“5x The Standard Fee”: 54 Of The Worst Mistakes Travelers Have Made While Abroad

Travel can be all kinds of exciting, but the mix of new places, systems and an unfamiliar language can very quickly become a recipe for disaster.
Someone asked “Everyone has a travel blunder, what's yours?” and netizens shared their most embarrassing stories. We got in touch with veteran travelers Caz and Craig Makepeace to learn more about red flags. So get comfortable, scroll through, upvote your favorites and be sure to share your own thoughts in the comment section below.
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41M..Plane hit turbulence, dislocated both hip replacements. Had to lay in the center aisle for 45 minutes all while passing out in pain until we could emergency land.

Image credits: JonnyP3283


Put my keys back through the letterbox of the AirBnB as requested.

Few minutes later realised I needed the keys to access the garage my rental car was parked in.

Took an hour and a half for someone to appear and let me in. Got to the airport just in time to see my plane take off.

Image credits: RedundantSwine


At the end of a trip to Rome, I needed to take a train to the airport to catch my flight. So at the track where the train to Roma Fiumicino was announced, I got on the train. The train was fast but it took way longer than I thought and I started to worry a bit that I would be late for my flight. Then we arrived at the next train station. Which was Florence! So somehow I had taken the wrong train, for which I did not have a ticket, *and* I had missed my flight. I explained the situation to the conductor, and he kindly let me stay on until the next stop, which would be Milan, without having to pay for a new ticket. By the time we reached the next station, I had gone online to book a hotel room in Milan and to book a new flight from Milan home the next day. I had never been to Milan and I had a good time there, so in the end it worked out.

Image credits: sumpuran

Bored Panda got in touch with veteran travelers Caz and Craig Makepeace to learn more about some red flags when putting together a trip. “Some red flags I look for: How current are reviews? If there hasn't been any current ones, especially post-pandemic, something dramatic might have happened.”

“I also check reviews for a balance between negative and positive. If it skews in either direction it could be a red flag. You also want to take into consideration differing opinions - some people may be more or less particular than you.”


I lived in China in college and took a trip from Beijing to Kunming, travelling across a large portion of the country. We took a 28-hour bumpy train ride, learning when we arrived that it would have been cheaper to fly.

Image credits: Lobster_Zaddy


Falling asleep in a train with my headphones on and my backpack not close to me…

Woke up and it was gone.

Train from Budapest to Vienna.

My wife and I are relatively frequent and experienced travelers but made a rookie mistake.

Image credits: mikehamm45


Forgot underwear. Was staying at a cheap resort in a tiny town. No one sold clothing. Nearest possible place was on another island or the mainland.

Made do with the one pair I was wearing and a swim suit during washings.

Image credits: PM_meyourGradyWhite

“Look at how the managers also respond to negative reviews. If they are rude and negative back, it's probably a customer service red flag. Compare photos from reviews to hotel photos. Do they match? Or are the hotels heavily photoshopped? Outdated websites are a red flag I pay attention to. You should expect an updated site with current information and easy-to-navigate booking options,” they shared.


Not mine but I saw something about an airport in Austria that has an entire department dedicated to assisting travelers who are supposed to be in Australia.

Image credits: Icy-Fox-158


A friend of mine and I were playing the floor is lava in our hotel room. Turns out the bench in the entrance of the room couldn't take someone jumping onto it from the bed. We paid for the bench obviously, but it was hard coming up with a story less stupid than the truth.

Image credits: outtastudy


Left my driving license in a village which was only accessible by trekking back then. On top of that, it was left in the top most hotel.

I had checked out from the hotel, trekked for 45 mins to reach a bus point, caught two buses to reach another town with the total duration being approx. three hours in total.

Upon reaching there, the new hotel asked me for my license. Me realizing my blunder had to go back the whole route back again, trek up and down again just to get my driving license and wasting an additional 6-7 hours.

Image credits: PunisherX20

“Map the hotel location, as "Close to water" could mean several blocks away. I always look for phrases that determine if the hotel has a resort fee. Also called amenities fee, property fee, destination fee, facility fee. These are hidden and unnecessary fees I don't want to pay,” they shared With Bored Panda.


Ok storytime

i was in Cape Town. I hadn’t had my morning coffee and was staying at an apartment hotel without a coffee maker so I needed to go out to find coffee.

went to the cafe and ordered coffee. The barista says “with milk?”

in my pre-caffeine daze I respond “no, I take my coffee black, like my soul“

No sooner had the words left my mouth, I remembered where I was, and my stomach sank as I looked into the face of the black barista.

Then he gave the biggest smile and said “your skin is white (thumps his chest twice) but your soul is black!”

and i smiled back and thought to myself “that could easily have gone the other way!” But it had a wholesome ending.


Being detained by the Chinese military police in Beijing for having a camera in my pocket at the living tomb of Mao Zedong.

Image credits: IsopodConstant8327


Not me but someone i traveled with. Missed his plane cause he bought a novelty item shaped like a bullet (think it was a bottle opener or something) and left it in his locked bag. Security were not too happy when they found that.

Image credits: ninjab33z

We also wanted to hear their opinion on when it would make sense to “splurge” for convenience. “From backpacking in hostels, to camping in tents, and luxury home rentals, we've stayed in all types of accommodation for our past 26 years of travel. Our focus is always on exploration and memorable moments, so accommodation is normally just a place to sleep at night. Before booking your accommodation, really tune into what's most important to you.”


Forgot about time difference and booked all the hotels a day later than required. For a 2 week trip.

Image credits: NochMessLonster


Landed in Mexico City in 2008.

Man in airport asks if I need a taxi and I did, so I accepted. He walks me to his car and I open my Mexico travel book and start reading. It tells me not to accept rides from taxis unless they are at formal stands, and to always negotiate the total fare in advance, so you don't get ripped off. I ask my driver how much the fare is, and the amount he asks is more than the cash I had, SO I ask him to take me to an ATM.

I keep reading my guide book, and it says not to let anyone take you to an ATM, because they might rob you. The driver leaves the main road and drives through an impoverished looking neighborhood with some dude laying face down on the sidewalk in the middle of the day. We get to an ATM, I walk over and withdraw the money, and as I turn around the driver says "Stop." I figure I'm going to get robbed but je just points out that I had left my debit card in the ATM.

We drove on to my destination (a big bus station) where I discovered he charged me 5x the standard fee.

I got lucky, don't be that dumb.

Image credits: Senator_Ruth_Martin


Me and some friends wanted to go to the Panzermuseum in Munster (Germany) in the early 2000's so we planned a trip by car (from the Netherlands). After arriving and a night in an hotel we couldn't find the museum. Finally we asked someone, turned out we were in Münster, not Munster. 280 km off.

We got drunk and all was good.

“This will help you have more accurate expectations and less disappointment with your hotel stays. I'm okay with staying in lower-quality accommodation because I want to use that money savings on experiences. But, this may be different for you, if comfort makes a more enjoyable experience for you.” You find more of their work on their website and on Instagram.


Case full of firearms. Airline lost it, when I explained that it was filled with firearms they magically found it 15 minutes later.

Image credits: OsintOtter69


18... Euro trip with buddies.. didnt realize U2 was in Amsterdam. We went to 20 hostels, hotels everywhere and couldnt find a place to stay.. we were going to stay up all night, and take the train out of the country the next morning. Sitting on a corner smoking rolled american spirits and American stops and asks for cigarette on a bike, we oblidge - get to talking.. He is from San Diego like us.

He runs a rental company (Pre Airbnb.. 2009) - lets us stay in one of his 2 stories 4 bedroom rentals for 5 nights for like 100 euros a piece. It was EPIC!

We later go to Berlin, to realize... U2 was in Berlin that night as well.. no hostels ( last leg of the trip, not much cash for a hotel).. A young couple with a baby hear us complaining and invite us to their house 30 mins outstide of Berlin. They set up 2 tents in their backyard for us. Put the baby down, roll 2 HUGE spliffs, and bring us dessert and tea for the night.

Next morning we accompany the husband to a bakery - buy them breakfast and part ways.. While they were blunders on our part - it ended up being the coolest blunders ever!


Well I am embarrassed to share this but here we go. Was on a business trip from London. Thought of buying some drinks in the airport for which my passport was mandatory to show as proof.

Standing in the middle of a duty free shop, i couldn't be able to find my passport and my flight was in another hour. I was damn sure i entered the airport with the passport.

Well, I finally found the passport in the pizza box which i finished for lunch and threw it in the dustbin. I swear I don't know what I was thinking!! The accompanied business partner was petrified and pissed off. Well i would too.


I missed a flight because I was eating a Big Mac. My buddy got on the flight without me.

Image credits: Gigahurt77


I accidently missed a Saturday 12:15 am flight showing up at Sunday 12:15 am.  My brain said: Saturday 12:15 = "Saturday Night".

Image credits: FrankieBennedetto


Left my backpack on a train platform while traveling on my last day in the NL. Said backpack contained my and my partners passports along with some rather expensive booze that were to be gifts. Let’s just say a mad scramble ensued that did not turn up the bag, but someone tried to turn it in.

Got a linkedIn message a couple of hours later and got the bag and passports back, but the booze was missing. Considered it the price of being a bonehead.


I made hotel reservations for the wrong weekend. Had to find a hotel 30 minutes away. The original reservations were for a hotel we could walk out of our room onto the beach.

Image credits: mook1178


I missed my flight home on a layover in Rome from Ghana to California. And… well… I told everyone I fell asleep and missed the flight. But I really was sitting at the wrong gate reading and didn’t hear that they apparently had been calling my name forever and then just left me behind. To my credit it was a really good book. And I truly was exhausted from traveling. Even though I missed my flight they tried to put me on the next one, but that one was overbooked so they ended up paying for a hotel there. Wasn’t that big a deal in the end lol.

Image credits: zeebette


Accidentally joked to a Manchester Airport security agent about my carry on being stuffed so full it might explode. I am a Muslim woman who wears hijab.

Image credits: half_in_boxes


Scammed into buying a cheap print of the Colosseum in Rome as an original water color.

Image credits: Doismelllikearobot


My family has a travel weather curse. My grandparents' siblings and friends used to refuse to go on holiday with them because there would always be a meteorological disaster. Sure enough, when I came around, it transmitted to my mum and me. By age 11 I'd been evacuated in a forest fire in France and witnessed a tropical storm floating 4x4s in Menorca. Tried leaving my mum behind in my 20s in case she was the problem and went to Edinburgh just me and my boyfriend... there was a storm so bad it was blowing old people into the side of busses and killing them.


Lost my passport a week before I was due to go indefinitely travelling. To make it worse, I was living in Denmark and I'm a UK citizen. So I had to get an emergency passport from the British Embassy in Copenhagen, fly back to Manchester, train to Durham, pay for fast tracking passport, then back in time for the travels. Nightmare, 1/10 would not recommend.


Was bored waiting in a room coming back from Mexico. I didn't know you weren't supposed to mess with your phone while waiting for customs. They thought I was taking photos of the room. So I was there waiting the entire time because when they finally got to me it was a room full of security and they took my phone, went through every single item I had on me and asked me a million questions. They finally realized I was just playing games on my phone, not photographing everything after going through every app on my phone and days worth of photos and social media posts.


My partner and I were flying from London to Naples, but our flight was delayed by 5 hours due to the weather. When we finally got on the plane, there was an announcement made in Italian and all the passengers started kicking off, yelling at staff, and getting off the plane. They eventually relayed in English that by the time we would arrive in Naples, the airport would be closed so they were re-routing us to Rome.

We were told when we land, they would organise a bus to Naples from Rome, and to go to the Veuling service desk for more details.... noone at the desk knew anything about this. I think we waited about 2 hours for a taxi to take us from Rome to Naples airport in the end, which is about a 3 hour drive. And then take another taxi to our hotel.

We were meant to arrive in Naples at 10pm the night we left and we ended up at our hotel at around 8 am the following morning.


I was in Kyoto, riding around touring the temples and dry gardens on my own and it was a bit after noon and I was getting hungry. I was kind of out in the middle of nowhere but the only restaurant on the map in the neighborhood was quite highly rated so I detoured over there, parked my bike and went in.

When traveling abroad, outside of the main tourist areas you find yourself in situations where nobody speaks your language. Now, I studied Japanese in highschool but that was a long time ago and my Japanese had mostly been reduced to courtesies. I was two weeks into the trip and become accustomed to working with the traveller's language of smiles and pointing. No problem.

Upon arriving, the host welcomed me and showed me to a low table and brought me a cup of tea. I sat down awaiting a menu and they brought me some little snacks -- sort of like Korean banchan. I thought this was lovely and started trying a few while they stepped away.

Somehow, though, their reaction was alarmed and they hurried back to try and the host started trying to patiently explain something to me entirely in Japanese. In my confusion, I looked around the restaurant and noticed a suspiciously large number of chest refrigerators along the wall.

In fact, I was not in a restaurant at all. I was in a high-end pickle store.

It took me another 30m of pickle sampling and about $50 in fancy pickles (nicely gift-wrapped) before I managed to make my escape, but the pickles were undeniably delicious and at least I managed to square away a few gifts to share with friends back home.


Went to Germany many years ago, first time travelling abroad and first time in a country speaking a different language. A long stopover in Hong Kong coupled with a long a*s flight from there to Munich meant the brain wasn't at the full 10%. I needed a drink bad so I stepped into a little airport shop, grabbed a Coke, and took it to the counter, fully ready to have to deal with German for the first time while running on fumes. When the cashier asked me a question, I fired back in the most broken Deutsch possible, "My German is good not." She cracked up laughing, as did her colleague, and then said, "That was English! I asked for your flight number!"

My German has barely improved since.


Departing holiday destination. Trains were delayed, so we took the bus to airport.

The problem was that the city has two different bus lines using the same code. They leave minutes apart from the same stop to the same direction. One goes to airport and the other doesn't. Not even the public transport website distinguishes the two.

Guess which bus we accidentally took?

We realized this at some point, but the next stop was minutes away, and then we had difficulties finding a cab. Basically my SO had to install some local taxi app and book one, which again took minutes to arrive.

Upon reaching the airport, we made a dash through priority security and even reached the gate 10 mins before departure. Yet the gate had been closed. Alas, one surplus night at the airport hotel.

Luckily, next day our new flight was delayed 3+ hours, so we got the comp money.


Entered Zambia illegally, didn't get a visa and they threatened to detain me when I was leaving.

I'd been on a safari through Botswana that ended in Victoria Falls. We stayed on the Zimbabwe side and crossed back and forth into Zambia for excursions. Each time we crossed, the driver took everyone's passports into immigration and got them stamped.

It came time to fly from the tiny Victoria Falls airport to my destination in Zambia and I didn't think about checking in with immigration. So off I went on a canoeing adventure on the Lower Zambezi River. It was fabulous!

At the end of the trip I went to another tiny airport in Zambia. Got to immigration and the guy asked me where my visa was. Ummm....I don't have one. I explained the border crossings in Victoria Falls and my failure to go to immigration. He was kind enough to let me go, another dumb tourist.


Had to travel to Turkey with an hour layover in Frankfurt and realised I had forgot my passport while in Frankfurt. Im from Portugal.

Edit: There's more! This made me lose my flight to Turkey. My gf shipped my passport to a nearby hotel the next morning,I booked another flight and got to the conference in time. When I went to do check in for the returning flight from Turkey to Portugal I got a message saying no booking found. Edreams had canceled my return flights since I missed the first one. All in all had to buy an hotel stay and two more flights out of pocket.


Taking my stepdaughter and her *new* (well, 3 months) boyfriend on a camping trip in France. They basically fought the whole trip (he wanted to go back on the second day already) and they broke up shortly after that trip. Also turned out he was afraid of heights and we planned to do some alpine hiking...

It was hell for me, her and my wife.


Booked a holiday to Ibiza from the uk whilst out at a rave. Discovered the next day that instead of flying Southampton to Ibiza I was actually flying Southampton to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Madrid, Madrid to Ibiza meaning what should have been a 2 hour flight took most of the day. Whoops.


Years ago I (30F -roughly- at the time) was staying in a hotel while on a work trip and the room had a sliding glass door to the bathroom. I didn't think anything of it and undressed in the main room and went in with nothing to take a shower.

At some point the sliding glass door wasn't on its track right anymore. I couldn't tell when I closed it. After I got out of my shower, I couldn't open the door. It was heavy, like 100lbs and there was no handle on the inside. It was just a tiny little metal indentation.

Needless to say I was stuck inside the bathroom for over 2 hours. Screaming and banging on the walls and door with one of the unused toilet paper rolls. FINALLY someone heard me and called for security. It took 3 of these big security guys to get the door off to let me out. I was incredibly disoriented from being stuck in the steamy bathroom for 2 hours.

The worst part was I only had 2 towels in the bathroom, and they weren't very big. So these big men had to see me basically naked to get me out. It was incredibly embarrassing and the one guy kept coming back into the room to tell me stuff after I told him I am putting the towels down and getting dressed.

Then they "moved my room" and said that was "complimentary" for my stay (they'd have to change my room anyway to fix the door... tf?). I tried to stay an extra day on my own expense because I was going to be too exhausted to drive home that morning, but they wanted to charge me their new (almost twice the price) rate for the next day (it was a Saturday, and apparently that much busier than a Friday night).

I will never go back there again. And to this day, I still never close the bathroom door if it's a sliding glass one when showering or bathing.


I guess not having luggage is a bit of a red flag. I got stopped for extra questioning by French Customs, and I maybe should have been less honest than I was.

*"What do you do in America"*

*"I'm a University student"*

*"What do you study?"*

*"Biology and Psychology"*

*"Biology? Did you bring any microbes into the country?"*


In retrospect, it was kinda neat to see the "extra questioning" room in the Charles de Gaulle airport.


I'm on vacation as we speak.

Loaded our bikes the day before we left and put a bike padlock on them to make sure nobody could take them of carrier overnight.

Arrived at our destination only to find out I forgot the forgot the padlock key.

Luckily, park maintenance had an angle grinder and cut the lock. But yeah, that was pretty dumb and now I need to buy a new lock.


On my honeymoon in Portugal. Flew into Lisbon, went around the country for a while. Ended the trip in Porto and had to get back to Lisbon for our return flight. Had a train ticket booked months in advance. Everything in order. Getting back into Lisbon mid-day for a flight the next morning. No worries.

Until we boarded the train and I realized I booked the ticket for the wrong day. The ticket was for the following day (when our flight was scheduled)

Got kicked off the train. All the other trains were totally booked for the rest of the day.

Ended up getting an Uber to a car rental, paying like €500 for the only automatic transmission car they had (sorry, I don’t know how to drive manual) and had to drive from Porto to Lisbon.

Ended up making it and it’s a funny story to tell now, but at the time it was awful. Especially since it was 100% my fault.


Early 20s, went to a bar/nightclub in Istanbul with my girlfriend. Throughout the night, stupidly ordered several of these half-bottles of champagne that were on the menu with no price listed. Of course when the bill came, it turned out they had either brought out the most expensive thing they had, or simply claimed that it was that expensive, and it was way more money than I could even pay if I wanted. 

They then threatened us, saying we don't understand how the police work there, it's not like America, we don't want them to call the police, etc. The line from Airplane, "have you ever seen the inside of a Turkish prison?" is running through my head the entire time. 

After a long standoff with them insisting I needed to draw all my money out of the ATM and me insisting I didn't have it, eventually they either believed me or gave up and settled the bill for some reasonable amount that I had on me.

Obviously they were trying to take advantage of me here but it was also very stupid of me to give them that chance by ordering unpriced items and not asking the price.


I just read an article about a 40 yr old American couple that brought ammo on accident to a Caribbean island where if you bring in guns and ammo theres a mandatory 12yr prison sentence, and the US embassy specifically warn people not to bring guns or ammo, and they can't help you if you do. That's a pretty big blunder.


On a train ride back to Rome from Venice, I had accidentally bought my ticket for the wrong day. The ticket checker said I had until Bologna to buy the correct ticket on my phone or I would have to get off in Bologna. Well I couldn't get my service to work so my brother and I switched hats and seats and sort of hid until we passed Bologna. I thought we were in the clear until the ticket checker came by again, and, being entertained by our disguise attempt, asked if I got the ticket. I told him no but I could pay for one in euros and he became visibly annoyed and pulled out his computer pad and started scrolling on it. After a while he looked around at the mostly empty train car, put his pad away, shrugged, and said "I don't want to do it. Call it a gift." And walked away and it was the most Italian thing that happened to me on that trip and I'm pretty sure I owe the mob a favor now.


Went from germany to UK for a short trip, being broke af. Realized after I entered UK that they use different power outlets than germany. Fun Times with a half charged powerbank and your flight ticket only digitally.


Overslept in St Maarten and missed my flight, had to spend a extra day. A good blunder in my case.

Another blunder- Decided to wander San Juan, PR late at night w/ 2 friends and got lost. We were on a cruise and this was a stop. Saw some people going in and out of building with no signage but it was obviously a bar of some sort. When we walked in everyone stopped and stared.

We walked up to the bar and asked for beers when a group of men approached us, 2 of them pistols in their belts, they all had knives on their belts as well. They were calm and asked us questions, "you're lost, yes?. You're American tourists, yes?" They were sizing us up but we just answered their questions, told them we were on a cruise and got lost, wanted to get a few drinks and find our way back. One of the guys I was with is a bartender and he offered to make drinks. They liked the idea and he made all kinds of shooters and mixed drinks with the old guy who was behind the bar. After about a hour we headed out with directions to get back to our ship. It was scary at first but it turned out alright.


Good friend and I (Canadians) went backpacking in Europe this past November/December.

We landed in Dublin on the night of the 23rd of November. For those of whom that are unaware, there were some pretty massive riots in city center that night including lighting a city bus and police car on fire.

We had to walk with our 20kg bags from the airport to our hostel in city center because none of the busses were willing to drive anywhere near Dublin. We walked past masked individuals with bags filled with clothing, shoes, electronics all with hangers and tags still on them. We’re both pretty big guys but it was definitely sketchy walking around with big backpacks while the vast majority of people around you are breaking into stores and looting.

Interesting night for sure, we got to the hostel safe and sound and our time in Dublin was fine afterwards, but it was certainly one of the crazier experiences I’ve had.


Forgot my IDP when i travelled to Japan last year. Couldn't switch to public transport as my itinerary was planned around places that were hard to reach

Had to forgo 2 nights of prebooked hotel + last min booking of 2 nights stay around Narita as i wait for my IDP to be couried over by DHL.

My IDP was kept in my locked vehicle and i stupidly brought the keys with me with no spares at home. Had to engage someone to break open my car door, retrieve the IDP from my glove box and hand it over to a family member to courier it over.

Initially DHL promised 24 hrs timeline but the next day was a national holiday so local couriers were not delivering.

Once IDP was received, quickly went to retrieved my rented vehicle (rental co promised to hold the vehicle for 2 days). Staff was shocked to see me as he didnt believe I would really courier the IDP over. Got my vehicle, drove straight to Toyama from Narita to catch up with my itinerary.

Now my IDP is permanently placed in my travel pouch.


As I was checking into customs at Heathrow airport in London, I told the agent I "was on a missiong from God." I was changing planes there for a flight to Newquay. My end destination was Port Isaac. I said that because when I first saw Port Isaac on the TV show Doc Martin, I felt like God was telling me to go there. It was just so lovely and just resonated with me at the soul level. Never tell a customs agent you're on a mission from God. The Border patrol detained me for 8 hours before finally clearing me. I made it to Port Isaac in the end, but for a while there I was concerned. I had to fly to Paris after my visit to the UK, and when the customs agent asked me "purpose of visit" I had learned my lesson. I just said "tourism." That will be my go to from now on!


Went to Vegas with my best friend and his then fiancé. Was gambling at the hard rock and there were burlesque dancers all throughout the hotel. His fiancé had a complete break down that there were women dancing in the hotel. First she screamed at him for well over an hour in public. Then we went to a show were she sat separate from all of us. Then turned her attention to me and started yelling I was trying to break them up by taking them to that casino. Longest 3 days of my life.


At Berlin's old Tegel airport there was a security checkpoint by each gate, and you needed to pick up your checked bags at the gate before leaving.

I knew that, but in my rush to get off the plane I forgot. As soon as I was outside I realized my mistake, but they wouldn't let me back in to get my bag. I needed to wait several hours at customer service to get my bag, and so I just barely caught the last train to my destination and arrived around midnight.

By that point there weren't any taxis available so I ended up walking a few hours by phone flashlight through the German countryside.


I had gone to the DMV before my flight and managed to leave my driver's license with my packet of papers from there when I went to the airport. I cobbled together all the stuff in my wallet to use as ID and the TSA somehow let me through. Then I never got carded for drinks the whole trip.

I had some friends accidentally book a flight to San Jose, CA instead of San Jose, Puerto Rico. They made it all the way there before realizing their mistake.


My blunder was after traveling. I’m an American, who went to London, Paris, Rome and Munich over the span of two weeks. Back home and during a work meeting, someone asked me how it was. I said, “It was great…but it’s good to be back home, where everyone speaks English.”

We had a pretty culturally diverse team. So I said this in front of—among other people—a Chinese person, two Indian people, an Uzbekistani person, a Swedish person, and my boss, who was from Tanzania. It was a total foot-in-mouth moment. What I’d meant to say was, “It’s good to be back home, where I understand the language fully.”

For months after that, I feared they thought I was one of those entitled Americans who goes to other countries expecting people to cater to me.


1 Missed a plane to Australia   

2 Double checked my departure times for a later flight, and accidentally remembered arrival time as departure time. Thank God it was a short hop and I meant to arrive ludicrously early. Almost missed that flight.  

3 thought I had a connected flight same day, turned out to be a day later  

4 booked a ticket for myself and a friend for the right day number but the wrong month number. Found out the night before the supposed flight. Had to buy two first class tickets instead. Short hop from Korea to Japan, so thankfully not insanely expensive. There are more.  

 I am uncharacteristically terrible at this.


Going to Mexico from Vancouver with my roommate and her idiot boyfriend. 2 days before we go he says he cant find his passport.

Too late to cancel everything now, so we pack up to go anyways. He brings every piece of ID he can find, and literally anything he has with his name on it. His high school year book, newspaper clippings from his baseball team winning a tournament, his old student bus pass and ID.

We arrive at our local airport and obviously he gets taken into security at YVR and after about 45mins they actually let him out and he's allowed to board the flight. We get to PHX where we have to transfer and go through US security which results in another 45min, and then they just bring him to the gate where they have a drawer full of pre-notorized and signed declaration forms stating that someone has verified he is who he is, and he's allowed on the plane to Cabo.

We arrive at SJD and its show time. Can he get into Mexico.

My roommate and I get through without issue, and then he rocks up to the woman at the customs counter with his year book and newspaper clippings in hand. She looks at him like he has two heads, asks him on he is doing, and then motions for the security guard to come over.

Security meanwhile must have had a good gym day, as he is just stood in the corner looking at and flexing his own muscles (he was a BIG guy).

Customs official shouts and waves again.

More flexing, damn he's Mr Universe today.

Customs looks at the crowd of people on our newly arrived flight, looks at the line thats forming in her lane, rolls her eyes, and waves our friend through.