How Not to Travel | Adventures of an Idiot Abroad

how not to travel

Reflecting back on my travels and looking at the photos I took is always a lot of fun for me- remembering my best times and all of the amazing things I did by myself. What I try not to remember though, is the amount of ridiculous situations I’ve got myself into while travelling. I thought it would be amusing to compile a list of some of my most unfortunate travel experiences and share them with you all- hopefully it will help other people learn from my mistakes. Here is a list of my biggest travel errors and some tips on how not to travel…

How not to travel lesson 1: Trust everyone

Firstly, I just want to say that I genuinely believe 95% of people are trustworthy and lovely. I’ve made connections and friendships all over the world when travelling solo and that never would’ve happened if I was too scared to trust anyone. But there have been a few times when I’ve let my guard down too much and got myself into a bit of a pickle.

I’ve been ripped off because I trusted the taxi drivers who told me their meters were broken. I’ve given my number to people who turned out to be complete psychos- one guy even calling me a slut because I didn’t accept his friend request on Facebook. Then there was the “apartment viewing” in Toronto that turned out to be a complete lie and was actually just some guy trying to get me drunk on tequila in his house.

And let’s not forget about the time I CouchSurfed in Jamaica…. Life.

Don’t have a financial safety net

When I was in California my card got cloned somehow. My bank were really great and cancelled all the fraudulent transactions but could only send a replacement card to my home address in Scotland. Luckily I was flying home the next day and had some cash to tide me over but I realised my whole trip could’ve been ruined if it had happened at the beginning.

PS. Who knew the first thing someone would buy with a stolen card is $70 worth of fast food?

Get into debt

After getting my card cloned, I took out another credit card for my next trip in case of emergency. But rather than using it for emergencies, I ended up using it to fund trips just because I didn’t have enough money in my savings. I racked up £1.5k of debt in one summer and doubled it the following year. I’m still paying it off now. While I’m so glad I got to have all of those travel experiences, it was definitely not my wisest decision. Would not recommend.

Don’t learn the local language

Travelling alone in foreign countries without knowing even basic words was incredibly ignorant of me. In the past it has made simple things like asking for directions or finding a bathroom impossible in some places. Especially the more rural areas. Also there was that time I asked for a vodka coke in Quebec… I got a vodka water because the waitress heard eau instead of coke (I drank it anyway). Do yourself a favour and download Duolingo before you go.

Run away from your problems

I mentioned this in one of my recent posts (travelling as a means of escape) and I’ve written about it lots before. Because I used to hate where I lived, I always dreamt of moving somewhere abroad and staying there forever. For some reason I thought that moving away meant that I wouldn’t hate my job, I would have loads more friends and every day would be non-stop excitement. My little bubble was burst when I actually did make the move. I realised everything was exactly the same except I had less support around me. Oops.

Skimp on travel insurance

Arriving in Canada in -10°C weather to find my suitcase was lost wasn’t ideal. What was even less ideal is that I had the most basic travel insurance. They wouldn’t give me a single penny to help. Lesson learned- make sure you’re covered for everything.

Eat at chain restaurants

When I look back at my former self, when I first started travelling, I wonder why the hell I travelled half way across the world to eat McDonalds and Subway. These places usually way more expensive because they’re in touristy areas. But they also rob you of having that authentic travel experience. I quickly learned in Thailand that 70p street food was WAY tastier than a £4 McDonalds meal. I’ve eaten local food as much as possible since.

That’s all that I can think of for now. I hope you enjoyed reading about my travel tragedies and perhaps gained some insight on how not to travel. What has been your biggest travel mistake so far?


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  1. Great read, certainly agree that learning a little of the language can make a big difference. I don’t think anybody is expecting you to be fluent but the effort is appreciated and you get a better experience because of it.

    1. Thanks Jason! Yes definitely the basics are a great thing to have. I’ve played many a guessing game with hand signals and such hahaha.

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