My Biggest (and Most Expensive!) Travel Mistakes

Despite my years of traveling and that I typically consider myself a fairly savvy traveler, it’s impossible to never have any mistakes come up while traversing the globe. Here are some of the biggest (and most expensive) travel mistakes I’ve made.

Flight from Panama

When I booked my flight from D.C. to Panama City, Panama a few years back, I went with the lowest price ($325 round trip!) even though the flights themselves were at funky times. Case in point: Our return flight was at 2 A.M. on January 18… except I showed up at the airport in time for a flight at 2 A.M. on January 19 – I had gotten confused that 2 A.M. was already the next day. My airline didn’t fly frequently, so there was nobody at the desk to help me either.

I ended up having to connect to the (mostly awful) WiFi at the airport, and call my dad around midnight local time to book me on another flight. He found one in the early morning, but this mistake set me back $1000. Markell and I also ended up sleeping on the floor of the airport that night (fortunately he though it was “fun”!).

Lesson learned: Always double (and triple, and quadruple) check the time AND day of your flight.

Hiking on Mount Teide Volcano, Tenerife

Gas in Tenerife, Spain

I rented a car when I visited Tenerife last May, which went really well till it came time to fill up the gas tank. I’m not great with Spanish, so I assumed “gasoil” meant gasoline. Turns out gas is actually “gasolina”… and “gasoil” is actually diesel. Needless to say, about ten minutes into driving the car broke down on a busy road – just hours before I was supposed to fly back to London.

The police helped me push the car to a less busy thoroughfare, while I called the car rental company for assistance. After a few hours of waiting, they towed the car away and gave me a new one just in time for me to drive to the airport and make my flight.

A few days later I got a call that since it was my fault I put the wrong gas in, I had to pay for the car towing. Fortunately this only set me back $45 – but the stress from the ordeal was priceless.

Lesson learned: Ask your car rental company what kind of gas to use, and how it is spelled in the local language.

Lovely Luxembourg

Taxis in Luxembourg

When Mark and I went to Luxembourg in November, we arrived late and decided to take a taxi from the airport to our hotel since it was only about ten minutes away. That ride – thanks to Luxembourg’s strong economy – ended up costing us over €35 for less than ten minutes of driving.

Lesson learned: Take the cheap airport bus in expensive countries, or do your research into taxi prices beforehand.

A poncho was necessary in Norway

Weather, weather, weather

I have packed incorrectly for the weather on more than one occasion. In Norway, I didn’t bring an umbrella or hooded jacket and it ended up pouring for the better half of my trip. I ended up having to buy the stylish poncho in the above photo.

In Northern Ireland, I assumed it would be similar weather to London in April but it was much, much colder, so I ended up freezing for most of my trip or taking Ubers when possible to avoid being outside.

In Ireland a few years ago I greatly underestimated how warm it would be in September and packed mostly cold-weather clothes. I ended up only being able to wear the one lighter outfit I packed repeatedly and I also totally forget pajamas and had to sleep in my other clothes.

Lesson learned: Check the weather before you go, particularly a day or two before you leave when it can be most accurately predicted.

Have you made any of the same mistakes as me? What are your biggest travel mistakes?


3 thoughts on “My Biggest (and Most Expensive!) Travel Mistakes

  1. Yikes! Definitely file those under “live and learn.” Thanks for sharing so we can learn from your mistakes! I can’t think of any right now but I certainly can commiserate with your expensive taxi. We had to pay 65 euro to get to the Charles de Gaulle airport, but it was unavoidable because the metro wasn’t even running that early!


    1. Ugh, that’s so frustrating! I’ve had to pay similar on a few occasions when I had early morning flights in London. Glad you found my ‘mistakes’ useful ;)!


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