Why am I the Queen of Travel Fails..

Everyone who knows me well, will agree that I am truly the supreme ruler when it comes to misadventures on the road. I always end up with some mishaps at the airport, during my travels or just about anywhere I go. Its like disasters follow me around and yes it can be quite annoying, but, when I can, I just take them in my stride and move on with a smile. Afterall, travel is not all about palm fringed white sand beaches and cocktails, well mostly but not all of it.

When I started traveling solo, I found these misadventures to be really daunting at first. Imagine you are away from home in a far off unknown land and get pick pocketed, or meet with an unfortunate accident and are on your own for miles at end – Yes, it can be unnerving and intimidating. However, as I recovered from one disaster after another, I realized it is all part of the learning process. With every new “incident”, I learnt something new and this made me smarter, stronger and more confident of handling my problems, on my own.

When you are traveling with friends or in a group, it is very easy to rely on others to bail you out if you are in a tight spot, when you are traveling solo, you are literally forced to overcome all hurdles yourself. How you deal with it, defines your character! Okay so I actually cried once, but hey it gets to you sometime and can be extremely overwhelming.

My Worst Travel Disasters While Traveling Solo

travel fails

With so many distastes to my credit, it was hard to pick the worst ones but I tried. Here goes –

Met with an accident on my first solo trip to Laos

So with no prior know-how of how to drive a semi-automatic or manual bike, I decided to do the 3 day Thakhek bike loop in Laos. However, in my defense, I had fair knowledge of driving automatic bikes. Well, atleast for a week every year, during my annual trips to Goa. By no account am I an expert rider and had just one dirt biking tour to my credit,  but isn’t that what adventure is all about? (Not!).

dirt bike in laos

Getting a hang of riding this mean dirt bike in Laos. I am so gangsta.. NOT!

Okay then I rented a semi-automatic bike (that is usually what you can get in Laos, which I wasn’t aware of), got a shady map and drove off with an over-sized helmet. First mistake was that I didn’t check the helmet till around 20 kms and then it was too late – I just took it off and enjoyed the wind in my hair. After around 150 kms, I was driving through lovely landscapes and local villages at about 80 Km per hour. A bunch of lovely goats are crossing the street. No issues, right? Wrong! I turn slight right to cross them and one adorable goat got scared. She decided to jump towards me, instead of away from me – maybe she was over friendly.

hand drawn map in laos

A typical hand drawn map in Laos so its easy to get lost – but that was another time lol

At the speed I was going, I would’ve hit the poor goat if I hadn’t stopped. I pulled both the “front” brakes as hard as I could (instead of the bottom breaks coz well I am used to driving an automatic which does not have any other breaks). That resulted in the bike flying off (with me in tow, of course) and landed on top of my right leg – jeez , I still have nasty scars from that one.

Rest is history and I won’t get into the painful array of events that followed – long story short this results in 3 weeks bed rest and a wheelchair at the airport to get me back home.

What people said – Why in the world were you trying to save a stupid goat. My response – You are stupid, goats aren’t – I would do it all over again if I was in the same situation, probably not to save a human, though.

Lesson learnt – Don’t get ahead of yourself – know your skills and choose your adventures wisely. A good adrenaline rush is one thing, but going back home from a vacation in a wheelchair is a different story altogether.

Lost all my cash, cards and phone in Bali

One fine day during my 11 months in Indonesia, I decided to enjoy winter vacations on the beautiful beaches of Bali. Little did I know that is was peak season for pick pockets as well. I found out soon enough when my phone got snatched and later my card (After I had spent all my cash).

food and beer in bali

This is what I spent my cash on.. Good food and better beer!

Since I was working in Bandung, I had my boss transfer some emergency money – Just $100 and survived off it for rest of my vacation (Around a week) as I refused to cut it short and return. I would rather survive on Ramen than leave the beach.

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It took another 1.5 month of struggling with cash issues in Bandung before I could get my Indian debit card re-issued and had my parents send it to me from India.

Bali, during peak season, is a mecca for pick pocketers but you can still have a great time as long as you are careful. Started putting my last few dollars in my bra before stepping out and that worked well for me.

What people said – Don’t go to Bali for Christmas!  My Response – You might as well stop traveling all together then, guys.

Lesson learntBe ultra careful with your belongings especially in a commercial touristy destination during peak season. Use pick pocket proof clothing to hide your passport, cards and cash.

Had an Open Wound and was rushed to Emergency in Sri Lanka

Ah this is another interesting one. I had a cyst on my neck which required a surgery for removal, pretty much a normal procedure. I planned it several days prior to my trip so that I don’t have to deal with any unpleasantness. After surgery, I checked with the doc and everything was okayed and I was good to go on my adventures.

Day 1 in my hostel in Negombo, Sri Lanka was very normal – I chatted with few people in my hostel, went out for dinner, curled up with a book in my dorm bed and slept.

I woke up to something wet on my neck, when I touched it I saw blood – OMFG, I totally freaked out when I looked into the mirror. Blood was oozing out of my open stitches and I started feeling dizzy. I put my handkerchief on the wound to stop the blood flow and rushed to the reception. The hostel manager was kind enough to call an auto for me and I went , by myself ofcourse, to the nearest hospital – right to the emergency.

I was all patched up and good to go to the beach in around an hour.

All patched up and good to go - I dare not show the "before" picture (too gory and def an appetite killer)

All patched up and good to go – I dare not show the “before” picture (too gory for everyones taste)

Lesson LearntWell, this was just unfortunate with no fault of mine. I bet the doc didn’t do a good job in the first place but hey, if this happens to you, god forbid – don’t panic and get help immediately. Also maybe its a good idea to avoid traveling several weeks till after a surgery – no matter what your doc tells you.  

Missed my flight to Bangkok from Jakarta airport

This one was purely 100% my stupidity. I reached the airport 4 hours prior to the departure, so took out my laptop, got a cup of coffee and started working. After around 3 hours, I checked the board next to me which gave me around 15 mins more before check-in. Wondering if my flight was late, I went to the check-in counter and realized I was looking at the “boarding” notices all that time.

With no online check-in and 30 mins to flight, I had to pay extra, wait another 2 hours and buy fresh tickets for the next flight in order to finally go to Bangkok and start my SE Asian adventures.

lonely beach

And…when I finally made it to Thailand.

Yup, hand’s down the silliest travel fail.

What people said – You snooze you lose! My response – For the 100th time, I did not doze off.

Lesson learnt Always check in online and stay alert even if you are a seasoned traveler – this happened to me, so it can happen to anyone, well, okay this was really dumb of me but be careful. Also, Jakarta airport allows you to enter the boarding area before checking in (Which is not the case with other airports I have been to) so be very careful as this can get confusing. 

Getting lost in Laos for a night

Laos was my first 100% solo trip – like I knew absolutely noone in the country and wasn’t visiting friends or anything. I was staying with a Couchsurfing host that fateful night and we all went for a 4th of July pig roast – sounds like fun, what can go wrong here. Umm.. So, anyways we partied the night away.

4th of july pig roast

All dressed up and ready to go – Little did I know I wasn’t coming back that night…

In wee hours of the morning my host wanted to go home and I wanted to party – of course, I mean doesn’t the real party start at 3 am? I asked my “friends” and host to go home and I will come after the party is over. Sadly, 10 minutes after they left, the party was dead. I was the only one dancing away to glory. When I realized how silly that was, I started asking people for directions. Everyone was pretty drunk and little did I know that Laos had no house numbers. Just my lucky day, eh?

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With no way to go back or find my way at 4 am, I finally gave up after trying to venture on my own in the dark bushes to find the house. I went into one of the bedrooms (of the stranger whose party I attended – yes, It was that weird), locked the door from inside and dozed off.

Sun light woke me up early in the morning, I had no battery in my phone to call anyone for help. I sneaked out of the house and after an hour of walking in every possible direction (well, at each fork of the road, there will be two ways to go). All I knew for sure was that the house was a 10 minute walk from where I was. So I started walking 15-20 mins in all directions. Finally, after crossing some bushes and muddy paths I finally found a place that looked somewhat familiar. I was home, at last (Well, my home for the next few hours atleast).

What people said – You are crazy! My response – You are right.

Lesson learnt When you are traveling alone,  friends you make on the road are extremely important. Stick to them especially in parties or crowded places. Laos has no house numbers, at all. You even pick up your post from the post office yourself. So when in Laos, keep your friends close and phone charged. If you get lost, no one can help you as you cannot give an address or ask for directions. 

Almost got stranded in Bangalore

Okay let’s forget about the past, everyone makes mistakes now and then. So, let’s talk about my latest trip to Wayanad. It was a fully paid media trip so I was pretty confident nothing can go wrong. I mean from my flights to my food and stay, it was all complimentary and arranged in advance. I didnt even carry any cash, just because I didn’t need to.

5 mins before stepping out of the house, as a precautionary measure and a last minute thought, I considered carrying my debit card – You know, with my luck, just in case. I am glad I did.

From Delhi I flew to Bangalore – hurdle free and relaxed. Step one complete and I was even more confident that this could be my one hassle free venture. Anyways, I was wrong.

At Bangalore airport, I was asked for the credit card which was used to make the booking. The company I worked with was based in Dubai and there was no way I could get a card authorization and docs to prove that my tickets were genuinely paid for by someone else, at that very minute.

They looked at me as if I was a fraud and maybe used fraudulent details to book . Yes, there are people who use stolen cards and its a security measure by the airline which I understand. Long story short I ended up paying 100% of the ticket cost in full using my card, so I could board the flight. Ofcourse they refunded to the same card and the client compensated me later but if I didn’t have my card that time – I would be stranded.

Stairway to heaven

When I finally made it to Wayanad

What people said – Wait, what you got free tickets, stay and meals!? How do you travel for free? My response – First off, its not free – it’s hard work. Secondly, did you even hear past that?

Lesson learnt Always carry an extra travel card or any sort of emergency stash for such situations. If someone else is booking your tickets, ensure that you request for the credit card copy, authorization letter and id of the person, as you can be asked for it anytime.

Apart from these, there were many other things like –

Excess baggage charges while booking low cost carriers in Europe

Fight with an AirBnB owner in Venice

Almost missed my flight from Ibiza as I got confused between the dates

Hassled by immigration as I had extended my stay in Thailand for a day by mistake and my visa expired (talk about 31 days in a month – jeez)

Standing in wrong lines at the airport

Accommodation not booked even after paying in full

…and many many more. Literally each and every time I travel, something goes wrong – but that doesn’t stop me. I am still striving for that one uneventful trip though with my luck, I doubt that will ever happen.

So friends please only focus on the lessons learnt from my misadventures and try to use my travel fails to your advantage. If they happen, deal with them and don’t hold off on your traveling, ever!

Tell me about your travel fails in comments below so I feel better about my fiascoes.

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  • Wow, this was a lot of tough events and encounters, but such beautiful country to cover and experience.

  • Hey girl, wow you did have some funny things that happened to you. And no, you’re not the only one. By accident we stayed 2 days more in Mozambique which was quite expensive (not recommended) and we had to bribe them as well otherwise it would have been even more expensive. We stayed like 10 days over in Thailand because we came by land and we only remembered the time that is allowed by plane which is different. Oh my god, it was so embarrassing. One had to be with the police at the airport, the other had to get more cash. We got rid of everything, and I think a stamp into our passport. Someone brought us to the plane (it was waiting for us!!!) hahaha…it was ridiciulous. At least if you pay, they take you to the plane not to the jail like other countries. We were quite lucky. Loved your post it made me smile and glad you made it through everything. It’s just part of the adventure 😉 xxx

    • Oh wait, you can stay “less” if you arrive by land to Thailand? Okay looks like I don’t know the rules either lol. How much did you have to pay? Mine was just 1 day overstay so they let me off with a warning – thank god! Oh man, jailed abroad is one of my worst nightmares. I agree, its all part of the adventure – thanks for reading.

  • Bintu – Recipes From A Pantry

    You seem a little accident prone! I guess you learn from problems like this as you say. I am lucky never to have lost all my cards . Sending lots of good luck your way for your next travels!

    • Haha yes I am indeed (Actually “only” when it comes to traveling, I wonder why). Thx for the luck – I sure do need it.

  • Grassroots Nomad

    You are one tough cookie. I’ve found that travel fails make for the best (and often the funniest) stories. A recent one of mine – I had set up all these hotels and trips, including my first free stays, in India and the morning of my flight I realised I had forgotten to sort out a visa… so I couldn’t go to India. Those emails to the hotels and companies were incredibly embarrassing to write!!

    • Oh no, that sounds terrible India is beautiful. But do let me know if you get your visa next time and plan to visit India – we could catch up 🙂

  • Everyone deserves to be the Queen of something lol. No its just a matter of where your throne is located. Ah the joys of traveling its full of unexpected failures, wins but overall its ana experience that makes us better people

    • ROFL – A queen of mis-adventures, not exactly the kind of title I was hoping for, but hey – I will roll with it.

  • I love how despite having all your cash, cards and phone stolen, you weren’t going to let that dampen your exploring! Many people would just complain and come home! Luckily, you can survive off of very little in Bali though 🙂

    • Well, I did complain but really I just blamed myself for being careless. I warned everyone about it and was like the hostel anti-theft adviser through the trip lol – many others suffered the same fate as me, even after my repeated red flags, sadly 🙁 I guess you don’t “Expect” bad things to happen to you .. unless they happen.

  • I’ve had a few misadventures along the way and it’s always nice when you’re far enough past them to look back and laugh or at least a smile. It sounds like you’ve had plenty of practice in this area!

    • Yup I can laugh at all of them – Now-a-days, I am past them in less than 10 mins really (after sorting it out). I just expect things to go wrong so its not like I have high expectations of the perfect trip haha

  • Those are some interesting stories. 🙂 But all is well that ends well. Kudos to you, you had presence of mind in almost all the cases. I also have a few stories but not these many. 🙂

    So selfish I am, would like to read your other adventures that you’ve mentioned at the end. 🙂

    • Really? You want to read more? Maybe part 2 after few more trips and fails 😛

  • Cristina Cristina

    Well, it can’t all be perfect when you travel. Maybe you have had more “experiences” than other people, but hey, you will have great stories to tell :). Good luck on your next adventure, and don’t forget to update this post with new stories 🙂

    • Oh yes, let’s rephrase it as “Travel experiences”, I feel better already 🙂

      Oops yup I am sure there will be many more “Experiences” soon

  • Veronika

    Thanks for sharing your honest experineces – yep, travel is not all about rainbows and unicorns. There are tourouble and bad situations as well. I can not imagine looking money and the cradit cards – I totally have no idea on how would I solve it. And getting lost the passport is even worse. Some countries even don’t have Czech Republic ambassy. Hope I will never experience it 🙁

    • Losing passport is really scary (even for the queen of travel fails lol).

  • Yikes, thank goodness everything ended up alright in the end. Its great that you learn something new from every experience- but please wear a helmet next time!

    • Helmets are so important – the things is, If I was wearing that oversized helmet, it would’ve been worse maybe as I wasn’t able to see properly with it falling over my eyes.
      So the moral is def to get the right sized helmet at first go – I realize it was really lucky that my head wasn’t hurt (well, maybe its was- hence the fails continue lol).

  • Gabby Beckford

    OMG! It was funny at the beginning but you really are a danger magnet haha. I’m glad it all has been a lesson learned though! And omg, that list of extra stuff at the end! You’re a bad ass for traveling despite it all!

    • Yup def every “Experience” is a learning and I try to take everything in my stride – I know its pretty crazy right? I am just so “blase” now and kind of expect something to go wrong now and just laugh it off!

  • ” Don’t go to Bali for Christmas! My Response – You might as well stop traveling all together then, guys.”

    Lol Jo, this was really funny. You have waaaaay more travel fails than anyone I know!!

    Now i know who to call when something messes up. You’ve probs been there, done that and got the t-shirt 🙂

    • Still learning from my mistakes I guess. Cheers to new screw ups! 😉

  • Funny and surprisingly, I could also relate to some of them 😉

    Cheers to more screw-ups 😉