What better way to celebrate 2 years on the road than with a big reminder that they were full of… well: flops, mistakes and misadventures? Sometimes it feels like together with some of our belongings, we also left our brains at home. Let’s hope that at least these mistakes are behind us… and maybe someone can learn from them.

OUR BIGGEST TRAVEL FAILS (SO FAR):

  • That time we thought that our burgers were full of drugs. They weren’t.

It took us a long time to find a vegetarian place in Battambang, and when we finally got there, things turned pretty weird. Everyone that’s been to SE Asia before knows about their famous mushroom burgers or weed-spiced shakes… so we got a little suspicious seeing the name of a “special mushroom burger”, but decided to try it anyway. It tasted just like meat – and so the the paranoia set in.

Is it just a damn good mushroom burger, or a meat burger with shrooms? Feeling dumber than ever, we google-translated “are there drugs in this burger” to Khmer and, with shame-ridden faces, attempted to communicate with the waiter. After a couple of (very awkward) minutes and one (even more awkward) presentation of the mushrooms used in the burgers, we were left with no conclusion whatsoever and decided to leave away half of our dinner.
Turns out – they were perfectly safe. And, unfortunately, delicious.

  • That day in Vietnam when we got scammed by a banana lady.

What do you do when someone throws a stick with bananas on your shoulder and tells you to take a picture? You put them down and walk away, as fast as possible.
What did we do? We decided to firmly state “no” (for about 5 minutes), then try to reason with the woman (for the next 5 minutes) and then, tired with the situation, went with “alright, take this damn picture” – a mistake that, after cooling down and converting the currency, costed us way more than it should, because, of course, the woman demanded a hefty tip and we felt stupid running away after the fact.
Needless to say, traveling through Vietnam quickly taught us how to be more assertive.

A short guide to Vietnam // The Clueless AbroadOh, the shame.

  • That time I forgot to take my knife out of the hand luggage at the airport. And that time it happened again. And again.

I was probably extremely lucky that the airport security was pretty nice. Still, I’m now 1 travel knife and 2 Swiss Army knives short. Also, the embarrassment felt like eternity.
Seriously, double-check your luggage before flying anywhere.

  • That crappy afternoon when we were stuck on the border with food poisoning.

The first rule of street-food is: don’t eat at a stall that’s always empty.
Let’s just say that we remembered these milkshakes for a long (and painful) time. The sickness made us overstay our visa, because instead of moving on to Cambodia, we were both lying in bed, half-dead, running to the toilet every 5 minutes. Next day we managed to cure ourselves a bit, but the 10 hour, adventurous and bumpy drive through the border was far from pleasant.

  • The time(s) we went hiking without hiking shoes, even though we had them.

I still have no idea why we sometimes choose to hike around in slippery trainers rather than dig up the proper shoes from the bottom of the backpack. Even a lightly sprained ankle didn’t teach us a lesson – but maybe it’s because we were barefoot, so that kinda doesn’t count to this whole “wrong shoes” thing.

Through Laos: Vang Vieng // The Clueless Abroad

  • That shameful trip during which we unknowingly went to a coffee plantation famous for turning wild animals into coffee crapping machines.

This is a tough one to admit to. Do you know kopi luwak? It’s a coffee that used to be collected from the feces of wild civets and then processed for consumption – absurdly enough, people pay hefty money for that. The difference is, now the farmers are keeping these animals in tiny cages and force-feeding them with coffee beans, something that’s not even the main ingredient of their diet. We didn’t know that before our trip – and, even though we should have walked right out after we saw the cages, we continued the tour just like we were supposed to, feeling torn and a bit weirded out. We did our research afterwards, and what we found out was horrible.

So, if you ever find yourself participating in a tourist trap that does any harm to animals, don’t be like us then and don’t get scared of coming out as a weird person if you quit and tell your guide that you have no interest in it. We also grew our confidence with time. Doing our research beforehand and making sure that all we do is both animal and human friendly also saved us a lot of stress and made us more responsible in our travel choices.

  • That night we forgot to check the hotel’s opening hours and stood in front of a closed gate at 1 a.m. After a 20 hours long bus trip.

Lesson learned – always check the check-in hours and if you can’t, inform the hotel about a late arrival. Luckily, a local Laotian family decided to help us out (already at the bus stop, where we were left with no way of getting into the city) and after some phone calls and even one break-in attempt, we managed to wake up someone from the staff.

  • That time Manu got bitten by a dog.

Even though we love dogs, in this case it clearly wasn’t mutual. If you meet a dog you don’t know, especially if it behaves a bit weird, better don’t lean down to pet it.

  • That time we said goodbye to the GoPro… on our best dive.

If you’re planning on diving a lot in salt water – buy a stick that can survive it. Ours clearly didn’t, and it decided to unscrew right at the end of our best dive to date. Did I mention that there was a great footage of us swimming alongside a beautiful, giant manta ray?

Diving in Koh Lanta // The Clueless AbroadAlso failing at underwater modeling.

  • That month (!) when we decided to fly instead of driving through Vietnam.

No big story here, but it was definitely a huge waste of money and no adventure. We’ve heard so much about the horrible buses in Vietnam that we decided to get around the country by plane, saving lots of time, but also missing out on experience and adding a lot to the cost of our trip. While it would have been impossible to get everywhere by land in time (our visas were running out), we could have taken at least one or two longer bus trips during the day – and that’s what you should probably do too, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.
(I like to believe that we made up for this with that 20hrs long, hellish bus drive in Laos. And the impossibly cramped local buses in Cambodia.)

  • That day we went to see Matterhorn, but the lifts and main attractions were closed. And there was a huge crane right in the middle of the (otherwise spectacular) view.

That’s how all of our Matterhorn pictures look like:

matterhorn_crane2“Whoa, look at that crane! It really adds to the composition!”

manu_dissapointed

Not only did we miss the chance for a nice view, but also the chance to see the famous Glacier Paradise, hike along the Schwarzee and even get up to the best viewpoint. Most of the gondolas didn’t run, and we didn’t have enough time to walk up.
How could you avoid this in the future? Just check the website and the lifts schedule. Yup, it’s that easy.

***

So, why did we decide to write this post? Because maybe thanks to this, you’ll be able to avoid doing all the stupid stuff that we did. And if you fail – just remember that everyone makes mistakes, no matter how experienced and well-traveled they are!

We suck at kayaking


We’ll be co-hosting a travel selfie fails competition soon with Nomad’er How Far – if you’re a travel blogger with some horrible photos hiding on your hard drive, reach out to us! :D

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5 thoughts on “Our biggest travel fails so far

  1. I loved reading this! Anyone who’s travelled for a long time has some travel fails and if Nick and I hadn’t been with a Vietnamese friend when the banana lady approached us in Hanoi we may well have had to hand over some cash! Oh and I have at least one great unpublished selfie fail, drop me an email or something!

    1. Thanks! Damn, you were lucky! We didn’t have any friends there and it was our first 2 or 3 days in Asia, so… easy target. :D
      We’ll reach out to your about the photo for sure! Always great to hear there’s more of us failing at this! :D

  2. Some classic fails there dudes! How much did you end up paying for the banana picture? Its so crap because its not like the photo is anything special either, she’s photobombing it looking at the stick getting ready to demand money :P

    1. Haha, exactly, it’s not like it screams “adventure!” or “blending in!” :DD.
      I think it was something around $10-15 – honestly, nothing REALLY bad, but considering that in some places there it can buy you 2 nights in a basic hotel… I’d be happy to pay it for something small and handmade or give that money to a helpful guide, but definitely not to some banana scam artist :P.

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