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As part of a Virgin Australia Travel Competition I am submitting this post as an entry, highlighting my Top Travel Tips.
I have done my fair share of world travel and in doing so I have made my fair share of travel mistakes. It’s like a lot of things in life – you learn from experience and eventually you almost get it right!
So here are the best (and worst) of my world travel bloopers:
On my first trip to Europe in 2007 I made the mistake of purchasing the biggest suitcase I could find and then proceeded to overload it with far too much clothing. Not only did I buy the biggest suitcase, but I bought the cheapest one! Hence the handle broke when I was dragging the suitcase up 100 stairs in the Metro in Paris, as I discovered not all subways have lifts or escalators. Not only did the handle break but the suitcase tumbled down about 20 stairs almost taking out innocent fellow travellers in the process! Luckily it did not hit anyone and a very nice Frenchman assisted me by carrying the suitcase up the remainder of the stairs for me.
Lesson No. 1 Don’t buy the biggest suitcase and don’t buy cheap. Look for quality luggage that is going to handle the rigours of world travel. Also do not attempt to drag a suitcase up the stairs in the subway!
Have you ever booked a flight online and then all of a sudden the website freezes and you have completed your booking but don’t know if it has actually worked? Years ago this happened to me when I booked a flight to Thailand. I phoned the airline to check that I had secured the booking and also paid the fares over the phone. I thought all was good when I received a booking confirmation via email. Fast forward to the day of the flight and we turn up at the airport after a 2 hour drive, only to discover that we never had a booking on the flight!
Lesson No. 2 To board a flight you need an E-Ticket not just a booking confirmation from the airline and it also pays to check that the credit card payment has gone through! This was an absolute catastrophe but fortunately we were able to get on the the flight.
My Mum and I were going through security to board a domestic flight and it was discovered by the X-Ray machine that my elderly mum had a metal nail file and nail scissors in her handbag! She was quickly whisked aside and given a lecture by the very humourless security officer. But the worst thing is that my Mum then complained bitterly about having her ‘lethal weapons’ confiscated!
Lesson No. 3 When you are travelling with the young or elderly ensure you check what they have packed in their onboard luggage prior to departure. They are likely to pack all sorts of strange items that are sometimes considered ‘illegal contraband’.
Yes you guessed it! Having purchased some very lovely French perfume at Singapore Airport enroute to the UK and being overloaded with far too much carry-on luggage, I put my duty-free bag down at Heathrow Airport and then left it there!
Lesson No. 4 Don’t attempt to take too much carry-on luggage as you only have two hands! You need at least one hand free to go through immigration and customs to fossick out your travel documentation, passport, etc. Save your duty-free purchases for the trip home.
There is nothing more frustrating than people who don’t have their travel documentation ready at hand when getting to the front of the queue at immigration and customs. I have witnessed so many people turning out the contents of their bags and pockets in a frenzied attempt to locate their passports or other documents.
Lesson No. 5 Have all of your travel documentation in one place and ready to produce upon request. Travel wallets are great for this. We have travel wallets that hang around our necks with all required documentation and our passports whilst we are going through the arduous check-in or disembarkation process.
So you have bought your brand new pair of comfy sensible Merrells for all the walking you are going to do on your overseas trip and you proudly pop them on your feet to embark on a big day out sightseeing and then within a few hours you have blisters everywhere on your feet! WTF? I thought these shoes were supposed to be the most comfortable ones available? So after ‘bandaiding’ over all the sore spots on your heels and toes you soldier on, but next day you are back to wearing your trusty old runners.
Lesson No. 6 COMFORTABLE FOOTWEAR IS PARAMOUNT!! If you are going to wear a brand new pair of walking shoes on your trip make sure you test them out first and ‘run’ them in a bit prior to the trip. Some shoes take a while to soften up and allow your feet to mould into them. Forget all the high heels and uncomfortable footwear, go for comfort everytime. Here are the 12 Best Travel Shoes for Women.
How many times have I told myself I am going to pack light this trip? I’m pretty sure it has been over a hundred times and I still tend to overpack. My problem is that I pack for the eventuality of every climatic event such as torrential rain, cyclonic winds, intense heat and even driving snow! But seriously there is absolutely nothing wrong with ‘outfit repeating’ and washing your underwear out in the hotel basin every few days, rather than taking too much clothing. There are also going to be shops where you are going so what you don’t pack you can always buy.
Lesson No. 7 DO NOT OVERPACK! Experienced travellers will tell you less is more when it comes to packing. Lay all your clothing out on the floor and then halve it and don’t take too many pairs of shoes because they are just too heavy to lug around.
I’m sure I’m not alone and that most of us have made a few mistakes when it comes to overseas travel. Do you have any additional travel tips or travel bloopers to add to this list?
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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budget janJuly 28, 2015
Loved this post Kathy. I laughed and said, Thank God that didn’t happen to me (2). We’ve all done similar things (well I have) and we do put them on the Never to be Repeated list. :) My mother would have done exactly the same thing and then felt hard done by when confiscated.
KathyJuly 28, 2015
Thanks Jan. I couldn’t believe that I’d personally experienced so many travel disasters! I guess it just goes to show that we are all human and make mistakes. However it is a tad stressful when you are out of your comfort zone and wonder what you are going to do next! :)
Michelle Weaver (@pinkypoinker)July 28, 2015
A very informative and highly amusing post. My son was caught with a bread knife in his back pack when he was about nine. I don’t have any idea why it was there. It was embarrassing though.
KathyJuly 28, 2015
Wow a bread knife could hardly be classified as a ‘lethal weapon’ but I bet Airport Security made a big thing of it! I think I have committed almost every travel blooper possible. And that is so embarrassing! :)
Jenny PJuly 28, 2015
Wonderful post Kathy! So true, especially point 1, point 6 and point 7. My personal experiences provide further research data supporting your evidence. I now only travel with a carry-on wheelie bag as I’ve been caught out lugging heavy bags on too many stairs from train platforms in Europe. Much easier to wash clothes, especially when staying in apartments.
KathyJuly 28, 2015
I am getting better at packing light but I still haven’t got it mastered. My husband, who just read the post, commented “that I should practice what I preach”! He always criticises me for packing too much. Men don’t really understand! I think the more I travel the more travel-savvy I become. :)
JohannaJuly 28, 2015
Aha, I nodded and giggled. Great post :) I have too transgressed and done some of these things and have taken note of the possible blunders you have made me pay future attention to!
KathyJuly 28, 2015
Thanks Jo. I am rather embarrassed to confess to some of these travel bloopers, but I think I have learnt from my mistakes. My husband still thinks I pack too much however! :)
Rae HilhorstJuly 28, 2015
I love this post and so can relate especially about the hand luggage. I try to palm some off to my husband, grumble grumble moan moan. I just ignore him xxxx
KathyJuly 29, 2015
The last few times I have travelled I have actually taken a backpack so that my hands are free. They are great for carry-on but they are a bit hard to access for getting out your travel documents, so that is why I have a travel wallet that hangs around my neck. A bit unsightly but very practical! :)
Janet CamilleriJuly 29, 2015
We learned the hard way not to have a cheap suitcase on our recent trip. One of the wheels broke off the very first week which made it a real challenge to cart around for the remaining 3 weeks …
KathyJuly 29, 2015
Oh no, I really rely on wheeling my suitcase around. Otherwise you end up with very long arms! Your European holiday looked divine Janet. I have been following your pics. :)
Red Nomad OZAugust 4, 2015
Hahahaha, that’s hilarious! I actually think everyone should start training for #5 at the supermarket checkout – I mean, it can’t come as a surprise that you actually have to pay when you get there, so what’s with the fumbling for wallet and counting out the small change AFTER the purchase price has been totalled!!!! Another blooper is to luggage with no distinctive identifying features – do you know just how many plain blue/grey suitcases of a certain size there are??!!
KathyAugust 5, 2015
Yeah I find that extremely annoying too! That’s never been us – we are super organised (even though we have made some pretty stupid mistakes!) We both have identifying ribbons and tags on our luggage so that it is easy to spot. My worst nightmare is someone else taking my luggage by mistake. It would be disastrous!!