I have always loved the quote, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page”. Well, if books are knowledge, then the more I’ve travelled, the wiser I’ve certainly become… mainly through learning some very tough lessons while on the road.
Like don’t end a perfect week of culture with a stay in a tacky resort…
Just picture it. Myself and my best friends from my Masters degree headed off on a girls’ holiday not long after graduation. We chose the glorious Spanish capital of Madrid for our fiesta, and we had a week of perfection in every way imaginable: tapas, churros and history, walks through parks and rowing on lakes.
Unfortunately we thought it would be a GREAT idea to round off this holiday with a short stay in Majorca for a bit of partying…which there is nothing wrong with at all, unless you’ve kinda run out of money by this point, and wind up staying in a substandard 2* hotel (complete with dubious looking hairs on the sheets) in the centre of the not so lovely holiday resort of Santa Ponsa. I’ll let you conjure up the image in your own heads of what this place is like, but let’s just say this is the best picture from this part of the holiday…because it’s too dark to see very much.
We still managed to have lots of fun, because well, we always do. But we kicked ourselves for choosing to few nights at the back end of the trip slinging back Blue Lagoons in Diva Bar rather than cruising the Gran Via.
Like book your transport and accommodation in advance…
Back in 2005, during my summer hols at Uni, I made the brave decision to travel to Sri Lanka alone to teach in an orphanage for a few weeks. While I was there, I met an extremely fun girl called Nadia, who was on her gap year and took me under her wing for a while on her travels. As a naïve and inexperienced solo traveller, she convinced me that it was totally fine to turn up at a train station, jump on the first train that came along, eventually get off at any destination that happens to take your fancy, and then ask a friendly Tuk-Tuk driver to recommend a hostel for the night. ERROR!
Cue us clambering onto a ridiculously over-crowded train where there were no seats left, and having to sit in the open doorway while the train built up speed and my life rushed before my eyes.
And then staying in a hostel which had no hot running water, no mosquito nets, no cover on the bed and most certainly no A/C!
But it’s experiences like these that add to life’s rich tapestry, and although I would never do it again, I would also never take it back.
Like check the expiry date of your passport BEFORE you get to the airport….
This experience however, I would take back in a heartbeat. My mum and I had organised a girls’ trip to Venice. We’d been talking about it for weeks and I was incredibly excited. We packed our bags, headed to Heathrow, and queued up at passport control, chatting about the week ahead all the way. At the front of the queue I was told in no uncertain terms that my passport had expired ten days ago and there was no way they could let me travel.
Luckily, my wonderful mum reacted in the way that any wonderful mum would. Sensing how terrible I felt about letting her down, rather than berating me, she quickly arranged a last minute staycation. Luckily, we are finally able to look back on this ‘incident’ and laugh, and we’re still talking about making the trip to Venice together one day…
Like take bad TripAdvisor reviews seriously…
The last girls holiday I went on was with my Essex crew to Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Before we departed, I’d read some rather dodgy reviews about the brand new five star resort we’d booked ourselves into, but chose to ignore them, putting them down to ‘teething problems’.
Five nights of severe food poisoning later, which culminated in one of my friends being put on a drip in our hotel room by the resident doctor, and we were berating ourselves for not taking the reviews more seriously. A question I only asked myself later was what kind of hotel requires a resident doctor anyway?!
This photo captures us at our happiest (and least green!) of the entire holiday.
And NEVER get into an unmarked taxi with a guy who speaks very little English…
Later in the same holiday when we were feeling well enough to peel ourselves from our sick beds, we headed out into the town for dinner and drinks. The taxi driver that dropped us off promised in broken English that he’d return at an agreed time to pick us up again. Having had our first night ‘out’ of the holiday, we were in good spirits as we met him to return to the hotel. However, as we were driving along, he suddenly veered off the road onto a dirt track started driving into the desert. We asked him where he was going, and when he didn’t answer, we eventually screamed at him to turn the car around. Ten minutes later, after we’d convinced we were being kidnapped and taken off into the desert for God knows what purposes, and I was frantically plotting our escape strategy, we realised that the driver was, in actual fact, just taking us on a short-cut back to the hotel, but simply couldn’t find the words to explain himself.
Save yourself a heart attack and stick to marked taxis ladies, and make sure both the driver and yourselves understand each other fully before you set off!
These are just a handful of my travel-related dramas which have taught me important lessons about what not to do in the future. I’m posting this as part of the travel link up with Emma, Kelly, Rebecca and their guest host Shikha and the topic is ‘Things You’d Never Do Again.’
Are there any nail biting experiences that you have experienced while travelling that have led you to think “never again!!!”?