Oh, the things that happen on the road…travel mistakes – Indie 30, Day 4

Oh, the things that happen on the road…travel mistakes – Indie 30, Day 4

Bootsnall prompt: Everyone makes mistakes. We forget to ask for Coke without ice in Mexico and spend the rest of the trip in the bathroom. Or we arrive at the airport for a 7pm flight only to realize the flight left at 7am. Tell us the story of your worst travel mistake.


I make lots of mistakes when I travel. We all do. So this prompt should have been easy, right? Wrong. It means there’s a long list of stories I could tell you.

Like how, on my first time in a non-English speaking country I didn’t understand this man’s accent who was trying to sell a painting to me at the top of the Spanish Steps. I said to him in my practiced Italian, “Parla Inglese?” He looked at the foolish 14-year-old in front of him and said, “This is English that I am speaking to you.” Doh. But the painting I bought from him hangs on my living room wall (a purchase that was not a mistake).

Me, age 14, at the top of the Spanish Steps, just minutes before or after the mistake above

Or I could tell you about taxis in London. My friends and I arrived on a flight from Pisa to London-Stansted on Ryanair around midnight and then took a bus into London, which arrived at a bus station in the city center around 2:30 a.m. Needless to say, we were exhausted and disoriented. We stood outside the bus for a few moments deciding whether to take a taxi or the Tube. We looked at our watches and decided on a taxi because we figured that even if the Underground was running, we were to bleary-eyed to figure it out. Just then, a man came over and told us he was a taxi driver. Things got very blurry at that point as he talked very quickly. I had a bad feeling about him, but didn’t protest too loudly because I was so bewildered. Before we knew what happened, he had taken one of my friends bags and put it in the back of his station wagon. He proceeded to try for other bags. And somehow, we ended up in the back seat of his car. And this other man was drinking whiskey in the front seat. They charged us 40 pounds (10 pounds each) to take us to our hostel. I was freaking out the entire time. I demanded a receipt, which (amazingly) they happily gave. The words at the bottom? “Always use a licensed cab.”

Our taxi did not look like this…

The biggest one was probably not asking for a different room at our lodge near the Grand Canyon when the heat wasn’t working. I may have had hypothermia. There were hallucinations. My roommate (my dear friend Janeen who also had the misfortune of being in the aforementioned taxi) wrapped me in all my clothes and cuddled with me under all the blankets and her sleeping bag while I shook from the cold. She told me I was definitely not all there and kept asking her to sing with me…

Hiking in the Grand Canyon the next day. I’m the one on the left in my Grand Canyon fleece. Janeen has a matching one because we didn’t pack warmly enough to begin with…do you see a theme to this trip?

But the mistake I’ve made too many times (and made later on the Grand Canyon trip) is NOT doing things. No matter what injuries I’ve incurred, money I’ve spent (or had stolen), or sleep I’ve lost, I’ve always been glad that I went – that I did it. Maybe I’m not glad I got in that mysterious taxi, but I’m glad I went to London, that I survived, and that the driver handed me such a hilarious reciept. Even when you make the mistake of doing something, you usually have a fun story to tell later.

What are your most hilarious travel mistakes?

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