Learn from them, laugh at them but never ever regret them. Travel is all about experiences, which create lasting memories. Experience can be pleasant or otherwise but memories are always good. It may seem like the world is lost on you when your child scribbles on your passport just before the upcoming trip or when you forget a corkscrew to enjoy the wine, you just bought from supermarket or ended up on a road with dead end, following a patchy signal on GPS. But when you look at rear-view mirror, you come out wiser and enriched with these great stories to tell.
Think about it, what is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about your trip where you missed your flight connection. You must have ultimately managed to reach your destination or worse have lost one day in transit. Big Deal ! Ability to laugh at our mistakes and learn from them makes travelling fun. I have made quite a few mistakes in my years of travelling and we always have a hearty laugh, when I think about them. This list is not to teach you to avoid them but to bring smile to your face, if anyone of them resonates with you.
1.) Used moisturiser in place of sunscreen :- We were travelling to New zealand, where temperatures are between 18-22 degree Celsius in the day so you don’t feel the sun. It is also not an ideal beach destination, so we completely skipped the sunscreen. Feeling the chills, we kept applying moisturiser till the time we realised that we have accelerated the process of tanning ( unintentional) and got sunburnt as a result!
2.) Used Ferry in place of Catamaran :- To be honest, I didn’t know the difference between two and read it interchangeably, while I made the booking. I learnt it the hard way, when it took us 4 hours to reach Korcula from Split in Croatia , when Catamaran takes 1 hour. Ferries are bigger and made to carry cars / more passengers and operates on long-haul routes with frequent stops.
3.) Went with a group of friends without any plan :- This is one mistake, you should be avoiding. Lot of us in exuberance of reunion after five years or catching up in an offshore destination, forget about the most important thing. What will we do ? You should have some sketchy plan, which is discussed with everybody. It can be what all adventure activities you will do, or which restaurants are must visit or you just want to relax and chat. Last thing you want is the awkwardness when everyone wants to go in different direction.
4.) Stayed outside the main centre of town for ‘peace and tranquillity’ :- Lot of resorts and even many listings on Airbnb, use words like “peaceful location”, “away from the crowd in a very quite lane”. Be extremely clear on what you want. Most of us like to be part of chaos, explore the nightlife, stay in the old town. When we travelled to Mykonos, we chose a nice looking hotel, 5 Kms outside the main square. It was not particularly enjoyable, when all we wanted was to feel the pulse of the town and have to wait impatiently for the next shuttle to depart.
5.) Took Manual car, when have to drive on the other side of the road :- Road trips are the best way to explore any country. Unfortunately its not the same side drive for everyone. World is divided between right and left hand side drive. It takes some time to tune your mind to drive in a different direction but is still manageable. What is hard is to have similar hand / foot coordination, on other side of what you are used to. We changed our manual car to Automatic within a day, when we were on our road trip in Croatia.
6.) Went without proper gear/ equipment for expedition:- Have you found yourself asking “do you have extra snorkelling gear” on a sailing holiday or “can I borrow your Go Pro”, when you are out for trekking in wild. In the excitement, we tend to ignore the preparation that is required to do our favourite activity. Always check if your shoes will support you on the tough terrain, do you have your own club, if going on a golfing holiday. It will make your experience much more pleasant to have your own gear.
7.) Didn’t account for taxes, highly priced meals in an expensive resort :- Off-season rates are tempting and suddenly our dream hotel looks within a our reach, if we stretch our budget little more. By all means, indulge yourself sometimes, you deserve it. But while doing budget allocation, account for below-the-line items like luxury surcharge or the expensive meals that you will have to take in that secluded resort. Know clearly what you are getting into !
8.) Relied too much on GPS :- GPS is a machine and is almost everytime right but never ignore your instincts. Atleast when you are driving in isolated locations, where chances of help are remote. I have had numerous incidences where, GPS has taken me to a road, which is too narrow for car to pass or which is drowned 2 feet down by a new stream, just formed. Use of GPS with certain degree of scepticism will make sure you are never lost, unless you want to !
9.) Didn’t carry soft copy of important documents :- We were not going to drive on our holiday to Greece and did not bother to carry our license. But when we reached there, it was apparent that best way to experience an island city is to have your own ride. We regretted not having the soft copy of our driving license. It doesn’t hurt to carry soft copy of your passport, booking details, driving license, insurance policies and emergency numbers handy on your mobile device. We did manage the soft copy though after frantic calls back at home.