I don’t care what anyone says, everyone makes mistakes. We are human after all and everyone is fallible, especially when travelling.
For the past three years both Paul and I have worked in the travel industry and each summer we see customers arrive for their long awaited two week holiday and it seems that, for many of them, they have simply left their brains at home. For many, simple tasks become arduous and their normal ability to function appears to have left the building.
But why is this?
I have read several studies in the past that highlight the fact that just like our bodies need a break so to do our brains. If you think about it for a minute, for the majority of people a working week is far more than just a simple 9-5 routine. You need to factor in the time it takes to travel to work, the blips in the day that see our stress-levels rise considerably, the lunch-time meetings and then just to top it off the extra work we all complete in the evenings just to try and keep afloat. No wonder our brains go into overdrive.
Then you have the really work-obsessed that can’t help but take their work on holiday with them. These are the people that try to insist probably more to themselves than their families that they are only taking the laptop and work phone with them in case of emergencies when in reality they will be spending at least 2-3 hours a day relaying information back to the office so that they are not completely swamped with work when they get back.
And do you know what… I use to be that person. The person that would work 60+ hours a week even though I was contracted to only do 37; I was the one that had a two hour commute each day meaning that my working day started at 6am and didn’t finish until 8pm; it was me who would sit on my laptop long into the evening trying to catch up with work I couldn’t complete in my normal working hours and it was me who took my laptop and phone on holiday until one day my long suffering husband told my line manager exactly what he thought whilst we were on holiday in Mexico.
When you therefore add all of this up it’s really not surprising that by the time the annual two week holiday comes around your brain is too exhausted and mistakes are easily made.
As I mentioned before, we all make mistakes, even the well-travelled among us, but do we learn from them?
5 Of Our Biggest Travel Mistakes So Far…
It is fair to say that we travel a lot. We are both extremely thankful that our lifestyle affords us the ability to get out there and visit different countries but that’s not to say we haven’t made mistakes in the past.
#1 We Always Over Pack
Yes, I know. Today we mostly travel for a living and therefore you would think that by now we would have mastered the art of light-travel. Not a chance. The only time I can honestly say that I was proud of us both was when we visited Thailand. We allocated ourselves one rucksack each – albeit a very large rucksack – and agreed that if we could not carry it we couldn’t take it.
Tam with her Osprey Farpoint 70 backpack. It was perfect for our month long tour around Thailand. The detachable 15ltr daypack was ideal when touring temples or walking along the beach. If your looking for a bag and don’t mind ,on along trip, the occasional visit to the laundry, then this backpack’s for you!
If however we are simply getting on a flight for a weekend trip somewhere or heading off in the car for a couple of nights we seem to pack enough for a month.
The problem with this is that not only do we end up with far too much; it also ends up costing us if we are not careful. Gone are the days of cheap flights with free luggage allowances remember so now each time we go just a kilo over our limit we go into panic overdrive, hoping that we will not be asked to weight our bags or challenged about whether or not our carry-on bag is actually the right size specified by that particular airline.
Simply put, our brains go to sleep when we are packing and rather than thinking about our outfits and what we really need to try to cram our entire wardrobe into a pathetically small suitcase in the hope that we will get away with in.
#2 Using Water From a Tap
Ok, so this one doesn’t apply to everywhere we travel, and I have to say if one more person asks me whether the water in Italy is safe to drink I think I might scream but, that doesn’t mean I haven’t fallen foul to my own blasé approach occasionally.
Every time I think about our honeymoon to Cuba an image of me being violently ill comes flooding back. I thought I had done everything right. We had been warned before travelling that Cuba was a fantastic place to visit but that their water system, whilst modernised could still affect a Western’s stomach, so obviously we took extra care.
Perhaps we were too careful. I personally didn’t eat salad from the buffet in case it had been washed in tap water, I only drank bottled water and I never had ice in any of my drinks. However, I didn’t engage my brain and forgot to use bottled water for brushing my teeth. It was only after an elderly couple suggested this to us that it even crossed my mind. Trust me thought…lesson was definitely learnt on that occasion.
#3 It It Easy to Forget that Money is Dirty
I remember reading an article in a British newspaper a few years back that highlighted just how dirty money can be and it alarmed me, and it seems that it is not just the British bank note.
Imagine then, going to a country that has lower standards of hygiene and handling their money. It really isn’t surprising that I become ill off the back of one of these trips and I have to say that I now travel everywhere with a small bottle of sanitizer gel in my bag and use it after each transaction I make.
#4 Failing to Research a Location Properly
Everyone, at some point has done this. We see a fantastic deal for a trip away and book it without really researching it beforehand. With the internet now at our fingertips, lack of research really should be a thing of the past but I sometimes feel that people are wowed by the photos they see online which don’t necessarily reflect reality.
Some years back now, Paul had booked a surprise trip for us to Paris only to be informed that our travel insurance would not cover us because of the rioting that was taking place across the city. With doubt therefore quickly setting in we made a rash decision and changed our flights heading instead to Milan. What a mistake. Yes, they have a beautiful Duomo where you can wander the rooftops and see the city from above but for us that was about it. We are not really shoppers you see and therefore struggled to find things that we wanted to do.
In hindsight, there was probably many things we could do but at that particular time, our lack of time meant we didn’t really do any research before heading off and found therefore the city lacking. What a shame when so many people, time and time again, tell me how wonderful Milan is.
#5 Leaving Our Driving License Back at the Hotel
Ok, so this one was really stupid I’ll admit it but we did hire a scooter in Thailand and then Paul forgot to take his license out with him; a silly mistake that cost us the grand total of 250 Baht. In reality the fine amounted to less than £6 but it was the inconvenience of then having to turn around to return to our accommodation in order to pick it up so that we didn’t get stopped again.
Had that been in Europe or America though – what would the cost have been? I shudder at the thought.
Each mistake we make luckily we learn from (Well apart from the packing issues we both still have) and thankfully we have had no major failings whilst travelling so far, but we also know that we have been lucky and that at any point our luck could run out and one of us could find ourselves in a hospital; we could be facing long delays at the airport; or, we could end up losing something like our passports.
And, I know we are not alone. Looking at this infographic created by Grand European Travel it would seem that there are many people out there that have made a mistake or two whilst travelling.
What travel mistakes have you made? Have you learnt from these mistakes or do you find yourself repeating them time and time again?