As a solo traveler, all of the responsibility falls on yourself. It’s never guaranteed that you will have someone there to prevent you from doing something stupid. While I have made lots of wrong decisions while traveling, I thought I would share what I would consider my “dumbest mistakes”. Luckily, the mistakes that I’ve made were small in comparison to what they could’ve been. I have always tried to be safe, and never put myself in a situation where I could be harmed. But mistakes are inevitable, so I thought I would share them with you, in hopes that you will learn something and not make the same ones as me.
Scammed in Bangkok
I had just taken an eight hour bus ride from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Bangkok, Thailand by myself. As I was getting off the bus, multiple men came up to us while we were getting our bags and tried to get us to go with them in a cab. This is how it works in most countries in Southeast Asia- so I didn’t think twice about it. As soon as we started walking, I knew I had made the wrong decision. The man led me through knee deep water (it was flooding in Bangkok) to another parking lot outside of the bus terminal. He was also holding my backpack. When I tried to ask for my bag back so that I could walk away from him, he persisted and kept walking with it.
He started negotiating with me in U.S dollars (this is a big red flag) and by this point, I decided to just go with it because it was too late. I knew I was already getting scammed. He led me to the cab which was clearly fake, and an older man who barely spoke english was my driver. At this point I had agreed to pay about 20 U.S dollars like an idiot. I paid about 15 in U.S dollars, and we agreed to stop at an ATM so I could take out Thai Baht and pay the rest. When we pulled up to the ATM, I lied and said my debit card was in my backpack, which they had locked in the trunk. When he opened the trunk, I grabbed my backpack and ran without paying him the rest of the money, and hopped in a real taxi. Lesson to be learned- when in Bangkok- NEVER negotiate for taxis; always make sure they have a meter and that they are legitimate.
Debit card disaster
I was so flustered after the fake taxi fiasco, that when I eventually went to the ATM to pay my new cab driver, I walked away and left my debit card in the machine. You might be thinking, “what an idiot.” HOWEVER, the ATM machines in Thailand give you your money first, and then you have to wait a few seconds before your card comes out, which I wasn’t used to. To make matters worse, I did the same thing with my other debit card in Chiang Mai, and was left debitcard-less in a country that revolves mostly on cash only transactions. Thank GOD that at this point I had met up with my friend, and she was able to spot me some cash until my new debit card came in the mail.
Wrong airport? No, wrong city.
This one still pisses me off. I was looking up multi-city round trip flights between Australia and New Zealand. I wanted to book the first flight from Sydney into Queenstown, and then my returning flight from Christchurch, into Melbourne. Because I had been switching back and forth so much between Sydney and Melbourne, I didn’t realize that I left the wrong city in the search bar. I ended up booking my flight from Sydney, even though I was flying out of Melbourne. When I showed up at the airport and realized that I was without a flight, my emotions took over. I spent about an hour crying and arguing with the airlines to try and get some of my money back, but I was out of luck.
I eventually had to book a flight that day, and lose all the money that I spent on the other one. Because I had booked my flight so last minute, I ended up getting red flagged in customs in New Zealand. I spent an hour watching someone search my entire bag, and question all of the travels I had done previously. It was a pretty horrible day, and probably one of the dumbest mistakes I’ve made, but I’ll never make that mistake again.
In many parts of the world, riding motorbikes is much more common than driving cars. In Southeast Asia, its very common for tourists to rent motorbikes to be able to independently travel and explore cities. I had been in Asia for about a month at this point, but I still hadn’t attempted riding a motorbike. I decided one day that I was going to try, even though I was terrified. What I didn’t know, was that it was 10x harder to control a bike with someone on the back of it, especially if you’ve never even ridden one before. So of course, I got on with someone else on the back, and drove about 10 feet before I fell off of it. I ended up scraping up my leg and breaking the side mirror of the bike. I was very lucky that I wasn’t badly injured, and that I had only done minimal damage to the bike.
Overdrawn in Singapore
I had two days in Singapore. When I arrived at the airport, I had still not taken out Singapore dollars and was looking for an ATM machine. I realized that I didn’t check the exchange rate between Australian dollars and Singapore dollars, but I decided that I was going to be lazy, and just wing it. I took out 200 Singapore dollars, thinking it wouldn’t be worth much. Turns out, it was very close to 200 Australian dollars. I took out 200 dollars for 2 days, which was way over my budget. Face palm. “Thats okay though, I’ll just exchange back the money that I have left over!” Wrong. The next day I went out to the rooftop bar in the Marina Bay Sands hotel. I ended up paying 25 dollars for one drink, and then I bought another one. Double face palm. This might not seem like a huge mistake. However, when you’re traveling on a budget, making sure you have enough money to last your entire trip is incredibly important.
I traveled around the world for a year and a half with my GoPro without losing it, all while staying in hostels. This, to me, is a pretty spectacular feat. I had been uploading my photos only to my GoPro app, because I wasn’t traveling with a computer. However, all of the videos that I recorded were in a high resolution format. This meant that I couldn’t transfer them to my phone using the app, and had to wait until I got home to upload them. So much was going on when I got home, that it didn’t even cross my mind to download all of my videos right away. New Years Eve rolled around and I went on a ski trip with friends in Vermont. Of course, I decide to bring my GoPro.
It had been a solid 4 years since I had skied, and I was pretty rusty. I fell a bunch of times, and by the end of the day, I realized that my GoPro was gone. Yes, this means that I lost a year an a half of footage from my travels around the world. To this day, I still call up the lost and found in hopes that someone might’ve found it and handed it in.
So there you have it, some of the dumbest mistakes I’ve made while traveling. What are some of the dumbest mistakes you’ve made while on your travels? Let me know in the comments below!