8 Travel Pros Confess Their Biggest Travel Mishaps

Travel mishaps. We all have them. Even seasoned travelers, the ones who should have the process down pat, are prone to the occasional oops.

We found 8 travel pros willing to share their most memorable mistakes from not checking the weather to forgetting key items to caring so much about their friend, they forgot about themselves. Lessons were learned (or maybe not) and they still managed to have a great time on their trips.

They’re living proof that mistakes are part of the adventure and they don’t have to ruin your trip. A positive attitude and the ability to laugh at yourself are all you need for a perfect trip.

The Business Travelers Who Thought They Had a System

Alison at Explorationsolo.com

I’ll kick things off with a business trip where I managed some incredibly bad packing. I was a seasoned pro by this time, jetting off on trips at least twice a month, if not more. I prided myself on having a toiletry bag ready to go, and a concrete packing routine.

When I arrived at the hotel, I opened my suitcase to find I had packed black pants and a navy blue T-shirt, no pajamas, and no makeup. I’m still not entirely sure how this happened.

I’m panicking but the hotel was luckily located within walking distance to JC Penney which was still open. I was able to get a white blouse and cardigan so at least I was set for the next day.

Our meeting went well and the local rep who was taking me around laughed when I explained my dilemma and took me to Target. I was able to get a second shirt for the next day, something to sleep in, and replenish the makeup. She bought a few things too.

I learned my lesson and now have a checklist for every trip. Things are only checked off when they’re actually inside the suitcase.

Kristin at www.notripophobia.com

Read on to see how Kristin from www.notripophobia.com was “Keeping It Classy in Singapore”.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be based in Hong Kong and traveled frequently throughout Asia for work (two weeks home, one week away, one week home, two weeks away, etc.).

I started to get a bit too cocky in my streamlined packing process and decided that rather than packing and unpacking every trip, I would have a set of work clothes that I would always use when I traveled and simply wash them and put them back in my suitcase when I got home. 

This worked really well until…..it didn’t. One day, I hopped on a plane to Singapore with a suitcase full of freshly washed blouses, skirts, dresses, and….no bras.

I checked into my hotel, relaxed, and just before bed, I opened my suitcase to get my clothes out for the next morning including a lacy white blouse. I searched through my bag for a white bra but couldn’t find anything. Hmmm….. That’s weird I thought. Where could they be?  I began searching more frantically and pulled everything out of my suitcase. 

Then it dawned on me. My “travel” bras were sitting in my underwear drawer with all my other ones. Crap. I glanced down my tank top at my black 34C bra and back at all the white shirts that I had brought with them. Oh, double crap. 

The next morning, I showed up at a networking event and business conference in a white shirt and black bra. Yes, I was THAT classy person. 

Shoes, Shoes, And More Shoes

Kerry at www.veggtravel.com

Author's feet wrapped in green plastic bags to help keep her feet dry.

If you’re planning on an adventurous trip where you will be doing a lot of hiking, walking, or other fun activities, then make sure you pack more than one pair of trainers. In fact, don’t pack trainers at all, pack hiking shoes that are suitable for all your activities.

There are many adventurous things to do in Arenal, Costa Rica and stupidly I only took one pair of trainers for a 10-day trip. Despite visiting Costa Rica in the ‘dry season, we had torrential rain 80% of the time (it is the rainforest after all).

While the rain didn’t stop me from enjoying the beautiful outdoors and stunning tropical nature of Costa Rica, it did mean my shoes got absolutely soaked.

My shoes couldn’t dry out, so from day 2 onwards, I either had to slush about with wet feet or bear the embarrassment of wearing plastic bags over my socks. Coincidentally, the plastic bags only partially worked and I’m still amazed at how I didn’t develop trench foot!

So don’t be like me. Pack more than one pair of suitable footwear! If worst comes to worst, buy another pair when you arrive. My trip was a little off the beaten track so this wasn’t an option for me but thankfully plastic bags saved the day. At least they matched! 

Always Check The Weather

Leyla at Womenontheroad.com

It was to be my first ever trip to South Africa, and I was primed. Beaches, photo safaris in the savanna… it was July, after all, and everything was in place.

As I walked onto the tarmac in my shorts and summer top, the first thing I saw was my breath curling up in the frosty morning air.

It may have been July, but in the Southern Hemisphere, it is unlike July at home in Europe, a fact I had somehow neglected. As I stood in line for all the formalities, my teeth chattered and the goosebumps on my arms looked like hives.

My lightweight backpack was stuffed with lightweight clothes, the warmest being a featherweight fleece for the occasional squall. The moment I was through Customs, I jumped into a taxi.

“Please take me to the nearest sports clothing shop!” I said, rigid with cold.

And I bought my first African souvenir: a pair of long-john underwear. I would return to South Africa often and each time I landed, I remembered that first trip, and the packing mistake I would never make again.

Pushing The Packing Limits

Chantae at tropicalgo.com

After traveling for years with a large backpack packed to the brim with accessories and clothes, I decided I would try my hand at minimalism. For a three-week trip to Bali, Malaysia, and Singapore, which included a three-day conference, I had a goal of traveling carry-on only.

No more schlepping heavy bags, waiting at baggage carousels, or wondering if I left an item behind in my hotel room.

The first red flag raised when I realized four kilograms of my carry-on backpack would have to be devoted to tech gear. While I wanted to travel light, there was no way I’d leave my camera or laptop behind. That left three kilograms for everything else.

Four days into my trip, I desperately needed to do laundry. Before bed, I washed my clothes in a hotel shower and hung them to dry under the air conditioning unit. When I woke up, the first day of my conference, my clothes were still soaking wet and I had nothing to wear.

I rushed to a nearby mall and grabbed an acceptable outfit in my size. The next day, my clothes dried but had a funky smell to them. Nothing says business professional like the stench of mildew! I dashed to the mall again and grabbed yet another outfit that would work.

These days, I use an Osprey Duplex backpack that can split into two just in case I need to check an extra kilo or two on the plane.

Making Sure You And Your Friend Have Valid Passports

Alana from theeverywhereguide.com

Poor Alana from theeerywhereguide.com wanted to be sure her friend was all set but forgot about herself. Read on to hear her story.

My best friend and I celebrated our 21st friendiversary by planning a girls’ trip to Cabo! We were so excited to enjoy the sunshine, the beach, and the cocktails! As the planner in our friendship, I made sure that all our reservations were made and that my best friend renewed her expired passport with plenty of time ahead of our trip.

Then, the night before our flight I realized that MY passport was out of date! I totally panicked and called my friend in tears to tell her that I wouldn’t be able to go on our girls’ trip. Luckily, we were able to find out that our home city of Seattle is actually one of the few cities in the country where you can get a same-day passport.

I sent my friend on her way to Mexico, moved my flight back a few hours, and then got to the passport office at 6 am sharp to wait in line. It cost me a few hundred dollars to get the new passport, and another few hundred to move around my flight… but I ended up arriving in Mexico just 5 hours later than my friend.

We still managed to have an amazing trip, and she was even waiting in the lobby for me with a mojito!

Sometimes You’ve Just Gotta Make Due

Linn brainybackpackers.com

I had set up my tent at the campsite, had my dinner, and was ready to go to sleep for the night. So I grabbed my toiletries and headed for the bathrooms. My dog waited patiently in the tent.

I brushed my teeth, removed any makeup left after the long drive, pulled out my hairband, and looked for my hairbrush. Uhm… Seemed like I‘d forgotten it in the car. Or the tent. Well, that was ok, I could brush my hair in the tent or in the morning, no major crisis.

But, I couldn’t find it when I got back so I crashed out for the night. In the morning, I let my dog out for a pee, gathered my things to go for a shower. Remembering the hairbrush, I pulled out everything in all my bags, but it wasn’t anywhere to be found.

I guess it was still on the bathroom shelf at home. I pulled my fingers through my hair. This would be an interesting week – glad I had a hat.

Then I noticed something pink sticking up from a bag. It was my dog’s bag. With her food and stash. That was her pink hairbrush. Excellent!

I grabbed it, removed all the dog hair I could, and used it on my own head. My dog didn’t get brushed on that vacation, my hair survived the trip, and I never left home again without using my road trip packing list again.

Or did I?

Sometimes Being Unplugged is a Good Thing

Tristan at traxplorio.com

On my first trip to England, I realized how dependent I had become on my everyday electronic helpers.

Before every trip, I create a packing list and then carefully pack and check every item. I did it the same way before my trip to England. But one little gadget was, unfortunately, missing on my England packing list… my travel adapter!

I know I’m not the only one who uses his smartphone to store information, especially when traveling. I save everything on my phone (check-in codes, accommodations, etc.) and I use it to pass time while I’m waiting.

When I arrived at my accommodation in England, the phone battery was already pretty low. Full of anticipation about my vacation, I thought I’d charge my smartphone while unpacking and freshening up. But then I saw the sockets and realized I didn’t have my adapters… Oh no!

How am I supposed to find my way around this new city now, I thought. I asked at reception for a store where I could buy a travel adapter and unfortunately had to spend a lot more money there than necessary.

However, I learned something much more valuable during my time without a smartphone – to talk to people more and simply ask about their favorite places. Since then, I always take a day on every trip where I go out without my smartphone and just let myself be surprised by what happens 

It’s All In How You Manage Your Mistake

As you can see, mistakes don’t have to ruin a trip. We all laughed at ourselves, made do with the situation, and even learned that sometimes it’s good to travel differently.

It’s more important to just push forward rather than aim for perfection. Bad packing and forgotten items are just part of the fun. Go ahead and Get Out there!

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