We often say traveling is a learning experience. As we started to travel a lot about 5 years ago, would this mean we have learned a lot? We decided to put together fun stories from 5 years of traveling and some important conclusions that came after. We hope we’ll still continue our non-formal method of education and passion, a.k.a. to travel.
Applying for and getting a visa may seem hard, but sometimes it could be actually quite easy. We have an example with Bistra’s Russian visa. Nace wanted to surprise her and take her to Moscow for her birthday. So he contacted an agency to get invitations as the authorized person to apply for a visa, didn’t even have to put her signature anywhere and voila – she was introduced to the destination at the airport and the surprise went perfectly!
Conclusion: Never underestimate the visa procedures, as things like this happen once in a million.
Have you ever booked the right flight but on the wrong date? We did! While going through our reservations few days before our trip Brussels – Canary Islands – Milan, we noticed our flight from Brussels to Tenerife was booked for one month earlier. We couldn’t change all the other reservations for hotels, rent-a-car and so on and we definitely didn’t want to cut our stay on the warm Tenerife island. So we got lucky and booked another flight for the right day (and month) for a small price.
Conclusion: Always check your itinerary and reservations before your trip. The sooner you check, the better chances you have for adequate reaction in case you made a mistake.
Have you ever been asked for an ID onboard a flight? We were! We were also flattered as we were like a dozen years older than the minimum drinking age. Obviously, we looked pretty young to the flight attendant of the Air New Zealand airline. So we showed our passports and quickly got to enjoy two glasses of wine on our way from Queenstown to Auckland.
Conclusion: Always have an ID or passport with you, even if you’re flying domestically.
At the airport
We were drinking some tea during a layover in Sharjah on our way to Nairobi. All of a sudden those crazy funny fast voices filled the air over the PA systems – they were so funny some people could literally lose their flights to remain listening to them! Of course, we recorded them for later reference. And then we lost the recordings altogether with some video from Kenya. It was a nasty phone bug.
Conclusion: Always backup your data, as often as possible.
Conclusion 2: Take photos with your eyes first and make sound recordings with your ears first.
Have you ever stayed at a shitty/weird hotel? We have. We had a long layover in Urumqi, China so we got transported to an airport hotel (there were no lounges available in the airport, but that’s a different story). As soon as we entered the room we were introduced to a wide collection of sex toys, condoms, and lubricants. It was like a fully stocked mini bar for sexual delight. We didn’t take advantage of them but took advantage of the bathroom for a shower and the bedroom for a nap. Dream on!
Conclusion: Stay open-minded and do not judge!
Has anyone stolen your reservation? Yes, we were told someone already checked in (obviously nobody asked for their identity) in the hotel we booked in Primorsko, Bulgaria. The fun part was that we were notified on our way to the seaside, in the very high season. We started searching for accommodation in the very last minute, it did not look good. Eventually, the lady we initially booked with showed some of the legendary Bulgarian resourcefulness and found a place for us to sleep in. It was a friend of the neighbor, you know.
Conclusion: Be ready for last minute twists in Bulgaria. Before complaining, always ask people for alternative suggestions.
Your rights while traveling
We were flying to Italy for a lovely ski vacation. It didn’t start really well. We had this very rude and arrogant flight attendant who was trying to humiliate us in front of the whole passenger cabin. He even faked intoxication certificates even though he and the whole cabin knew we were not intoxicated at all. We filed a complaint and guess what – I received some answer that they will escalate this case. Nace hasn’t received any response yet…
Conclusion: Some airline companies (read Wizzair) do NOT know how to treat their clients. Which might have been an issue, but…
Conclusion 2: You can always fly with the competition (good that Ryanair has so many flights from Sofia nowadays) and let the customer service and the in-flight service stick the intoxication certificates in their…overhead compartments!
We were supposed to get on a hop-on-hop-off bus from Nazca to Lima. This was the final leg of our two-month journey around South America. And we had some adventure right there! It turned out that their lack of organization and communication slowed us down by one day so we stay in Huacachina – the desert oasis village. On one hand, it was an unexpected lovely detour, on the other – we had to argue a lot with the company representative to convince him we didn’t have to pay for their mistake!
Conclusion: Always fight for your rights!
Machu Picchu was a dream of ours for a long time. We even paid extra for a scenic train to be able to absorb more views on the way to Aguas Calientes – the village below Machu Picchu. Well, surprise surprise, no scenic train for us. We put out the best of our “arguing” Spanish and the worst of our “nice” English – and finally, we got compensated with a private guide to the whole site of Machu Picchu. It was nice because there are no signs or information onsite. So we had all those crazy stories and suggestions how Incas did everything in the 15th century.
Conclusion: When one door closes, another opens for you. But you are the only one who can turn to that door!
Conclusion: Never give up. Search for answers, people to help you, alternatives!
Assumptions can go a long way to create wrong impressions. And this is so true when we talk about and in different languages. Here are some funny memories:
- In our hostel in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile we decided to treat ourselves with some Nutella. The reaction of other guests was: “Are you Italians?”
- We were trying to navigate in Borjomi, Georgia. We got lost so I eventually entered something looking like a bus station, secretly hoping that someone will respond to my requests in English. All of a sudden a women started talking to me in German. I had to mobilize my whole body and mind but we conducted a decent conversation. She didn’t know where the place we were looking for was. On our way we asked a random person, he didn’t know too, but we said Ciao to say goodbye (it is widely used in Bulgaria too). He thought we were Italians and started producing words in Italian: Bambini, Adriano Celentano, spaghetti.
- There’s a salad that Nace ordered in Buggiba, Malta. The cucumbers in it were not very fresh or good-looking so Nace called the waiter to ask him:
– You think those cucumbers are fresh?
– You think?
– You think?
It went like this for a while. After so much thinking, we were served another salad with better-looking cucumbers. You think?
It’s your fault
Sometimes it’s really our own fault. We are wrong, we are funny, we missed something, or we were just sleeping. Sometimes we get away with it, sometimes not:
- We were two minutes late. We got on a train. It was another train in the totally opposite direction. Yes, trains in Japan are super punctual. We realized that every minute a new train is departing from one and the same platform. So accidentally we took the wrong train. Moreover we took a Nozomi bullet train (which is the fastest, makes few stops and was not included in our Japan Rail Pass). But thanks to the kind Japanese conductor we were not put a fine, she just explained what happened to us and how to correct our own mistake, with a huge smile and a bow.
- We were sweet-talking in the airport of Bergamo, consuming some tasty panini and wine, with a great company of friends. Suddenly we realize it is the last call for our flight so we did burn some calories running to the gate and much more worrying how we can be so careless. We caught the flight.
Our Lima – Arequipa flight was in the morning but we thought we booked the noon flight. We slept like babies after our first day in Lima, then arrived at the airport leisurely. In the taxi, we noticed our flight departed an hour ago. But the LAN Airlines airport staff was so kind that they rebooked us for the noon flight for free.
- Ilha Grande – tropical paradise, the second biggest island of Brazil. Enjoying life on the beach with fresh coconuts in our hands. We noticed people running from one end of the beach to the other where the ferry terminal was. We were thinking „It must be so hard to drag the suitcase and carry the backpack on those sands while running at 30 degrees Celsius.“ Only if we knew that we will do exactly the same things two days later, because of our bad timing and punctuality…
- We didn’t set the alarm properly and overslept our flights to Madeira. Nace applied the therapeutic writing practice (while hanging in Keflavik airport during a typical Icelandic snow storm) to feel better and cheer us up, but he doesn’t agree to publish this work yet.
As we drafted this post, more and more funny stories kept coming! We realized that even a book won’t be enough to fit all the things we learned from traveling and all the experiences and conclusions we want to share!
Did you enjoy this article? Dare to share your fun learning experience while traveling? Go to the comments section below!