I know it’s a shocker, but news flash: I’m not perfect. I don’t have it all together even when it comes to travel. I’ve made some travel mistakes, but I’m learning from them. And I want to share with you some of my biggest travel fails because the travel blogger messes up, too. Oh, and gets lost, like, a lot. Here’s a list of my biggest travel fails so you can learn from my mistakes or at least empathize with me.
Mistake #1: Overlooking logistics for price
It was a great deal; I’ll make it work. A cheap train ticket to Montpellier with a departure before 6 a.m. isn’t glam, but I liked the low price. What I didn’t think through was that the metro station didn’t open early enough for me to get to the train station. Oh, and I took the wrong metro line. And alas, I missed my train and had a meltdown right there and then. Think through every single step in between Point A and Point B. You’ll save time, money and a panic attack.
Lesson learned: Be extra sure you’ve thought through all logistics or pay the higher price for convenience’s sake.
Mistake #2: Not allowing wiggle room
I’m Type A to the core and feel naked without my ban.do planner. If you know me, you know I’m a structured, routine-oriented creature of habit. And while there are some parts of travel that should be planned to a T such as logistics (see mistake #1), not every minute can be planned. And you know what? It shouldn’t. Allow time to wander and not have to rush through the Louvre, not skip dessert, not hurry to return the rental car. On our last night in Rome, our group decided we’d make one last gelato stop and braved the rain. It was spontaneous and unplanned, and it ended up being some of the best gelato of the trip.
Lesson learned: Have a good idea of an itinerary, but leave time to go off the beaten path.
Mistake #3: Expecting it to be perfect
We build travel up, and while I’ll never say it’s overrated, I will say we build it up to be something it’s not. Travel is still life, which means it’s not perfect. Take travel for what it is: it’s an opportunity to take a break from the typical pace of life, to indulge in small pleasures, to have your breath stolen, to experience other parts of the world. On my recent trip to Paris, we hopped on the metro, and it was my fault that we went the wrong direction. It wasn’t anything that couldn’t be fixed, but it cost us about an hour of our day. It’s so easy to get flustered, but it’s these times that you have to remind yourself that it’s not a utopia, mistakes will be made. Yes, there are things you can plan for such as verifying what time the metro station opens, but also not every moment is pure, unadulterated bliss.
Lesson learned: Have realistic expectations and don’t require perfection to enjoy yourself.
Mistake #4: Thinking my problems wouldn’t follow me
In anticipation of a summer in Toulouse, I kept telling myself, Oh when I’m in France, things will be better. When I’m in France, this won’t matter because I have an epic view. All the hard things will fade away when I get on a plane. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Going on a trip will teach you about yourself, those around you, what’s important to you, the list goes on. But it will not and cannot take away problems from home or problems within.
Lesson learned: Running from problems doesn’t make them vanish.
There’s no “perfect” or “ideal” trip. Mistakes will be made, bad weather will happen, trains will be delayed. C’est la vie. But there are a few things you can do to make sure your trip runs somewhat smoothly: taking care of logistics, having reasonable expectations and not over-scheduling. Take a deep breath because so many adventures await you.
For more stories, mistakes and travel tips, check out my book, 40 Ways to Travel Better.