travel fails & how to fix ’em

travel is a learning experience. when anything goes wrong, it always comforts me to know that that is one thing i will not be doing again in the future anytime soon, and these experiences have helped to make me a better traveler. i don’t even mind thinking about or revisiting them because it helps refresh the moral of the story in my mind and it’s that that’s made me wiser.
this week, i’m talking my biggest travel fails and what i learned from them… and what i hope you too will learn so you don’t make these same mistakes that i have.


mistake #1: accidental fare-dodging on the prague metro system… and getting caught
the amount i’ve been checked on the berlin u-bahn system averaged about once a month when i was living there. on the other hand, the amount i’ve been checked on the prague metro system (and in any other czech city) while there: a whole lot more.

it was one of my last days living in prague and my monthly metro pass had expired, so i had pre-purchased tram tickets and intended to validate them on the tram… except having a metro pass really gets you out of the habit of doing that! i was so caught, and decided my best course of action was to feign confused american tourist, which was easy enough, but the patroller spoke english (dang). “we will go now to the bankomat”, he stated after i told him i didn’t have enough to pay the 1,000kc (about $50) fine. “um, sorry, i can’t withdraw any more money today,” i lied, knowing full well there was no way i was going to let him drag me to a cash machine. i ended up paying the 300kc i had in my wallet and he gave me some weird iou receipt things that i later threw away. it’s never really worth it to fare-dodge in the czech republic!


mistake #2: not researching the proximity of the train station to the destination
i took a day trip to vyšši brod & rožmberk nad vltavou (both near the austrian border) on a fine, warm spring day one june. i figured, hey, i’ve lived in this country for about a year and a half now, i’m kind of a pro at this day trip thing. WRONG. after a loooong hike in the hot sun, i was so thankful to get to rozmberk and have a big frosty budvar. and that happiness lasted shortly after we left the restaurant when we realized the train station was five kilometers away. hoo boy, not what you want to hear after a long hike. not only that but it was near impossible to find, totally unmarked and hidden in the forest. the only way we figured it out was seeing some kind of power lines up on the hill.

mistake #3: thinking that prague and frankfurt are probably pretty close together
on my second big europe backpacking trip in 2006 i booked an open-jaw flight into amsterdam and out of frankfurt, knowing that my last stop was prague but thought: it’s right next door, no big deal. (typical american thinking) good lord, did i set myself up for the worst travel day of my life. when it was time to leave prague, we took a night train to frankfurt and arrived to frankfurt süd at approximately 5:00am with no train leaving there until 6:00am. frankfurt süd is nasty and is not a space you want to spend more time than a brisk walk through to the platform. not only that, but after i finally got to the city, it was time to go to the airport and begin my series of flights all the way back to the west coast of the states, with no break in between. worst. idea.


mistake #4: going all the way from london to greenwich (unknowingly) twice
when you buy a ticket for one of the hop-on, hop-off buses, you also usually get a pass for a free thames cruise. woopee! unless you forget to get off and go an hour down the river to greenwich. sure the cruise is fun for a twenty minutes, if you get off while still in london, but the rest of the cruise to greenwich is terribly boring, and then the boat sits for a half hour layover before it turns around. it hurts a little more that i actually made this same mistake in both 2004 and 2012. it’s time to learn when to get off the boat. at least we look happy! (above)


mistake #5: planning a trip with a soon-to-be ex-boyfriend
on a romantic trip to iceland isn’t exactly the best time to break up, but break-ups know no bounds. they sort of happen when they need to happen, and unfortunately this one happened in reykjavik, iceland. unfortunately, there isn’t much of a way around this because it was a trip booked long in advance, but the only lesson i can glean from this one is be sure about how you feel about your travel partner before you plan the trip! yikes. (don’t worry, i made the most of it)


mistake #6: double check that the place you want to visit hasn’t closed, and keep into account national holidays
i told you all about my hellish day in warsaw when, despite great intentions, not much went right. a national holiday diverted our lazienski park visiting plans (above, the hordes), and a lack of english menu at a mlecna bar sent alex to a hangry breaking point.

the copernicus museum was totally filled to capacity (probably from everyone off work for the holiday). i didn’t bring any map with me to explore the praga district and we ended up walking alongside what felt like a highway for thirty minutes and another three hours of searching for a restaurant that was actually closed (we don’t give up). i sort of brought that one upon myself, using an out-of-date guidebook for a country that is changing so quickly! now i will always double-check the hours of the location online and certainly will plan ahead for local holidays! the local TI center can always give you a heads up about these things, and warsaw has a really great and helpful one, located just off the old town square.

i’m really looking forward to reading your own travel misadventures this week, as it is the prompt of the month for #traveltuesday. and this week is my, courtney, and yalanda’s last week of co-hosting this fabulous link-up. i’ve really enjoyed getting to know you some of you through your posts. thank you for such wonderful participation throughout the past three months– it makes my heart happy.

each week, the co-hosts and i choose our favorite post from the following week, and this week i was all about jen’s post about the dangers of living in london, although all the post seemed to do was make me what do go back there even more. hmmmm… back-fire. check it out if you want a dose of real london expat life.

if you’re a blogger, now’s the time to link up your travel post with us & meet some new travelers like yourself! here’s how it works: share a post about travel, link back to co-hosts bonnie, courtney, yalanda, & myself (cynthia) using the button below. add your link & hop around.

{TIPS} one post per person (save others for future tuesdays!). share the love on social media with the #traveltuesday hashtag. only properly linked posts will be featured. the last tuesday of the month is a themed prompt: this month it’s travel misadventures.