Hi guys – It’s Dad again, reporting live from beautiful Bali!! First off, I would like to thank the blog readers for the kind words and comments about my missed flight experience. Even though I did not get to fly first class as planned, I really enjoyed the Cathay Pacific experience.
As much as we hate ’em, mistakes are part of life, and sometimes wonderful memories (and blog posts) are created by them. Ironically, some of my greatest travel memories and stories are from mistakes, and believe me there were many over the course of the years; but from each and every one of them comes with a valuable lesson that has helped me in my future travels. Life works in funny ways, doesn’t it?
In this post you’ll find a list of my top 5 mistakes while traveling, along with the lessons I’ve learned from them. Feel free to share yours as well so we can continue to learn and inspire each other (and maybe even laugh a bit).
Mistake #1 – Illegally crossing borders in South America
A few years ago, my son and I traveled from NYC-Rio de Janiero-Iguazu Falls-Machu Picchu-NYC. Here’s how mistake #1 happened: we took a local bus from the Argentina side of the falls to the Brazilian side of the falls. When you cross borders, you’re required to get an exit stamp from the country you’re leaving and an entry stamp from the country you are now visiting. Sounds like common sense, right? Well, we stamped our passports out of Argentina and somehow forgot to get an entry stamp in Brazil. In essence, we found out that we crossed the border illegally, and literally had to plead with the intimidating customs officers and pray at the Brazilian airport to continue on our journey to Peru.
Lesson: Always double check the obvious – the entry and exit stamps on your passport. It also helps to learn how to speak the local language (related post), especially when pleading with foreign customs officers.
Mistake #2 – Wife getting pick-pocketed twice in one day.
Marie and I traveled to Spain, and she was pick-pocketed 2 times in one day. Yup – twice in one day. I’m sure you remember me sharing this story with you, but incase you missed it, check it out my previous blog post: Guest Post: Getting Pick-Pocketed Twice in One Day & Global Top 10 Pickpocketing Hot Spots.
Lesson: Always be aware of your surroundings, and remain vigilant at all times.
Mistake #3 – Accidentally taking someone else’s luggage
Ang and I traveled to Switzerland and Italy for her Sweet 16 present. We explored Switzerland independently and then jumped on a tour group for a few days while in Italy. For those who have been part of a tour group, you probably already know that everyone gets an identical commemorative carry-on/luggage piece to use while traveling on the tour (bad idea). When we left the tour group, it turned out that I mistakenly picked up someone else’s travel bag… and I didn’t notice until we were already on a train headed from Rome to Verona. To make matters worse, the wrong bag contained presciption drugs… A LOT of them, and it belonged to an elderly woman who was on the tour with us. With someone’s life potentionally on the line, I had to travel 7 hours one-way from Verona to Rome, standing on a crowded, local train on Easter Sunday to return the bag to her while Angelina stayed back and enjoyed Verona alone.
Lesson: Inspect luggage/carryon bags & make sure it’s yours!
Mistake #4 – My over-packing sister got stuck on the train
Here’s something that continues to baffle me: Why do the majority of women pack SO many bags when traveling? Mistake #4 happened when I was traveling with my sisters in Italy. They had so much luggage that I felt like I was a hired mule. With the amount of luggage we had on us, we figured out that the only way we could exit the train in time was to have one person stay on and pass the luggages through train window. That idea wasn’t so brilliant after all; my sister who was passing the luggage did not get off train on time, and we had to wait 4 hours at the train platform [hoping] for her return.
Lesson: Travel light AND travel with people who also travel light.
Mistake #5 – Missing my one and only International first class flight
Say hello to my most recent travel mistake. Just a few days ago I missed my first class flight to Hong Kong because of an innocent date/time mix-up on my behalf. Incase you haven’t caught the story yet, here it is: Dad Post: Goodbye Cathay Pacific First Class – I Missed My Flight.
Lesson: Check and recheck your flight itinerary, and make sure you’re 100% certain about the date and time, especially with midnight/early-morning flights!
What mistakes/funny stories do you have while traveling? Please feel free to share them as well.
Have fun and happy travels!