There’s not too much to say…
I fail, we all fail, and it burns… Nobody likes to fail.
Especially my most recent fail, as it was such a newbie mistake (#5 really is the worst!). I still can’t believe how hard I failed. It’s embarrassing. It’s OK, I’m finally opening up about my miserable moments so others can laugh at…with?… me and learn from my mistakes.
There’s no proper introduction…
Here are my most epic travel fails
#1 Bahtless at the border
Have you ever convinced yourself of something by accident and then realized it was wrong? That’s what happened to me one time in Thailand. I had a three-month visa and during those three months, I had the date I needed to leave the country by… or so I thought… in my head and reminded myself often.
I’m not one to overstay my visa ever! I’m not messing with that, especially in Thailand, a place I’ve called home for years.
So, the day before of my expiry date came and I was ready to do my little border run. I also go the day before expiry just in case, you never know!
I know how the drill goes as I’ve done it a million time. Bus to the borders, walk into Malaysia, walk back to Thailand, get on the bus, go home. Done.
Well, this time it went a bit differently because I went to “check out” of Thailand and they said the dreaded words…
“You’ve overstayed… By two days!! WHAT?!
Surely there was a mistake, there’s no way I overstayed. I’m really good at keeping track of this stuff! But they snapped me out of my denial pretty quickly when they showed how I, indeed, obviously overstayed by two days.
Fuck, OK… Fine! I know how to pay a fine, it’s not that big of a deal. 1000B ($30USD) fine, 500B per day.
Oh well, not the end of the world.
…except I had almost no cash on me and cash is all they take and there’s not an ATM in sight.
What do I even do now? It costs money to get the bus all the way out here and it kills my entire day. I’m not doing this strenuous journey again tomorrow! Plus, it would add another day of overstay!
What do I even do now?!
… And in comes, a guy from my bus doing the same thing I’m doing, a border run, and he see my face.
He asks me what’s up and without even hesitating, he hands me the 1000B note. An FREAKIN ANGEL this man was! What a savior!
All was fine and well, except the dog our van hit on the way home (AWFUL!)… Oh, and like everything that happened this day.
My new friend from Sweden and I went out for beers, I paid him back, and all was good.
Oh, and this wasn’t even the full story! The whole trip was an epic travel fail. >>> Full story of my Thailand border run fail.
#2 Bank charges out the butt
This one was a perpetual ass beating that I did to myself for a year or so. I totally deserved it because I’m just a total dumbass and figured bank charges were normal and that’s what you have to deal with.
AMERICANS- Bank charges DON’T HAVE TO BE NORMAL!
If you’re not American, find the equivalent for your country, you might have one!
This fail is short and sweet… Don’t be like me, get a Charles Schwab card RIGHT NOW. I’m talking from experience, they have not sponsored this message in any way, just go get one. They don’t charge bank fees or ATM fees! You can go to literally any ATM you want without any worries.
If I had only known about this before! I’ve been using them for the year now, but it was a mistake that could have saved me a good chunk of change if I got it in the very beginning. It’s SO embarrassing but I went without a CS account for about two years. I refuse to see how much bank charges I got. Every time I went to the ATM it was $10!!! SHAMEFUL!!!
My F-ups are your tickets to NOT having epic travel fails. You’re welcome.
#3 Naive Thai tourist
This one was just stupid but not THAT big of a fail. I only had been in Thailand a few months when this one happened, but I knew of the typical Bangkok scams, I just didn’t realize it was a scam until we were in it. Oops.
It started with me and a friend looking a bit lost and a “nice Thai’ coming up to us to help us. As the scam goes, they tell you the place you want to go to (usually a temple) is closed, but they will recommend you go somewhere else. He flags us down a tuk tuk and guess what?! Today tuk tuks are free because *insert stupid nonexistent holiday that they make up!*
Wow, what luck, thanks, dude!
Not sure why alarms didn’t go off for me, I was being naïve and all my experiences with Thais until this point have been so positive and helpful, why would this man be any different?
We get in the tuk tuk and the scam begins. He brings us to some random temple we didn’t ask for, but we actually didn’t mind, it was really pretty, so why not? We wander around and get back in the same tuk tuk. Then he takes us to the real goal for him – a tailor shop. We immediately shoot him down. he tells us just go to look. We amuse him and literally walk in, do a circle around the shop, and walk out. This took about 2 minutes, and we demanded to go to the destination we wanted to go.
He took us, we enjoyed the temple, and when we came out, he had left. So who really got scammed here? Granted we wasted a whole two minutes at the tailor shop, but we got a free ride to two temples. I’d say we won that one actually.
Luckily, we weren’t typical tourists and didn’t have like one day to explore Bangkok and he just wasted our day. We lived there and didn’t care at all. So this would be a massive fail for those who had limited time. It was still a fail for me though because, really, Nina? How silly could you be? Not sure why I didn’t sniff that one out earlier, but at the end of the day, I had been living in Thailand only a few months and I didn’t really see Bangkok yet. I just caught on a little late.
#4 China’s ATMs suck balls
Oh, hey! Did you know ATM cards don’t always work in China? Well, now you do. I had checked and my card works everywhere, including China (remember? Charles Schwab for the win!). It’s a VERY travel-friendly card and I’ve never ever had a problem with it. Ever.
I got money out at the Beijing airport and everything was fine. Garrett did too and he used another ATM from a different bank. Why would we think there would be a problem later?
Well, I wish we did! Because we almost got royally fucked in the middle of nowhere-China with literally not one Yuan to our name! We made the long trek out here to see The Great Wall of China and we’re not even going to see it now?! FML!
Our cards just simply didn’t work at the ONLY three ATMs in the small town we were in. Uhm……. WHAT!?
Luckily, again, the world usually sorts itself out and we made it out unscathed with the exception of our pride in being well-traveled. Just goes to show, no matter how well-traveled you are, the world is never done teaching you! If you want to know the full story and how we got miraculous saved… Here’s a separate post on that incredible story. It’s worth the read. You get to laugh at my fail and then get your faith in humanity restored!
Oh gosh. I just remembered another fail. We crashed our drone on The Great Wall! We have video proof too 🙁 Beijing was kinda of a mess all together for us. Even before we got there! Which leads me to…
#5 Layover from HELL
This is my most recent and massive fail to date… Like.it’s possibly the worst most nightmarish one for a traveler. And because I’m a decently traveled person ( six continuous years and counting…) Not only did this one burn, but it’s extremely embarrassing as well. I’m absolutely mortified because I’m not a rookie and I made a rookie mistake.
I’m so annoyed and upset with myself, it’s my dumbest mistake to date… UHHHH! This is even painful to write. Again, it’s such a stupid mistake. I’m SO embarrassed… but OK OK… Here we go…
It all started in Budapest actually, when I nearly caused us to miss our flight. I had Monday in my head, but THANKFULLY I double checked Sunday morning to find out our flight was Sunday evening. Idiot.. And perhaps an ironic twist to our next problem…
We made our flight that evening which was to Moscow for a long six-hour layover before we landed at our final destination, Beijing. We decided to nap during the six-hour layover (something I’d kick myself for later) because it was really late at night and we were exhausted.
We hear our plane being called for boarding, finally, and we do nothing. We hate to be those people first in line. Something else I’d kick myself for later…
Finally, the line has dwindled down and we get up to a board. The crew asks us for our China visa, but we told them we were doing the 72-hour visa-free access, no problem. OK, they said, let’s see your onward flight.
No problem, we pull it up on our phone and show them. We timed it perfectly, just under 72 hours just in case there were any issues. I’m a traveler. I’m SOOOO PREPARED… Please, let me go take my seat, you’re wasting your time. I’m awesome, just let me through, I know what I’m doing…
OoooOOOohhhhhhh how wrong I was!
The gentleman said this flight wasn’t valid and asked us to step to the side.
Uhm, excuse me? Say what now?
The flight wasn’t valid because our departing flight had a layover in China before landing in Seoul, our next stop. This was a no-no to qualify for the 72-hour visa. A rule that had completely slipped my mind. I literally didn’t even realize this flight had a layover. We booked so many recently, we rarely care about layovers because at the end of the day, as long as it’s the cheapest flight and not a layover that requires a visa, who cares? Right?
SO SO SOOOOO WRONG, NINA! How did you not see this? How did you F this up? How, why, WTF!
Frantically, as Garrett stood there trying to reason with the dude, which I knew was futile, I pull out my laptop to buy another onward ticket right now, to freaking ANYWHERE and at ANY cost. This leg was our most expensive leg and I wasn’t going to miss this flight. There’s no way.
I was shaking, a nervous wreck, a total and complete mess. I clicked like a crazy woman not looking or checking anything just to book a flight. I saw “direct” and clicked what I thought was that flight…
Click, click, done. Flight booked, we WIN! Here ya go, sir… This is our new ticket, no problem, right?
What is this? A layover in CHINA AGAIN?!?! Shut the fuck up, get out of here, there’s NO way I just did that, right?
Yep, it happened. I bought ANOTHER ticket with a layover in China. What I think happened was I was clicking too quickly and other flights loaded “on top of” the initial flight I saw and I clicked a different flight. I KNOW I saw “direct” so it must have been that another flight populated as I impatiently did NOT wait for the full page to load.
Totally fucked. Goodbye plane…There goes our flight…
We’re literally stuck in the Moscow airport, because while I’m being a stupid traveler right now, I know I can’t leave this terminal without a Russian visa! FML!
What even just happened? I wanted to throw something, iI wanted to scream, I wanted to curse out China for their incredibly dumb and stupid fucking rule, but all I could do was walk away from the gate with my tail between my legs.
What now? Garrett wanted to just go sit down and chill and think, but that’s not me at all. Time is of the essence! Who knows? Maybe there’s some way to kinda fix this?
Luckily, I went to the help desk for our airline and talked them into getting us on the next flight to Beijing for free! They were actually amazing. All we had to do was actually show them our VALID flight out of China, with no China layovers.
OK, that issue was fixed and we had about 9 hours to figure the rest out. Perfect.
Now I need to figure out what to do with these two flights that we can’t use, and then purchase a third (and final) flight out.
I’ll try to make the rest of this story short…
We bought a valid flight so we were granted our tickets to fly to Beijing, that was sorted. OK, good.
But those two tickets that we couldn’t use were bothering me. I’m not paying for THREE tickets (six tickets since there’s two of us) and only use one! The one we purchased ages ago was likely not going to help us, but the one I JUST bought would maybe feel sorry for me and let me change it/cancel and get a new one.
I called them less than an hour after purchasing practically crying and asking for compassion. They said “no refunds no changes” but come on! This was quite a special case here where I was purchasing essentially under duress, surely they could have some nice customer service and make a small exception. I would be fine for them to keep my money just change the flight to one that didn’t have a layover, or even better, charge me for a change. Anything!
I spent hours on the phone and via email begging them – They wouldn’t budge.
BUT I won in the end because I disputed the charge with my bank and I got my money back. A $360 win for me! That would have been quite the shitty chunk of change to just throw away on top of the other flight that was long gone.
OH! And the icing on the cake? When we went to board the flight to Beijing, guess what? We decided to get up right away and board immediately. We were “those people” who were waiting in line before they even officially said, “we’re boarding.” And…The bitch didn’t even ask for our onward flight. Are you kidding me?! It was totally different staff and they were supposed to check, but DIDN’T! I wanted to scream. Uh!
In the end, we spent about 35 hours in an airport or on a plane between Budapest and Beijing. It was awful.
So, kids! No matter how experienced a traveler you are – Check those layover and flight times and most certainly visa requirements! This was a nightmare to deal with. And – seriously so embarrassing. Seriously, I write about this type of stuff all day! I should know better! The most epic brain fart award of 2017 goes to ME!
You live and you learn, and maybe you can even laugh a bit after it’s all said and done. I can. As stupid as these are, I laugh about it now and don’t resent myself for making these dummy mistakes. It happens. I just hope it doesn’t happen again.
Somethings I WILL say…
- I’ve been on the road, living abroad, and traveling for six years now. If this is my most epic list of travel fails, I’d say I’m doing pretty good!
- Everyone makes mistakes. Even when they think they are good at something. At least I can admit it…kinda… ::le sigh::
Do me a favor and share these awful yet epic travel fails so people can share in laughing at my misery and learn not to do what I did.
What’s been your most epic travel fail?
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Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her sassy yet informative blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to work abroad to live a more adventurous life. If you want to travel longer you have to work to wander.