It Isn’t All Roses: 5 Travel Fails & Lessons

It Isn’t All Roses: 5 Travel Fails & Lessons



What happened: On a direct flight from Athens to Dulles (~ 12 hours) I sat in the middle of the middle row. Needing to cross two people on either side of me, getting up and about was not an enjoyable process for anyone. Better yet, a little girl sat directly in front of me (seen here) and wanted to play peek-a-boo the entire flight. Multiple times I woke up to find her staring at me.

The lesson: For long haul flights bring a sleep mask. This little fabric can make or break a flight. Check-in online as soon as you are able, typically 24 hours in advance, and aim for an aisle or window seat. Noise canceling headphones are a bonus.


What happened: Using an adapter instead of a converter, I plugged my straightener in the wall of my Aunt’s house in UK and began skimming a magazine as I ran the straightener through my hair. It wasn’t until I smelled the burning of hair (a horrible stench) that I realized my straightener was melting itself and my hair at the same time. For 3 weeks I had to wear a ponytail because my crunchy hair would do nothing else. When I returned to the States I had to get the whole thing chopped off.

The lesson: Know the difference between an adapter and a converter. Here is a helpful article from REI all about it.



What happened: In a rush to get to my gate, I accidentally spilled hot tea all over my hand and arm. I let out a yelp and dropped the entire cup on the ground. The restaurant thankfully gave me burn cream and wrapped it but I couldn’t help but feel like an idiot.

The lesson: Slow it down. You’ll make it to the flight. If there’s a chance you won’t, don’t run with hot liquids. (Yes, I agree, it’s something I should have remembered from 2nd grade, along with not running near the pool.) A lot of people get anxiety at the airport or train station. There’s a whirl of activity and it can be overwhelming. Do your best to focus on what actually matters, getting to the right gate or platform, then consider snacks and people watching.


What happened: I used TripAdvisor to find a meeting point for my coworker and I in Spain. It turns out that the TripAdvisor map was completely wrong and the bar was located in another town 40 miles away. We didn’t link up until almost 4 hours later after we both found wifi.

The lesson: When designating meet-up locations do not use TripAdvisor or arbitrarily pick a small pub or bar. Chains like Starbucks or McDonalds are ideal, they’re small enough to find someone (versus a giant train station) and have reliable websites identifying their exact locations.



What happened: I was craving ice cream so I asked the clerk at the train station in Ronda, Spain for “heladeria” (meaning ice cream parlor, not ice cream). Blank stare. “Leche Frio?” (meaning cold milk, still not ice cream). Blank stare. Giving up, “tea dulce y agua” (thinking I was saying ‘sweet tea and water’) as I handed him my water bottle to fill in the sink and eyed the bottles of cold tea in the fridge behind him. The final result? A water bottle of hot tea. No water, no tea, no ice cream. Sad face.

The lesson: Bring a phrase book! Count on my English speakers in larger cities but to be safe, always bring along a paper guide for reference. (Sure enough, your phone will die at exactly the wrong time.)

What about you? Have you have any travel fails in your adventures?