3 Dumb A** Travel Mistakes I Continue to Make

I’ve just returned from my first trip to the West. I loved the heat and palm trees ( two things we just don’t have on the East Coast) but now that I’m back in the comfort of my bed, I can’t help thinking about how I could have made the trip better. Though I’ve been traveling for nearly two years and returned from my first solo trip overseas alive and with all my belongings, I still make mistakes…sometimes expensive ones.

Here’s some of the most recent travel mistakes I regret the most

Mistake #1:  Taking Emergency Cabs

photo credit:gettyimages.com

photo credit:gettyimages.com

Back in April, I was in Amsterdam. For a reason I don’t remember, I didn’t buy the round-trip train ticket from the airport to Central Station. Fast forward three days and I found myself at the station at  4 in the morning surrounded by closed customer service desks and with an American credit card that wouldn’t work in the  automated ticket booth. Because I also read my boarding pass wrong, I thought I had an hour to make my flight. Long story short, I ended up taking a 70 dollar cab ride to the airport.

A round trip ticket would have on caused me 16 US dollars.

I made a similar mistake leaving Vegas yesterday.

I had already scheduled a shuttle to take me to the airport and as my hotel was all the way at the other end of the strip, I caught a taxi to get me there in time. The driver, who only paused his phone conversation to ask me where I was going, drove halfway there before I told him the meter wasn’t running. He wanted me to pay him the “normal ” fare but I wasn’t using cash and just paid what the meter said.

I was too busy averting his death stare to check the seat as I normally do and I was at the airport before I realized I didn’t have my passport. It must have fallen out of my bag when I was searching for my wallet. After calling the cab company , the driver brought me my passport but , of course, the meter was about 15 dollars higher than it should have been. He had added the “normal” fare from before.

The cost of using my passport for a domestic trip and then leaving it in a questionable taxi? 50 US dollars.

Mistake #2:  Relying on ATMs

photocredit:gettyimages.com

photocredit:gettyimages.com

I was so excited to start traveling within the States because I figured it would be much cheaper. I made my budget and celebrated when I didn’t have to allot for exchange rates and conversion fees. What I should have thought about , was the fact that I’d be splitting taxis and checks and giving tips for ever service imaginable. The result was a handful of trips to the ATM and more than a handful of fees.

Mistake #3: Not Planning with Co-Travelers

photo credit: gettyimages.com

photo credit: gettyimages.com

When I’m solo, I don’t do much beforehand except for looking up directions. I have the whole day to do whatever I want, whenever I want and rarely leave a place without crossing the most important things off my to-do list. When you travel with others, as I did in Vegas , you not only have to take others’ interest into account but also their sleeping/eating/bathroom schedules, budget, and other eccentricities. Looking back, I feel like we only did a few of the things we planned on doing. Things I though would only take a few hours turned into half-day activities.

Next time, I’ll definitely sit down with co-travelers and have a solid plan before departure.

So, to my future self: take out cash before leaving, do not carry your passport on a domestic trip, and have a plan when traveling with others. And for the love of everything good in life, do whatever it takes to avoid taxis to the airport.

What are some of your travel mishaps …and how did you recover?

My Travel Reading List

My least favorite part of travel is always the “getting there” stage. whether by plane , train, or bus being stuck in a tiny seat and surrounded by strangers is never very comfortable. Luckily , I’ve found that another passion of mine – reading – is the perfect pastime. The hours seem to melt away and I can block everything and everyone out.

Here’s what I’ve been reading while  in transit .

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Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

A bi-racial detective discovers he can use magic  and must develop his skills as a demonic force causes the faces of London’s innocents to fall off.

I liked it so much that I already have the sequel , Moons Over Soho, packed in my bag for the next flight.

Half-Bad by Sally Green

A product of a good white witch and the most evil black witch , a boy has to fight through a childhood of  torture to figure out where he belongs.

This was gory and entertaining but I don’t know if I liked it enough to pick up the second book in the series.

The Hiding Place BY Corrie Ten Boom

The true story of Corrie Ten Boom, a Christian who was sent to a concentration camp for hiding Jews in her home during the Nazi occupation of Holland.

I read this once in middle school but decided to have a reread after visiting the house in Amsterdam. I would recommend  reading this on a long overnight trip, when there’s plenty of time to think and the darkness will hide any tears.

 

What have you all been reading?

Top-Ten Tuesday: Forgotten Travel Moments

In an attempt to become a more active blogger, I’ve started a new series . Every Tuesday, I’ll be posting a top-ten list about something related to the travel/expat world.

I was looking through old travel photos and they brought back many memories and untold stories . I’ve decided to share.

                                                                        1. Granada , Spain 

An interesting statue in the gardens of the Alhambra. ( Granada, Spain)

An interesting statue in the gardens of the Alhambra. ( Granada, Spain)

                                                                                2. Orlando, Florida 

Just after feeding the gators.( Orlando, FL)

Just after feeding the gators.( Orlando, FL)

                                                                3. London, England

Snapping street signs to find our way back once we realized we were getting  lost.

Snapping street signs to find our way back once we realized we were getting lost. ( London, England)

                                                            4. Seoul, South Korea

Performers relaxing before a flag ceremony. (Seoul, South Korea)

Performers relaxing before a flag ceremony.
(Seoul, South Korea)

                                                         5. Dover , DE

Stumbled upon this thing at the Firefly Music Festival. (Dover, DE)

Stumbled upon this thing at the Firefly Music Festival. (Dover, DE)

                                                                                       6. London, England

One of many failed selfies with my bff and travel buddy. (London, England)

One of many failed selfies with my bff and travel buddy. (London, England)

                  7. Toledo , Spain

This breathtaking view on a tour bus in Toledo , Spain

This breathtaking view on a tour bus in Toledo , Spain

                                                                                       8. Morocco, Africa

Watching a rug "show" in Morocco. Before taking this , the shopkeeper pointed to me said I looked like I knew Arabic. He tried several times to start a convo with me in Arabic and seemed very annoyed when I couldn't respond.  (Morocco, Africa)

Watching a rug “show” in Morocco. Before taking this , the shopkeeper pointed to me said I looked like I knew Arabic. He tried several times to start a convo with me in Arabic and seemed very annoyed when I couldn’t respond.
(Morocco, Africa)

                                                                                     9. Beijing, China

Found this fun little guy at the Beijing Zoo.

Found this fun little guy at the Beijing Zoo.

                                                                                      10. Beijing, China

A children's camp followed us around the Forbidden City before finally asking for a picture. You can just make me out in the back.

A children’s camp followed us around the Forbidden City before finally asking for a picture. You can just make me out in the back.

 

I would love for this an interactive type of tag so I tag EVERY READER to contribute their own travel moment photos or a top-ten list.

Caution: South Korea Thus Far

I could perfectly describe my Korean experiences so far in one word:overwhelming. That’s not to say it’s been bad at all-I’m learning and seeing new things every  day and that is, after all, what I came here for. But sometimes when the things that were so simple and easy back home-like getting a cell phone,swiping a bus card, or even getting home- takes so much extra time and effort, it’s easy to be exhausted. I also think I’m realizing that I’m going to be here for at least a year, which means I don’t have to rush anything.

How I Feel I Need To Be At The mOMENT

How I Feel I Need To Be At The Moment

When I was in Spain, I accepted every invitation and took every weekend trip I could because I knew I only had six short months-just a handful of school breaks- to see Europe. While a year can go by just as quickly, I’ve decided that I can ease into this transition. It’s okay that I didn’t KTX train to Seoul within the first month or that I couldn’t order a meal in Korean if I was starving. Being so new and having no idea what is going on or what I’m doing is an icky feeling, but it’s part of being a true expat. So, I embrace it.

I’ve come up with some personal goals to help me ease into this new experience. Maybe they can help others in the same situation.

5. Learn the Language

I’m starting my second week of Hangul classes. Fluency is too much to ask for; I’m just hoping to no longer be illiterate in Korean  by the end of it.

4. Stop focusing on “I”

I feel like I have too much time to think ponder the meaning of life, how I should know it by now, and every embarrassing moment since 4th grade. So, I want to find activities- like volunteering,yoga,freelance- to fill the void.

3. Build “Girl and Her Pink Backpack”

This is an amazing opportunity to travel so I want to see as much as possible and record even more for others to experience also.That brings me to the next goal…

2.TRAVEL

On the weekends and during vacations , I want to see Korea and Asia.

1. Be comfortable with the process

I’m not going to learn the language overnight, be the perfect teacher by tomorrow night, or be up for every outing every time. That’s okay. I’m here-I’m going to take advantage of it. That’s all that matters in the end, right?

Oh, Korea. I will try!

Oh, Korea. I will try!

Do you have any tips for settling into a new place?

International Love

It’s a bit creepy , but whenever I see newlywed couples posing in front of landmarks I can’t help but snap a quick picture. Sometimes the couples hold the pose so nosey people like me can take a photo–when they do, I definitely  take advantage of the opportunity. Here are some pictures I took of couples celebrating their love around the world. *

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

Paris, France

Paris, France

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Rome, Italy

Alhambra in Granada, Spain

Alhambra in Granada, Spain

 

I wasn’t sure if I should post these pictures seeing as I don’t know the people personally. Since it’s not for commercial use, I figured it would be fine but if someone requests the removal on the behalf of these people I will remove them right away. 🙂

Blog Awards & The Pink Expat is Moving!

I hope the old saying, “Better late than never” still rings true because this post is long, long overdue. I thought the best way to start a new year of blogging is to catch up on old business. So, here is my delayed thanks to those who have gifted me with awards in the past months. The givers probably don’t even remember selecting me for these but it means a lot that people are still reading, commenting, and liking this blog enough to share, even though the posts have been quite sparse lately.

Let’s get it started.

First, the lovely peeps over at Cultfit gave me The Inspiring Blog Award.

cultfit-inspiring1

 I was really happy to receive this one, mainly because one of my goals with this blog was to encourage and be encouraged by travel. There are no specific rules for this – which I find refreshing so I will just list a few blogs below that inspire me in some way.

1)    The Redhead Chronicles -> Funny and relatable lists, rants, and observations from a follow 20-somehing trying to navigate through life. I initially followed because the author reminded me of my redheaded BFF Nat but I stay for the humor .

2)    Write 2 Be -> As a writer/journalist just starting out, I find plenty of advice and encouragement from Ms. Jimmetta  .

3)    Wholeheartedness -> An endless collection of feel good quotes. Seeing these on my reader makes me smile, even on bad days.

 

Next up, Snigdha of GetSetAndGo nominated me for Kreativ Blogger Award.

kreativ_blogger_award_copy

I’ve been following her for a while and spent many hours exploring India on her blog. It’s great being noticed by the people you notice.  

This award asks for 7 interesting facts about 7 nominees and me.

We’ll start with the nominees:

1)    Transplanted Tatar  -> Good ole’ fashioned travel blog featuring stateside and international destinations. Plenty of great photos to see too.

2)    All Around Ana -> I read for the honest & entertaining posts about teaching English in Saudi Arabia.

3)    Full Moon Africa -> Great for planning fantasy trips to the mother continent. I added lots of things from this site to my “ to-do” list.

4)    Food.Life.Zen -> Gorgeous pictures from a fellow Spain-lover and world traveler.

5)    The Harrises of Chicago -> Beautiful photos of international trips as well as their native Chicago.

6)    Inside Public Minds -> Well-written and informative commentary on today’s political, social, & other “touchy” issues.

7)    For The Intolerants -> There’s a little about everything here: travel, life, food etc. Dedicated to finding the less popular aspects of life.

 

Now, the 7 interesting facts:

1) I had a dream and now I want to write a book about aliens. Do I have any knowledge or prior interest about aliens? Nope. But I’m easily inspired.

2) I’m really into mythology. Particularly, the Greek myths and Native American legends.

3) My favorite poet is Langston Hughes.

4) I hate the word “Savory”.

5) I’ve been afraid of escalators since getting stuck on one when I was eight years old.

6) My favorite city is London.

7) I’M MOVING TO SOUTH KOREA! Since coming back from Spain, I’ve been working on a plan to go abroad again. After a long year’s worth of work and several (hundreds) moments of desperation, I finally made it happen. In February, I’m moving to Gyeonbuk, South Korea to teach English as an EPIK teacher. I know there are tons of blogs dedicated to EPIK teachers in South Korea but I could hardly find any about teachers living in Gyeonbuk. Hopefully, I’ll be able to bring you guys some unique posts about places and things you’ve never seen before. I’ve never been to Asia before but as always, I’m down for the adventure. And I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Why I Blame Disney for My Wanderlust

In one of my first posts, I described succumbing to wanderlust after a semester abroad. The need-not desire but need- to travel was so intense and abrupt that I figured it was some minute part of my DNA that was bound to overtake me one day; I would have been attracted to a life of traveling even if I had never left my hometown.

Then, I spent a day re-watching some of my favorite Disney movies. In an afternoon I watched a misfit find happiness in Paris, an orphan travel from the UK to New York City in an oversized piece of fruit, and a long-lost king reclaim his throne in Africa. That’s when it hit me: I wasn’t born to travel. Disney brainwashed a sense of travel into me! To be honest, it was through their movies that I was first exposed to the far away places I desire to experience now. While the movies aren’t the most accurate of travel guides, they introduced me to foreign landmarks and cultures that I would later recognize during my travels. The stories -as outlandish as they were- got my imagination going and made the unconventional career of a professional traveler seem possible.

I’m not quite there yet but another thing that Disney taught me is that the unusual always wins. Especially if there’s singing involved.

Below are the top 5 Disney movies responsible for my Wanderlust .

5. James and the Giant Peach

imdb. com

imdb. com

This story of a neglected orphan who, along with a handful of insect friends, travels across the sea in a giant magical peach always intrigued me for some reason. This was probably my first encounter with NYC being the “land of dreams” and the happiness James and his new family finds there is enough to make the city seem magical to young and old.

4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

imdb.com

imdb.com

When I visited the Notre Dame Cathedral last year I wasn’t thinking about how beautiful of an archaeological feat it is. I took one look at it, pointed, and squealed, “Quasimodo’s House!”. I was around 5 when this movie came out so it was probably my first introduction to Paris, the Cathedral, and Victor Hugo’s tale of the deformed bell-ringer who lived inside its towers.

3. Mulan

thepinkexpat.com

amazon.com

I was obsessed with Mulan for years and had the collector dolls to prove it. The most memorable scene for me is of the title character defeating the villains with fireworks in The Imperial City. I see other bloggers documenting their visits here and can’t wait to do the same.

2. Aladdin

amazon.com

amazon.com

I never knew the exact location of Aladdin but it’s obviously someplace in the Middle East. My favorite scene is when Aladdin takes Princess Jasmine on a magic carpet ride around the world. They pass by the Pyramid, watch the fireworks over, the Forbidden City, and even see some future ruins of Greece.

1. The Lion King

thepinkexpat.com

amazon.com

The lucky animals in this movie not only talk but also live among some of the most beautiful backgrounds in animation history. Because of this movie, I’ve always thought of Africa as a lush, beautiful place. When I do get to Africa, I want to go on a Safari and, most likely, I will be the annoying one calling all the lions “Simba”.

What movies inspired your travel addiction ?

5 Reasons to Spend Harry Potter Weekend in Chestnut Hill,PA

The one and only Dumbledore

For one weekend a year, the neighborhood of Chestnut Hill transforms from a quirky, quaint shopping and hangout spot to a life – sized version of the Harry Potter world. Overnight, the shops lining cobble-stoned Germantown Avenue adopt magical names … Continue reading

A Travel Bucket List: Halloween Edition

I was poking around travel sites, as I tend to do, and noticed more and more lists of top Halloween Destinations. With that in mind, I decided to make my own bucket list of places to visit during Halloween. Hopefully, … Continue reading

Spanish Memories : Finding Cinderella in Segvoia

Segovia Alcazar

Looking through my photos , I realize that there were a lot of outings from Spain I forgot to share.  With assistance from said photographs, my memories, a journal,  and Google, I’m going to attempt to relive those outings with … Continue reading