My 7 travel fails

Sometimes things are not instagram-worthy. Sometimes you fall or say something awkward. Sometimes you just fail when traveling.

Looking over this past year of living and traveling in Europe, there were definitely some travel fails. So I thought I would recount some of the best … or worst moments when traveling.

All of these are sad but also really just funny. Like how could I have been short-sighted? Others just … the elements of nature got together and made some less than fun situations. All in all, they’re funny to look back over.

At the end of the day, don’t be like me. Be better.

Here goes …

1. Leaving one of my Chucks in a rental car

I visited the United States for three weeks. During this time, I had many people to see.

When you attend university in a different city and spend time working in Wahsington, DC, you have people all over to see. My schedule was kind of crazy my last week in town. Basically I had my best friend’s bachelorette party in Asheville, NC and then I rented a car to drive myself from Asheville to DC so I could visit a friend up there.

The rental car lady saw that it was my birthday soon and upgraded me to this:

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Halfway through my drive, I wanted to change to more comfortable shoes. At the time I was wearing my favorite red Chuck Taylors. I changed shoes and just tossed them in the back so I could quickly get back on the road.

When I went to return the car, I thought I had done a thorough look-through. I didn’t do a good enough job. The next morning I realized I left one of my Chucks in the car.

I was sad. To be honest, I’m still a little bit bummed. Those shoes had been all over with me. They were perfect. And now … I just have one.

2. Packing sundresses for the Azores

I never think to check the weather. I’m so bad about that. Other people check it and I always think “oh yeah, I should do that more.” So when my friend Karla invited me to the Portuguese Azores Islands in between Portugal and the United States, I imagined lush beaches and warm temperatures. I was thinking like a Portuguese Hawaii. Oh Lord could I not have been more wrong.

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Did you know it was about to start raining here? Did you know that it was cold? Did you know that my trusty black sweater was either on the ground or being held by Karla? I packed a good 3-5 sundresses and yet only wore one … this one. The only thing that saved me was that I had packed for my entire summer in the Czech Republic, which I knew was going to have colder weather than Spain. So I had pants, sneakers and jackets as well. Phew.

Check the weather before you travel. Don’t be like me.

3. Fog at the Cliffs of Moher

I spent a long weekend in Dublin, Ireland at the beginning of April with my friend Mary Ann. She suggested we go on this Paddy Wagon tour that takes you from Dublin out to the beautiful Cliffs of Moher. They’re picturesque and by the sea. People love to get photos by the majestic waters. And they’re a nice day trip from Dublin.

However the fog that day was the worst. So here’s how my photos turned out …

travel fails

I look awful here …

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travel fails

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All we could really do was laugh about it. Also those are my beloved Chucks …

4. I almost lost my super nice camera

travel fails

I swear sometimes I can just be in another world. I went to Andorra for a few days right after Christmas. We stopped in a grocery store to buy something … I cannot remember. Upon checking out, I set down my camera to pay. I then gathered most of my things and left.

After maybe about 10 minutes, I realize that I left my camera. I panic but am also hoping for the best. This is Andorra … one of the safest places in the world. People literally only ever come to Andorra to treat themselves.

So I sprint. When I arrive, I see that the cashier has my camera behind her desk. How nice. And I for sure am relieved.

I really need to be better with things like this.

5. Getting stuck under a faster and a snorer in Valencia

travel fails

As many of my readers know, I love staying in hostels. As an English teacher, I travel on a budget. I also am very social and love meeting people from all over the world. So this means that I typically choose to stay in hostels. You just cannot beat 20-30 Euros a night.

Staying in a hostel dorm room has it’s ups and downs. I’ve been in rooms where the snoring kept me up most of the night. I’ve been in rooms that smelled bad. I’ve also had very pleasant experiences in hotels like this one.

I stayed at the Urban Youth Hostel in Valencia for Las Fallas. I will say that the room was set up nicely. Each bed had a curtain you could raise and lower for more privacy. Each bed had a locker you activated with a wristband and each bed had an outlet to charge your phone.

However I got stuck under a faster and a snorer. I really hit the jackpot. Oh hostels …

I will say that it always seems to me like women are less likely to snore than men. So if I have the option between a female dorm or co-ed dorm, I will always pick the female dorm.

The only thing that saved me was that I really never returned to the hostel 100% sober. So I just passed right out each night.

6. Walking around barefoot in a Spanish person’s home

In Spain I make a significant amount of income each month from teaching private lessons. I have about 7-8 families that I work with each week. I go to their home with all sorts of games and songs, and teach their children English.

One of my classes is with 3-year–olds. This means I sit on the floor a lot. When I first started with them, I was always wearing flats. So when we were on the carpet, my shoes just came off. Then they would need to use the potty like all children have to do every 10 minutes and I’d walk them to the toilet. I know the parents thought it was odd I would walk with them barefoot. They made comments … polite comments. But I picked up that you just don’t do that.

So … just never walk around a Spanish person’s home barefoot.

However a Czech person’s home? Well wearing your shoes there is a huge insult. So get barefoot as soon as you can.

Oh cultural differences. Sometimes you discover them by doing the wrong thing.

7. Not going to the Albambra

I live in Spain Granada. The most famous monument in Granada is the Alhambra. In fact, here I am posing in front of it. However I never quite made it inside.

travel fails

I know I know … I spent a year living in Granada and never made it to the Alhambra. My first week in town was crazy. Just finding a place to live took up all my time. Then the school year started. After that, I just kept telling myself “next weekend … next weekend.”

So I’ve decided that next year there are no excuses. If I cannot find anyone to go with me, I will go alone. But I hope I can find someone who wants to go with me. Anyone?


Well there you have it. What have some of your best travel fails been?

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  1. I also spent a year traveling the world and it seems the travel fails are neverending! We were constantly plagued by ill-timed photoshoots and unpredictable weather and missing stuff! So I feel your pain! But the unpredictability of Traveling – I’ll never trade it for anything in the world!

  2. We had a similar fog fail with Mt. Ranier. We drove out specifically to see it, and even went up part of it.. but we never saw the mountain. Still, it was kind of cool to be in the fog on an invisible mountain.

  3. Nothing creates funny stories like travel fails! One time in Kyoto I got on the wrong bus and didn’t realise until it was at the end of the line… then I had to walk back to the train station and start again an hour later!

  4. We once left my daughters brand new school shoes (that we bought on the trip) in our hotel room when we checked out. We called about an hour later asking for them and of course the maid had already cleaned the gone and the shoes were nowhere to be found 🙁 Traveling can be amazing and some sort of travel fails are usually inevitable. Sometimes they make funny stories though. lol

  5. Yeah, I’ve forgotten my mouth splint several times too – usually when I’m packing on short notice/in a hurry. NOT good. Kudos to you for writing this, though, Nina – I love hearing your voice shine through in “this is what I did, don’t make the same silly mistake as me!” (which is what about half my blog posts are about!)

  6. Loved the post!

    It reminded me of my stories.

    We are coming to Granada this fall. If you are in the neighborhood, come with us! Also just discovered a new place to go to, Andora.

  7. It looks like, even with your fails, that you had an amazing time traveling. I think every time I have taken a trip something goes awry lol You always just have to look back and laugh about those little things because in the end…it was totally worth it!

  8. I love this! I think we have to take the time to find the humor in the less than perfect and your Cliffs of Moher photos are too funny. Things like that always seem to happen to me 🙂

  9. Oh no! Call them and have them ship the other shoe back! No one could use it anyway!
    I left my camera on the plane when I was travelling to Lisbon years back and ended up buying a new one there. Oh and lots of other fails too. I may do a post as well lol

  10. I laughed so hard at the sundress fail. I did that when visiting a friend in Sweden. I expected summery temperatures at end of May. Oh, boy, have I been wrong. HAHAHA!

  11. Your way of writing is hilarious, I love it! It seems like I will have to prepare a lot if I am going to travel someday because it has always been what I want to do. But failing sometimes makes thing more interesting, isn’t it? At least you have stories to tell! These are definitely good lessons if I ever want to these places above. As a travel-lover and a reader, thank you for your post and I hope your trip is still on a go.

  12. I’ve had my fair share of predicting the weather wrongly. The best thing I do to help myself is pack clothes for both cold and hot season in ratios 5:2 depending on what weather I predict. Sorry about your chuks.

  13. It sounds like you have had some very interesting experiences while traveling. At least your camera you got back when you had lost it. I have to admit that I never experienced fails like this while traveling. It could be because I have not traveled much throughout the years. Thanks for sharing your travel fails.

    1. Hahaha well these are just a few. For the most part, everything is pretty smooth. The camera thing has caused me to just be more careful with it as I travel.

  14. Although these situations feel like the end of the world sometimes, they always make for great stories after a while! Well, sometimes LONG after they happen. Bummer about the fog in Ireland! I’ve been to San Francisco a bunch of times during heavy fog and you can’t really make anything out!

    1. Oh yeah. They are for sure funny afterwards. That’s good to know about San Francisco. That’s one US city that I still need to see!

  15. I want to go to Alhambra!! Nice collection of travel mishaps! I don’t think you can consider yourself a traveler without a handful of these. I always pick female dorms too when possible because of the snorers! And I am sad for your chucks, I bet you have lots of photos featuring their memory.

    1. Yes girls are less likely to snore. I do have lots of dress and chucks photos. Oh well …

  16. I’ll meet you at the Alhambra. Hahaha! I do hope you enjoy the visit and meet lots of eager wanderlust types. Travel has its ups and down but, we remember all the good parts first. 😉

    1. Sounds like a fun afternoon! I do enjoy meeting travelers when I travel. It’s one of my favorite parts.

  17. Change the geographical locations and I’ve had all of the same travel fails… except the sundress one, since I do always check the weather 😏. Instead of a camera though I forgot our ATM bank card in the machine in a small town in the middle of Patagonia (Chile). With processing + FedEx,it took 4 weeks to receive the new one…in Mendoza Argentina! Gotta love traveling, sh&@t is going to happen, gotta roll with the punches. Great post!

    1. Yeah I really should be better about checking the weather. That really is no fun about the ATM card. One time in a Madrid metro station, mine got stuck. Luckily I was with a friend, so I had her go get an employee while I waited with it and the employee helped me get it unstuck. That was a relief. I don’t know what I would do without one for 4 weeks.

  18. The weather is always the one thing you can’t predict when travelling. Many times when I’m travelling I have to buy a piece of clothing because the weather has not been as forecasted. It’s one of the things about travel!

  19. I can relate to all of these! But my worst travel fail is definitely the weather! Although…it’s not like I could control it. Last year, I was stuck at Taipei airport for hours due to a typhoon and almost missed my connecting flight from Singapore to Bali. Long story, but luckily it all worked out in the end!

  20. This was a fun idea for a blog post! I immediately started thinking what would be my travel fails. I’m sure everyone must have some. After a while, some of them turn into a funny travel stories though even though at the moment they feel like fails.

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