Lost baggage, missed flights, delayed trains. I am pretty sure you also have some hilarious yet scary travel fails on your account, don’t you?
I wanna tell you a few stories about my own most awful and painful travel planning mistakes. Some of them were only potentially horrible in consequences. But others were grave and embarrassing traveling fails.
There is, of course, a whole list of worst travel planning mistakes that you can do during any journey. But I always say it’s good to read the stories of others and avoid their bloopers.
No shame in this post. I uncover my worst mistakes made on the road. Enjoy, laugh, and remember the lessons!
This post is a part of the Travel Planning Series.
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#1 Not purchasing online tickets and skipping the great gem in Spain
Number one on my own list of travel planning mistakes could happen to any of you.
I was traveling in Andalusia with my friends in the Fall of 2017. One of the most wonderful places we were all excited to visit was the Alhambra complex in Granada. One of my friends was especially happy to go there cause it was her dream since students’ times on the interior design department.
Unfortunately, we were too carefree if it comes to plan this trip. We simply appeared on the site around 10 AM, totally relaxed, when we found out that there was a daily visitors limit for the most significant compartments of the whole complex – the Nasrid Palaces.
The tickets for visiting those sophisticated rooms, thereby the most magnificent treasure of the region, were already sold out for that day. We needed to swallow this fail and please with the rest of the fortress (which anyway was incredible!).
Remember: For famous spots in your itinerary, always check online if there are no visit limits before going there.
#2 Not checking exactly where the destination point was in Montenegro
When I was sailing with friends from Croatia to Montenegro we had a really great time visiting the coast cities. In Kotor, we found charming postcards with the pictures of a lovely island with the note “greetings from Budva”.
We immediately asked our skipper to sail there although we didn’t plan it before. In the beginning, he refused, assuming that we will not like the climate of Budva’s nightlife.
Joking, we threatened him with a revolt on board, so he finally agreed to take us to Budva’s port.
And you know what? He was right if it comes to the nightlife.
The Old Town of Budva itself was pretty, but the loud music and lots of party animals did not fit our tastes.
Anyway, the worst thing was that we couldn’t see the charming island from the postcard nowhere. The next morning we must sail away early to meet our charter deadline back in Dubrovnik. Disappointed, we looked for the island on the map.
And get angry about not doing it before. The island, actually, was not even located in Budva! It was delighting toursists on the other side of the whole bay. The postcard apparently had the word “Budva” on it because it was the most recognizable town in this region.
Unfortunately, that was what fooled us.
Lesson learned: Never trust pretty images on the road. Always check the map and basic information about your dream destination.
#3 Relying too much on roaming and not ensuring the bank account access in the Caribbean
This was the biggest mistake I made while planning my two-month travel to the Caribbean.
I ignored the information found on the Internet that my Polish phone operator had some signal problems on the islands. And I said to myself “who cares about the phone. I need only some WiFi to connect with the world, right?”.
And WiFi was provided, indeed. But I didn’t predict one case.
Two-factor authorization for money transfers on my bank account. To order any transfer in online banking I needed to confirm it with a code sent by SMS to my phone number. And I was unable to do it cause I had no signal!
Luckily my bank card was still working but I was unable to make any online purchases like car rental for instance or load money to my Revolut account.
It took 3 weeks for consultants from my phone operator customer service to fix the issue and give me access to local phone networks. So luckily everything ended up with no problems.
But even so, I was a bit terrified that in any case, I didn’t have the full access to my money. You can read the full story by clicking here.
To remember: Always be sure to be able to access any of your accounts with two-factor authorization. Alternatively, add other ways of your identity approval.
#4 Discharged battery in the rented car’s key just before the flight in Spain
This mistake could cost me and my family lots of money.
When we started our great vacation in Spain in 2017, our first stop after coming to this country was the car rental agency.
We booked a big van and get lucky enough that the company ran out of standard models. So we get the luxurious one. You know this type, where even doors open automatically and with grace.
It didn’t have a standard door key lock, but a remote opening. When we were checking the car in the company I noticed that the board screen was showing the low key battery alert. I mentioned it to a car agency employee but she only said that in any case, they will bring us spare keys.
That was our mistake.
Everything was fine until the last two days when we noticed the distance of remote opening decreased significantly.
On the very last day, my family had an early morning flight back to Poland. Luckily we were able to open the car and get to the car rental agency near the airport located almost 1-hour drive away from our accommodation.
And imagine yourself that was the last time when the car key worked. After locking it on the agency’s parking, we were not able to unlock it again. It was so early in the morning that the car rental company’s office was still closed. We returned the car to the parking guard. When he wanted to note the amount of fuel in the car he was not able to open the vehicle again!
Luckily, we purchased the full car insurance so he let us go to the airport without checking the car condition. But imagine what it would be if the key got totally discharged before we’d come to the airport.
There would be absolutely no chance to catch the flight.
Lesson learned: When anything worries you about your rented car, immediately report it to the car rental company and ask for action. Even if it’s such a silly thing as the key battery.
#5 Not checking the bus connection to the guest house in Tenerife
I left my most epic travel planning fail for dessert.
In 2018 I was traveling to Tenerife. Together with Mariusz, we treated this island as our potential digital nomad’s destination.
And sure, the island was great. But the whole trip was one big travel fail.
Besides the fact that I get the flu and was semiconscious during the whole stay, and had a knee contusion so we couldn’t take any bigger trekkings, we made a few travel planning mistakes.
The biggest one was on day one. Let me tell you the whole story.
First of all, there was a storm on the Canary Islands where we meant to land by the plane. So our flight was redirected to Morocco where we were waiting almost 2 hours for the weather to calm down.
When we finally landed in Tenerife, it was a bit late already (around 9 PM). And it was then when I noticed there was no single night bus to our first hotel which was located on the opposite side of the island.
We decided to make a last-minute booking for a small room a few kilometers away from the airport. We booked it via Booking.com, paid for it and caught one of the last buses in that direction.
While almost on place, we received a text message from the pension owner… that she was not there that night. She promised to refund the money and wished us a good night.
So we didn’t have any other option than coming back to the airport. Taking a taxi to our original guest house would be expensive as hell because of the distance, so we spend the whole night on the cold airport’s floor. All the seats were occupied because of the weather issues and canceled flights.
Around 5 AM we took the first morning bus going to the Tenerfie’s capital where we ate breakfast and caught another bus, going directly to our booked guest house. Before 9 AM we finally checked in and get some rest.
The lesson from this story: never assume you’ll be able to catch the last evening bus. And always have a plan B.
But by the way, if you would ever go to Tenerife, I highly recommend the guest house where we stayed, even if it’s hard to reach with night buses! Casa Antonia is an affordable place but has a unique character. We totally loved it! Click here and check the Casa Antonia’s reviews and prices on Booking.com.
Well, this way you uncovered my most hopeless travel planning fails. I learned something from each of these stories. And I hope you’ll remember them too!
And now tell me the truth! What was your most awful and embarrassing travel mistake? Share your story in the comment, I’m thrilled to hear that!
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Dominika is a founder of Sunday In Wonderland and she recently switched her life to be local independent. She aims to travel the world and admire all of its wonders. She is much focused on sustainable life, self-development and making this world a better place.