let it be known that there have been many mistakes made along the way. We research to avoid mistakes and hassles as much as possible, but sometimes the information isn’t there, we become careless, or we were dumb. Here are some of our top travel mistakes and what you can learn from them.
Our Top Travel Mistakes and What You Can Learn from Them
Not having any global currency
We learned this the hard way on an overnight train from Budapest to Bucharest. We had been traveling with the Eurail pass for three months in Europe. This means for most places you can just walk on the train sit in second class, and show the conductor your pass when he checks tickets. Except some trains require you to pay a reservation fee in addition to the pass. We had been in a rush and did not check to see if this was one of those trains. At about 2 a.m. the conductors finally came around and asked for our tickets. So we flashed our smiles and our Eurail passes, no Bueno. It was a €10 each, cash only. We had been traveling Hungary and Czech Republic and had no euro, no USD, basically no cash on us. So while getting yelled at in German/Hungarian, we were kicked off the train in the middle of nowhere Hungary at 2 a.m.
This one may have been our dumbest mistake yet. Always carry some backup cash on you! It doesn’t have to be a ton, but at least some to get you out of trouble if you are in it. It’s best to carry a global currency like €, $, or £ ..no one is going to accept your Mexican pesos unless you’re in Mexico.
Not giving somewhere a real chance
We arrived in Riga, Latvia with very few expectations although we had always wanted to travel the Baltics. After only FOUR days in the country, we concluded that people weren’t welcoming, and there wasn’t a whole lot of exciting stuff for us to see. We booked the next bus out of there and made our way south in hopes that Lithuania would be better.
Four days and we decided that we hated Riga? Looking back now, this was a huge mistake, we didn’t even give the city a fair chance! Could we really make a fair assumption on a place after spending half a week there? I have met many people who had a great time in Latvia, and sadly, we really can’t comment. From then on out we have tried to get to know a city a little better before we made assumptions about a place before escaping.
Not formulating your own opinions
A few years back on my first solo trip to Italy, I was told not to go to Naples. It was dangerous for women, dirty, and there was graffiti everywhere – because of this, I skipped Naples and headed south to Sicily. A few years later I went back to Italy and decided that I was most definitely going to the city known as the birthplace of pizza. Well, guess what? Naples was a little dirtier than Northern “pristine” Italy and it did have graffitied walls; however, the locals were friendly and I felt incredibly safe walking the streets late at night. Surprisingly, Naples ended up being one of my most favorite cities in Italy – and yes the pizza is incredible.
Never let the online world or other travelers sway your travel decisions. I’m not saying to go travel alone to Syria right now to defy the media (because that probably isn’t safe). But one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure, so if you want to go somewhere and do something then just do it!
Booking too long in one place
Sometimes you get somewhere and it is totally not what you expected but you are locked in because you booked a ton of time in advance. This happened to us recently in Ayia Napa, Cyprus. We knew we wanted to stay in the area for a week but for some ungodly reason, we booked 7 days at one single place. Upon arrival the accommodation was…uh… less than desirable for the price range. There was a roach infestation and a slew of other problems, it wasn’t a jail cell and the place wasn’t terrible for a one night stay, but a whole week was going to be rough. We tried to leave after one day, but the establishment refused to refund us for the next 6, so we bit our tongues and stayed the whole 7 days.
We started booking only 2-night stays at all places after this episode. That way you can extend the booking if you love it, or leave if you hate it. Unless you’re staying at a some 5-star resort, I recommend starting off like this so you don’t get trapped into a shitty place like we did.
Being too lazy to go see that mountain/monument/park/whatever
While visiting Turkey back in 2013, we stayed in the coastal city of Izmir. Izmir is only one hour away from the ancient city of Ephesus. But for some reason (laziness) we didn’t go to the UNESCO World Heritage site when we were there. Two years later and we were still kicking ourselves for being so close, but not making it there. We didn’t make it to Ephesus because we wanted to sleep in. It’s embarrassing really, but, thankfully, we had a chance to return in 2015 and make up for lost times. When you are presented with an opportunity to see something incredible. Do it.
As we continue to travel more, I have no doubt that this list will continue to grow. Tell me some of your travel mistakes! What have you learned along the road?