Oh the mistakes we made and lessons we learned in 2015… While most people are looking back on their best travel moments of the year, I would like to show you the other side of the picture. Sometimes, life can seem pretty damn perfect when you look at it from a social media perspective. We all try to look our best when the world is watching. However, we also know that the reality is not always what it appears to be in pictures. We had our fair share of wonderful vacations in 2015 which you know if you read this blog or follow us on Instagram. But, alas, we also had our fair share of epic travel fails. Prepare for a good old laugh and hopefully you can learn a thing or two in the meanwhile!
Always have some cash on hand// It’s the last day of your trip before you return home, so you don’t want to be left with too much cash that will be redeemed useless once you’re home. However, keeping the bare minimum of cash can be handy. On our last evening in Montenegro, I spent the last cash we had on ice-cream. I believed we could wing it for those last three hours. Unfortunately we had to take one last ferry which – of course – could only be paid in cash. A 45-minute detour later we found a bank and could finally start our trip back home. Remember that you can’t pay with card everywhere and therefore always keep some cash on hand, just in case 😉
Don’t trust your GPS blindly, use a good old map to keep an overview// When being on a road trip, a GPS can easily become your new best friend. It becomes your trusted guide on these foreign roads. But sometimes you can also trust your GPS too much. When driving towards the Skocjan caves in Slovenia, we entered the nearest village in our GPS. Little did we know, there were two villages with that name at the exact same distance from Ljubljana, one in the East and one in the West! Not using our brains (it was still early morning to our defense) we embarked on our trip. After arriving at our destination, we found ourselves in an empty little village in the Slovenian countryside with no caves in sight. If we had used a map (and our brains) we would have immediately noticed we were going in the wrong direction. Therefore, always use a good old map to keep an overview of your trip, so you can see the different between East and West for example 🙂
A road trip shouldn’t go on and on and on// We went on 4 big road trips this year (Denmark, Oman, South-East Europe and Morocco). This gave us some massive insights in what type of itinerary is the best when planning your trip upfront. Make sure you plan to take regular stops and leave enough time to impulsively hop out of the car and explore. When you plan to drive a long stretch in one day, make sure to switch driver every 2-3 hours, don’t drive longer than 12 hours and stay awake together when darkness falls! That’s a lesson we learned the hard way… Always keep in mind that a holiday should be relaxing and not tiring.
Don’t wear jeans when riding a dromedary// I was never a big fan of riding any kind of animal but when we found ourselves in the desert of Morocco, we had to embark on a fantastic sunset ride into the desert. I never rode an animal for a long time before so I was quiet the newbie in this area. Cowboys do ride horses all the time and they wear jeans so I figured wearing my distressed jeans would be the perfect item to wear. Naïve me. 2 hours and a very sore bottom later, I learned that getting your insights from Lucky Luke isn’t the best way to go.
Always check the opening hours// You traveled a long ways to get to a specific location, preferably somewhere tropical with good weather. Getting some culture in the trip is always a good idea, so you plan to visit some of the main monuments. That’s how our discovery of Muscat in Oman started out. One of the architectural highlights of the city is the Grand Mosque of Sultan Qaboos. The parking lot was relatively empty when we arrived at 11 AM. All the people leaving the building could have been an indication that something was wrong, if we had paid attention to them that is. When we arrived at the gate, we learned that the mosque is only open between 8 and 11 AM for non-Muslims. So there we stood, at the gates of one of the most magnificent mosques in the region, unable to go in. Luckily for us, we could easily return another day but it was nevertheless an epic travel fail. So on these marble stones of the entrance gate, we vowed to always check the opening hours from that moment onward.
Be very precise on where you are going to meet up// Meeting up in a foreign country can be quit challenging. You don’t know the area, so it’s crucial to meet somewhere that is easy to find. I was already in Dubai for work, so when my darling flew in for a week of road tripping through the Arabian Peninsula we needed to find the perfect spot to meet up. That’s why my darling and I decided to meet at the rental company in the airport where we were going to rent our car. This company was called Dollar which turned out to be a very confusing name. While I was waiting at the rental company, my darling was roaming all the money transfer offices at the Dubai airport because he thought that that was where we were meeting up. Since his phone didn’t work, we had no way to reach each other. Two hours and one visit to information desk later, he learned that Dollar was actually a rental car company! So, as a matter of fact, we learned three lessons here. First of all, always be very precise on where you are going to meet up. Secondly, make sure you can reach each other if something goes wrong. To conclude, if something is clearly wrong and the two lessons above failed, don’t wait two hours to go to the information desk. Your partner will be eternally grateful.
Bring the basic medicines// I’m not the kind of traveler to bring half the pharmacy with me in my suitcase. However, when my darling became sick on our last trip in Morocco, I wished I had brought the basic medicines with us. It appeared a good old pain killer couldn’t cure everything. On our next trip I will keep in mind to pack all the basic medicines like pills against motion sickness, diarrhea, a blocked stomach and general pain killers. At some point on your trip, you’ll probably need them.
You can’t return your car at the competitor// I must admit, I sometimes have some pretty big holes in my brain. You might have catch a glimpse of that during one of these previous epic fails. When our Arabian road trip adventure ended, we drove back to Dubai to return our car. Because it seemed more convenient, we decided to return our car in the bustling city center. You know, the one with major traffic jams, very –very- fast cars and a gazillion different streets! 15 minutes before the deadline, we parked our car in front of the car rental agency Budget to return the keys. Only when I saw the sign, I remember that this time, we didn’t rent the car at Budget but at Dollar. Slightly embarrassed we entered the office to ask for direction to the nearest Dollar car agency, you know, their competitors! With some vague directions and only 10 minutes left, we entered the rat race of the Dubai traffic. Miracles do exist because we actually managed to find the correct agency within the given time frame. Hallelujah for that!
Happy 2016 and enjoy your imperfect life! It will make for some pretty good stories in the end 🙂