It’s Travel Tip Tuesday, and today we are talking about lessons learned from travel faux pas! What’s the biggest travel boo boo you’ve had to overcome?
My friend Lindsay was the inspiration for this post, so it’s only fitting to start with her tale of woe. Her dad bought a plane ticket for her, but he misspelled her last name! She noticed it while attempting to check in the day before and started worrying about it immediately–what can she do?! Turns out, one letter off is no problem; two or more letters off is a problem!
Lesson Learned: Check your spelling before you purchase your ticket, and if at all possible, fill out the online forms yourself!
2. Missed Opportunities
On my first trip to Paris, my friend Bianca and I almost missed our flight at Charles De Gaulle airport due to a series of unfortunate events. Even with Bianca speaking fluent French, we encountered miscommunication after miscommunication, and ultimately, we just kept running! We made our flight despite train strikes, people telling us we’d miss it, and our boarding passes wouldn’t scan at any of the checkpoints!
Lesson Learned: Just keep going! Never give up!
3. Botched Expectations
My friend Valarie went to Barcelona, Spain, fully expecting to find all things Spanish. But wait! Barcelonans do not consider themselves Spanish, they are Catalan! So much so, they find being called “Spanish” offensive! So instead of Paella and Flamenco dancing, she enjoyed Catalan hot chocolate served with churros and a dance called La Sardana!
Lesson Learned: Expect the unexpected and embrace the place where you find yourself!
My husband Steve went to visit his nephew Luke while he was studying abroad in Budapest. They decided to take a 2-day trip to Kiev, bought tickets on a small airline, and arrived at the airport expecting to fly out. Little did they know their flight had been cancelled and rescheduled for the next day! They made it out that day, but with a connection on two different airlines, culminating in one of the hardest landings he’d ever experienced!
Lesson Learned: Just keep politely asking for help, even if that’s not your nature!
5. An Accidental Plummet
One day on a trip to the Italian Riviera in Cinque Terre, my future husband was out for a run along the iconic coast. Unfortunately, he got a bit too close to the edge and fell off the trail! He had to climb back up like a billy goat, grabbing at weeds and shrubbery on the way back up. Something on the climb back up gave him some nasty, oozing blisters, but he eventually recovered!
Lesson Learned: Watch your step!
A friend of a friend once arrived at the airport for a flight home only to realize she was scheduled for the same flight the next day! She’d had such a terrible trip that the ticketing agent felt sorry for her and changed her reservation at no charge!
Lesson Learned: Check your dates and check your tickets!
7. Volcanic Activity
Sometimes volcanoes happen. Once, my husband and I were coming home from the Galapagos and spent an unfortunate day in Quito, Ecuador. Their volcano, Cotopaxi, was potentially going to erupt, spewing warning ashes all over the city! Our flight got cancelled, we spent well over an hour rebooking on another airline with three connections instead of one, and we just made an earlier flight on our last leg to get us home faster! It just took some phone calls, research on our phones, running, and a lot patience!
Lesson Learned: Make phone calls and don’t take no for an answer. Keep trying!
8. Location, Location, Location
My friend Lisa once showed up at the wrong airport in Rome! Luckily, she arrived early and was able to get to the right airport to make her flight!
Lesson Learned: Check your airport! And arrive early.
9. If the Dress Fits
My friend Shannon was on her way to her best friend’s wedding in Atlanta, and took a late flight to get there. After arriving at 1:00am, she left her bridesmaid’s dress in the front closet of the plane! It was raining, the shuttles had stopped running for the night, and it was dark! You can only imagine her shock and gratitude when a flight attendant took it upon herself to find Shannon at baggage claim with her dress!
Lesson Learned: Check on your personal belongings, and be kind to your flight attendants!
10. My Mom, at the Airport, with the Butterknife
We all have a story like this one. My mom was coming home from a trip to Canada and had safely packed away the butterknife she’d purchased at an adorable shop in Halifax. She’d planned to check the bag instead of carrying it on, but forgot about it an changed her mind at the last minute. Well, she forgot about it until it went through security screening. When the agents’ eyes started to get big, she realized what had happened and came clean quickly. She told them exactly what it was, but of course they were required to open up her bag and examine the contents anyway. You can imagine the unmentionables on display for all to see, as well as a brochure from every place we’d been on our trip the last week! They let her go on with it anyway, instead of confiscating it. Those Canadians are so nice!
Lesson Learned: ALWAYS check and double check to make sure the things in your carry-on are permissible!
Overall, most of these things could be avoided by checking your details and staying organized! It just takes a little effort, an extra few seconds, or another once-over to confirm you have what you need and are headed to the right place! But these things happen to everyone, so don’t get too discouraged when it happens to you!
What’s your travel faux pas story? Share a travel fiasco in the comment section below, and your story could appear in a future Travel Faux Pas blog post!