There is a lot that can go wrong when you are traveling. Lost or stolen passports, a debit card that stops working or getting food poisoning are just a couple of personal examples. There are many mishaps or travel mistakes not to make or while on the road, I have highlighted a couple that have happened to me at one time or another.
- Never arrive in a strange city at night without a hotel reservation. Case in point, I arrived in Munnar, India at midnight after a 15 hour bus ride. Munnar is a small tea plantation city in the hills of India. Like everywhere else in India, you will be taken for a ride on hotel prices if you arrive at night with no reservation. You will be chauffeured to several ridiculously expensive hotels ($50+) because your rickshaw river wants his commission and then overcharged ($25 for a $10 room) for a hovel after negotiating dead tired and promising to stay at this hotel for several more days (big fat lie).
- Never eat at a suspect restaurant. Sounds obvious right? Well, sometimes your brain and stomach won’t get on board with this at the same time. I ate breakfast at an ok looking restaurant where a few other foreigners were eating but then I noticed the amount of flies this restaurant had. It was an outdoor restaurant and I did’t see any trash or food laying about so I chalked it up to nature. Big mistake. I ordered eggs, toast & tea (no meat) while the flies swarmed in and out of my fork. I was fine for 5 hours, then the nausea came right when I was boarding a 13 hour bus ride. I managed to get through the night with a lovely vomit out the window of the moving bus and proceeded for the next 3 days to be sick out of my mind. Food poisoning in a 3rd world country sucks!
- Never leave anything in your room of value unlocked. Money, camera, passport or computer. Most overseas hotels (or the ones I frequent) do not have safes nor do I trust the hotel’s. Buy several small locks to lock your bags up and to lock those bags to furniture in the room. If you make yourself a target you will be a target.
- Never trust an Indian man in India. This is a broad generalization but this mainly refers to anyone you meet in the act of travel/tourism/transportation. People in this world tend, in my opinion, to be lecherous. If you are a woman, they want to sleep with you because they think you are easy and if you are anyone else, they want to take as much money from you as possible. Too many stories to recount but 9 out of 10 experiences left me suspicious. Read my other post: Why India Turns Me into a A**h****
- Never be afraid to ask questions. Being an independent traveler makes you think sometimes that you are a cut above the rest, so much so, your travel hardened brain can figure everything out. Case in point, asking for directions. I have walked alone in strange cities getting lost because I did not want locals to know I was lost and then I proceed to get more lost and 2-3 hours later, finally get back to where I was supposed to be. Some cities, it’s fun to get lost because they are modern and easy to find your way home but in others, you really are testing the limits of yourself when you find yourself in a dilapidated neighborhood and are the only white face. This also applies to getting on the right bus when the local language is not written in the roman alphabet.
Fellow wanderer, what other travel mistakes not to make can you think of?