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
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
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
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?