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Positive Lessons Learned From My Top 4 Travel Fails

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“It is not the destination where you end up, but the mishaps and (the) memories you create along the way!” ― Penelope Riley, Travel Absurdities.

Today story was inspired by a question from my friend, Anggha (or professionally know as the doll, Chucky); a niche music blogger behind the blog Poser Berduit, literally translated as Wealthy Poser (though he is nothing but a poser) . He once asked whether I have experienced travel fails before, since I mostly sing the praise of the places I traveled to in this blog. The answer is, I do, of course.

Is there any traveler who doesn’t experience travel fails?

It’s just that I intentionally seek and choose to write the goodness of my travels. And between experiencing the first snow, eating endless of waffles and snorkeling with Nemo, it’s not a hard choice at all. But his question got me thinking to share about my travel fails here. In the hope that maybe you can relate, maybe we can bond over and get lessons from it. Or maybe you can judge me for being travel-stupid. Whatever it’s, here is my top 4 travel fails and the lessons from it:

1. Not liking the place you traveled to

Unlike most of the place deliberately chose to travel to, I chose Vietnam because it’s close by and lots of travel writers rave about it. There was never an intrinsic pull and I was waiting for it to surprise me once I reached. It didn’t *Insert Nelson’s Ha Ha! laugh*, I went with a group of very close friends and had a good time with them there, still I didn’t like Vietnam, not even after sailing through Mekong river. After sipping drip coffee for three days in a row, I was so ready to go back. Vietnam, I could do without it.

Vietnamese Pho

^^ Everyone loves Vietnamese Pho but me.

Lesson learned: Don’t travel to a place who doesn’t “ping” you from the inside. It might be the obvious choice for others, but if you are not feeling it, save your travel fare to some other places you feel called to visit.

2. Missed the flight

I am always running late, not proud of it and working my way to reduce it as much as possible, but this time, I doubt I wasn’t at fault. The flight was at 8.15 AM and I reached the check-in counter by 6.50AM. It’s not unusual, but this time apparently everyone else has checked-in. Since I was late, by a max of ten minutes (by rule check in counter will be closed 90 mins before the departure), the check in counter lady refused to check me in. I tried to reason with her so much so that I was on the brink of tears, but she wasn’t in the mood to show a single drop of compassion. I had to buy another ticket for a flight that leaves 45 minutes later than the first flight. When I crossed the waiting room at 8.20 AM, I could see my actual flight was still waiting for to be boarded. Gah! I want to hate that up tight Air Asia lady, but stopped myself, because at least I am going on a vacation.

Lesson Learned: Despite past experiences and successful last minutes, check into stories, come to the Airport early. You can have pre-holiday drinking session inside on your free time, once you checked-in.

3. Visa Denials

It’s very rare that I am scared by an authoritative figure. If anything, I am known as a rebel, be it my boss or teachers, but there is a group of uniform wearing people that I am truly scared of, the immigration officers. This unfortunate story happened six months ago when my boarding pass was torn in front of my very own eyes (I am being a little dramatic here, if you couldn’t tell) for not having a valid visa to lay over for two hours in an airport in Australia before heading to our travel destination, New Zealand. Who knows that we need a visa only to lay over in the airport? I certainly didn’t. And to find out two hours before flying, it felt like a death sentence to my travel dreams! Anyways, it happened, which I declared as the worst day of 2014. I went back fighting tears and dragging the luggage which seemed to be heavier now that I was dragging it back home. Hulk cheered me up with coffee and, later at night, booze. At the end, we managed to exchange it to a direct flight and reached Auckland two days later. Phew!

Lesson Learned: If you think I am going to conclude the lesson to check on lay over visa, it’s wrong (because. Of course, that one is obvious). The lesson I learned is that to have someone who tried to cheer you up when you were feeling super sad, who cared enough about your happiness to stay up all night to sort out the problem while you were passed out after drowning your sorrow in ciders, matters. It matters a lot, more than going to New Zealand itself.

4. Keep losing valuable stuff

It has been well established in this blog that I am not good at keeping track of my things, especially the random ones. My mind works in an orderly manner and nothing else, which is why I have a travel checklist and also why I always check my passport like 15 times before I reach the Airport, but still I lose things. I already made my peace of losing small things here and there while traveling, but the hard part is when I lose something precious or when I have this strong feeling that I have lost more things during my latest travel.

Japan Ryokan

^^ Last picture taken of said Kindle.

Among the things i have lost, the most memorable one was my Kindle, which I went so much in trouble to get for myself for my birthday, years before Kindle was not yet a thing in Asia. I loved it with every fiber of my bookworm being and I left it on the flight back home from Japan. I didn’t panic at first, I was sure I would get it back. I called and emailed Delta immediately, and after a few weeks of unsatisfactory response (they said they couldn’t find it), I came to terms with it. My first eBook with 35+ self help collections inside it were gone forever. I only wished that it makes the person who took it into a better person after reading it. He or she has my self-help blessings.

My craziest moment of losing something was when I realized I couldn’t find my passport when I reach the immigration counter. I ran back to the arrival gate and begged the stewardess to let me in because I think i left my passport in the back of the airplane seat (where I left my Delta, same place, different journey). Fortunately, she was kind enough to let me who must look like a crazy lady inside the flight again and collect my passport. Retrospectively, it was a minor incident, but imagine if the flight has flown somewhere, I would be stuck in the airport, Tom Hank’s The Terminal style.

Lesson learned: Pack less, pack specific traveling items so you can remember easier what you bring every time you travel, check all your VIP stuff thrice every day and lastly never ever keep anything inside the back pocket of plane seat.

Now, tell me, do we share some travel fails? If you have a story of your own, please share on the comment below. I would love to know that I am not the only one who has these kinda blunders. Btw, with all these fails, I still think we travelers, are blessed with the chance to experience this gorgeous planet from many different angles. Don’t you agree?

Ps. Read more about Why Wellington city is another city I didn’t care much for.

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  • Eek, at least you’ve learnt from your mistakes!
    One time I wanted to go to this gorgeous island in Malaysia that I had spent some time at with my family, so I took two friends with me the next spring. We didn’t check the weather completely because, while the resort was open, the skies were also open and the whole place was flooded the whole time. 🙁

    • Foreign Geek

      Yes I have. I am sorry to hear your travel blunders Charlotte, but it happened a lot in this part of the world. Resorts are open all year long, no matter how the weather is during a particular period. I have had a similar experience in Malaysia as well (went there in Jan, it was raining everyday)

  • Your lessons also teach others! I never would’ve ever thought about visas for lay-overs in other countries but now will always keep that in the back of my mind as something to think about while traveling.

    • Foreign Geek

      I am so glad Kati. That’s one of the reasons I blog, to make it either entertaining or informative. By you saying that, I know I have done my job ;P Thank you!

  • I didn’t know what you needed a visa for lay-overs if you weren’t leaving the airport. Good to know (especially since I almost just booked a flight through Moscow).

  • Toast Rack

    Great lessons! I’ve also missed a flight which my parents still won’t let me live it down 5 years later. It was pretty funny actually and I got an extra 2/3 days of holiday out of it 🙂 x

  • Pingback: I Am Not A Solo Female Traveler - Foreign Geek()

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