News Travel Bloggers Reveal Their Biggest Travel Mishaps

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Travel Bloggers Reveal Their Biggest Travel Mishaps

Even the savviest of travellers are prone to having having a mishap or two during a trip. At Skyscanner Australia, we've caught up with travel bloggers who tell us about a time when travel wasn't as glamorous as it may seem. Here's what to do if it happens to you.

48 Hours in Frankfurt Airport

I was on my way from the United States to Frankfurt, Germany and then onward to Brussels, Belgium for a proper beer trip. After enjoying my time in Frankfurt, I went to the airport to catch my flight to Brussels.

When I went to check into my flight, the airline alerted me that I was actually two days early. Having spent far too much money in Germany (and I’d be losing even more money on prepaid accommodation in Brussels), I decided to live in Frankfurt Airport for 48 hours as opposed to getting a hotel in the city again.

I made friends with the staff at the bar in the basement, knew every single item inside of the grocery store, found the old-fashioned computers where I could get online to check my emails every so often, and I must have purchased every international edition of Vogue that they had available.  I likely spent just as much money at Frankfurt International Airport as a hotel in the city center. Surprisingly, I managed to get at least four to eight hours of sleep each night on a stretch of seats located in a peaceful hallway… but it was no easy feat.  

By the time I left and caught my flight out of Frankfurt, I vowed to never step foot inside of that airport ever again if I could avoid it. 

In 2014, I moved to Germany, where Frankfurt Airport is now my home airport.

How to avoid this travel mishap: Double check your details. Write down your flight details and dates in a calendar from the moment that you book so that everything else is scheduled correctly. Set notifications on your phone a couple of days before a trip, so that you don’t mix up dates and arrive either too late or too early before a flight.

Picking the Wrong Airport in Paris

One of the biggest (and dumbest) mistakes I’ve ever made was showing up to the wrong airport in Paris, France. It was at the end of my first ever trip abroad and I assumed that my return ticket from Paris meant going to the same airport I arrived at.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. I found out the hard way when I showed up at Charles de Gaulle. I was meant to go to Beauvais, which is well outside the city centre and 75 kilometres away. There was no way I could have made it in time.

My mistake ended up costing me my original flight, a new ticket, and the expenses of spending an extra day in Paris. It could have been worse but it was an expensive mistake!

How to avoid this travel mishap: Confirm the airport departure and arrival when you purchase a ticket. Arrive at least two to three hours early–just in case. Keep in mind that many airports used by budget airlines, especially in Europe, are often far from the city centre. Budget extra travel time to get to and from these outskirt airports.

The Great Wall Gone Wrong

I planned a trip to China with three goals in mind:
1. Explore Shanghai
2. Walk along the Great Wall of China
3. Admire panda bears

My first tourist visa to China was denied because I didn’t have all of the details like my flights and hotels already in place. The travel agent told me to try again with a full itinerary in hand. My trip to China was quickly approaching.

Feeling stressed, I got home and started booking my flights and accommodation. I was so anxious about the visa that my mind wandered elsewhere. I couldn’t remember where the Great Wall of China was, but a quick internet search revealed that it was “in Zhengzhou.” So, I booked an expensive flight to Zhengzhou.

Armed with an itinerary complete with flights, my visa was approved.

Two days before my trip, I went online to research ways I could see the Great Wall while avoiding the crowds. It only took me a few minutes to realise that the Great Wall was actually in Beijing–not Zhengzhou. Why was I going to Zhengzhou again? Turns out, I had either searched for the wrong thing or there was a business called “The Great Wall” located in Zhengzhou.

I wasn’t sure if I should rebook my flight or just go to Zhengzhou, a destination few travellers visit. Since it was quite last minute to change everything, I went to Zhengzhou anyway.

I still haven’t seen the Great Wall up to this day, but it gives me a good reason to go back to China. 

How to avoid this travel mishap: Give yourself plenty of time to plan a trip–and try not to pull out your credit card while under pressure. Verify across multiple sources an attraction’s location so that you don’t end up seeing a place you didn’t planned on.

Follow Melissa G. on A Broken Backpack

No Time for the Taj Mahal

While passing through southern India on a trip with my husband, we made a last-minute decision to go to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Because of a tight schedule and flights booked in advance, we only had an afternoon to see the iconic mausoleum.

It all went bad from the start. Our flight was delayed by 45 minutes, then our baggage took an hour to appear on the carousel. By the time we emerged, the driver we’d booked in advance had left. Organising another driver took hours of drinking tea and negotiating obscene prices since the drivers knew we were desperate to get to Agra.

Once on the road, it was into the afternoon and we had a two- to three-hour drive ahead. Our car got a flat tyre. We quickly helped the driver change it, but then the car wouldn’t start. Once going again, the driver informed us he would have to drive slowly since the spare tyre was almost flat too. My dream of visiting the Taj Mahal faded as the sun sank below the horizon.

In the morning we got to see the Taj Mahal from across the river, but as it was Friday, it was not open to visit and we were travelling onward.

How to avoid this travel mishap: Everything that went wrong on this trip could have easily have been prevented with better planning and a less restrictive schedule. Research alternatives in advance when and if things do go wrong.

Camping Out

We hired a campervan to travel down from Cairns to Brisbane, and being on a tight budget we went with the cheapest option we could find. It was a small, old campervan, which seemed fine for my partner and me.  

Not long into our trip down, the engine light came on. We called the hire company who informed us that the light wasn’t anything to worry about, and that because it’s an older model camper, there are some ‘electrical bugs’ (their words, not ours) which can cause orange dashboard lights to appear. We took their advice and thought nothing of it, until we realised that our fridge wasn’t working and all our food was either ruined, or on its way out. After all, it was summertime in North Queensland.

We called the hire company again who booked us an appointment with a local garage. After a few hours, the fridge was fixed and we were on our way.

After driving for another hour or so, the campervan suddenly lost all power in the middle of an intersection. Panicking, we managed to coast it to the side of the road. Then every time we reached a slight incline, it would lose power again.

We pulled into a shopping centre, called the hire company again, and waited hours for a tow-truck to come and recover us. By the time it arrived, all the garages were shut for the night and we had no option other than to be towed to a dodgy campsite where we spent the evening watching a huge thunderstorm roll in.

How to avoid this travel mishap: Request a vehicle swap at the first sign of a problem–especially if you’re heading somewhere remote. Request to see the vehicle’s service history if you have any suspicion that it hasn’t been maintained.

The Wrong Type of Fuel

Our flight arrived late in the evening in Iceland, and we went to pick up our rental car. It was late, dark, extremely cold and windy in the dead of winter. Tired from traveling, my partner and I just wanted to get to our hotel. 

We checked over the car, completed all the paperwork and were excited to start our trip around Iceland. Less than a kilometer away from the airport, we stopped at a gas station to fill up. Only after filling the tank with petrol and closing the gas cap, we saw a tiny little sticker that the car took diesel. Luckily, we saw that diesel sticker before any real damage had been done–aside from the damage to our pride. 

Our car had to be towed to a mechanic nearby to have the fuel tank drained, then had to refill the tank again with the proper type of fuel. That was an expensive lesson to learn, especially because fuel is so expensive in Iceland.

How to avoid this travel mishap: Always verify the type of fuel for any rental before leaving the counter. 

High Altitude, High Costs

My husband, Jake, always dreamed of hiking to Everest Base Camp in Kathmandu, Nepal. He trained for months in preparation and is an ultramarathon runner, meaning he runs any race longer than a marathon. Meanwhile, I trained about once a week.

When trekking to Everest Base Camp, hikers spend the day venturing to a higher elevation where they spend the night and sometimes stay an extra day to adjust to the altitude changes.

On our second stop during the trek, at 3,400 metres, my husband got really sick. He spent the night throwing up, running to the toilet, and suffered from a loss of appetite. We paid at the camp to have his oxygen saturation level checked–information that would tell us if his body was adjusting to the elevation. If oxygen levels are too low, we’d have to head down to lower elevation.

We checked Jake’s oxygen saturation level and it was perfect! We figured his illness must have been from food poisoning. We kept hiking. As the days passed, it seemed like he was getting worse while I felt fine. Since his oxygen saturation stayed within a healthy range, we kept going. Finally, we made it to the second-to-last stop. Jake wasn’t coming out of his room any more and I could barely get him to eat anything. 

Then he asked a question that I never imagined he would.

“How much does it cost to helicopter down?”

I thought Jake was joking and just needed more medicine, food, and sleep. But he was serious. I discovered that you could fly down for $1,400 dollars. Considering that we were budget travelers and had spent the minimum amount possible up to that point, I couldn’t imagine actually doing that. 

With only one day left (the coldest day yet by far), we hiked all the way up to Everest Base Camp at 5,364 metres of elevation. Then, I went straight to the helicopter company and paid for the $1,400 flight. 

Jake and I both decided that flying down was the right decision. We still can’t believe we made it to the top! Jake had never felt so terrible in his life and couldn’t have walked the extra eight days it would’ve taken to descend.

How to avoid this travel mishap: Purchase travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and evacuations, especially on treks higher than 3,000 metres. Keep an extra amount of money aside for unexpected expenses.

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