8 Travel lessons I’ve learnt Through Bad experience
Believe me, I’m all for traveling. In fact, I consider myself to be a bit of a travel junkie; it’s my addiction. And whilst most of my travel experiences were simply amazing, I’ve also had my fair share of unpleasant travel experiences. After all,who hasn’t? Here’s the travel lessons I’ve learnt through those unforgettable experiences.
So, What travel Lessons did I learn?
1. Always be at the airport 1 or 2 hours before your flight is about to depart
Mother always said,” Always be at the airport 1 or 2 hours before.”And she was totally right. I should have listened to her wise words. Seriously guys and gals, whether you’ve booked a morning flight or an evening one, just don’t kid yourself. It’s always better to be at the airport one or two hours before the plane departs. Trust me, I learnt that the hard way.
Just a week ago, I went on holiday to London. Now I happen to know London incredibly well as I normally go to visit friends and family twice a year often catching flights to Luton, Gatwick or Heathrow.
Normally I always try to book an afternoon flight going back home. Yet, this time round I had no choice but to catch an early morning flight.
Now you’d think that the silver lining would be lack of traffic at such an early time. Yes, naively thoughts there wouldn’t be a car insight on the way to the airport. So, I opted to leave an hour and half before departure. But boy was I wrong.
Sure, there wasn’t as much traffic as rush hour but there was still loads. To further ice the cake, the family member who drove me (don’t get me wrong very grateful for the lift, if you happen to be reading this!) needed to purchase fuel before we made our way there. The first petrol station we went to had a system failure. Luckily, the second one was in full function mode. Nonetheless, this unplanned hurdle inevitably slowed us down.
Eventually after a grueling hour, I arrived at the airport departure queue. ‘Phew,’ I thought. That is until I saw the huge line. There I was, the last one in the line of about 50 bag-eyed grumpy people who stood in front of me patiently waiting for their turn to place their baggage on the conveyor belt and pass through the screening process. And with roughly 15 minutes left, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it. As I moved up in the queue, all sorts of things were running through my head. What if I were stopped? What if I missed my flight?
With great dismay, I reluctantly prepered myself to call my mother and tell her I wasn’t coming home that day. Yet, fortunately Lady Luck was on my side that day. I managed to pass through security with 5 minutes to spare. So, then I found myself searching for the screen to check which gate I had to go through. Gate number 2, it said. With 5 minutes to go, I had no choice but to run. And run I did with my hand luggage trailing behind me. Indeed, you should have seen me running to the gate like a mad woman – as if my life depended on it. But alas I made it and my panic eventually subsided. It could have been much worse though. Security could have stopped people, I may have not been able to run fast enough to the gate, or anything really. Oh well, it’s something to look back and laugh about now. Next time I’ll think further ahead. I don’t want to be running a marathon at the airport again.
2.have a travel plan B to get to your destination
No matter if a family member or friend has planned to pick you up from the airport/ train station or if you’ve planned to catch the bus or train to your destination, you should always have a plan b. Keep in mind that despite the daydream you might have had when thinking of your holiday, things don’t always turn out as planned. As the expression goes, shit happens. And sometimes it’s really really horrible.
I’ve been in situations were a relative has volunteered to pick me up, only to cancel a few hours before. Moreover, I’ve also been in situations in which I’ve booked a seat on a bus to take me to my destination and experienced flight delays and regrettably been unable to use my ticket. In both situations I’ve had to catch another former of transport. Fortunately for me, Internet and Google Maps were there to help. Without them, I would have been screwed. It would be wiser though to check what different methods of transport are actually available though pre your trip.
3. Always weigh your suitcase before you leave home
Before you travel, pack your suitcase wisely. Don’t over stuff it with things you don’t need or probably will wear on the off chance. It’s a silly thing to do, especially if you’re just taking a hand luggage on your journey. However, you can still go wrong with a regular suitcase, if you like to shop.
I once found myself catching an early flight back home from Scotland and upon arriving to check-in my luggage, it was 3kg overweight (I had packed the previous night after having been shopping that day). So, there I was panic striken in the airport trying to see what I was going to do with the extra contents of my luggage circled by complete strangers. As I tossed some clothes out and placed them in my already heavy hand luggage, zipped it up and weighed it again, I realised it was still overweight. This repeated itself about 3 times, until a kind man saw the worried look on my face and came to help my close it (doing so almost effortlessly). So, lesson learnt on my end; mum was right. I shouldn’t pack just as I’m about to leave. And I should always weigh my luggage before.
4. Buy travel insurance & hide cash in different places
It’s the ultimate nightmare – you travel to a new place and get robbed. It can happen anywhere really,but we all travel naively thinking it won’t happen to us. I once traveled to the Big Apple and lost my camera filled with photos. On a different trip to France, I was a victim of pick-pocketing whilst I was about to go out on a shopping trip. Had I been silly enough not to leave money at the hotel, I would have been skint for the whole holiday luckily I was not. But both occasions thought me a valuable lesson, always purchase insurance even if it means spending that bit more and hide cash in different places to avoid been caught without money just in case something horrible had to happen.
5. Take medicine with you
Getting sick isn’t fun on a regular day when you’re stuck at home. But being sick whilst on holiday or abroad on work is probably the worst. Unfortunately, it’s happened to me once or twice. On one occasion, I remember having to travel with a blocked nose and a high fever on a flight back home from London a few years ago. And god almighty was it painful. Not only was I coughing and sneezing, but I also experienced the most excruciating pain of my life on our descent – no joke. In fact, it was so painful that I literally felt like someone had shoved a screwdriver in both my ear and just started twisting and twisting. Of course, it was the effect of the pressure. But little did I know that it would be so painful. To make matters worse, once the pain subsided I couldn’t hear well for around two days. Now, I’ve learnt to follow my mother’s simple advice – carry painkillers, other medicine and your prescriptions just in case.
6. Never rely solely on plastic money
In this day and age, carrying a debit / credit card is a must. You really never know when you’re going to need one. But no matter how reliant you are on plastic money, you should never rely on this type of cash solely especially when you’re traveling.
There have been instances for example where I’ve been to ATMs, entered my PIN wrongly and the machine has taken my card only to be returned a week later. Likewise, there have also been times when I’ve entered my PIN correctly and the ATM has swallowed my card after a malfunction from the bank’s end. On a separate and far more worrying note, I recently also had the pleasure ( please pardon the sarcasm) of the bank phoning me up to let me know that they’ll need to change my card as I might have been a victim of fraud due to a little device having been attached to the machine. A friend of mine also had the oh-so-lovely experience of having €1000 transferred to an account after having shopped at a particular shop whilst abroad. So, yes people- sorry to say it, but fraud does occur. If you do use plastic money whilst abroad, you should always aim to use Internet banking and check on your account.
7. Always choose a window seat if you’ve got an early morning flight
Ever been on a 7 o’clock flight? Yes, I know it’s unpleasant. I’ve been there, done that and I bet you have too. Personally, I don’t love them one bit. Sure, they might be cheaper half the time. But the sheer memory of the last time I had to catch a flight that early makes me sigh as I type this article. Why? Well, for one thing I’m not a morning person on a regular day; let alone when I need to catch a morning flight and have to wake up at around 4.30 to prepare and head out.
Frankly, it’s tough to stay awake after I’ve finally made it on board the plane. And after being assigned an aisle seat so many times on these morning flights, I’ve finally concluded that it’s best to just pay that bit extra to make sure I get a window seat. Simply because it’s actually much easier to curl up and sleep.
8.Don’t Dress like the typical tourist Or You’ll Put a Target on Your Back
If you’re going out for the day, don’t make yourself stick out like a sore thumb. Ditch the fanny pack at the hotel. And whatever you do, don’t always walk around with your semi-professional camera constantly around your neck.
Yes, yes I get it. It’s fun to take photos whilst you’re on holiday. But believe me, you’ll be putting a target on your back, if you constantly walk around with it. It’s not the first time I’ve had a friend or relative tell me they’ve lost their camera or had it stolen whilst they were on holiday. Bottom line here is keep your camera safe and sound! After all would you want your gear AND your precious memories taken away from you in the blink of an eye?
Anyway guys and gals, hope you enjoyed this blog about travel lessons I’ve learnt through bad experiences. Always learn from personal experiences you’ve had when you travel, good or bad. Have you learnt anything from your travels? If you have, we’d love to hear from you, simply comment below!