I’ve currently been traveling full-time for just over three months now. And while it’s amazing in SO many ways, it also has its downs. So what better time than now to share some of my funny travel stories?! The times where shit. went. wrong.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my frequent travels it’s this: reality loves to smack you right in the face sometimes.
What do I mean by that? Well, you can plan everything perfectly – your itinerary, accommodations, what you’re going to pack, etc. And despite all that, things can (and WILL) still go wrong for many of us.
And that’s why this installment is likely “Part I” – as I’m sure as I continue on this journey there will be a forthcoming “Part II.” It’s like I’m psychic or something.
But, on the positive side, these experiences teach us how to roll with the punches. Or remind us what’s truly important in life. I may have experienced some tough situations, and I may have shed some frustrated tears (like…a lot), but no one got hurt (yet).
And I also haven’t yet lost my passport or been arrested in a foreign country (I’ve seen Locked Up: Abroad!). Both of which are huge fears of mine.
So with that, let’s share some comedic relief with some funny travel stories about my mistakes and mishaps during the first three months of full-time travel.
Funny Travel Stories
The Cold War
When we started loosely planning our route, we of course factored weather into the equation. Naturally we didn’t want to be lugging around multiple seasons worth of clothes on our backs.
So, it was easier to plan on hitting countries when the weather would be on the warmer side. Less layers required = less clothes required. Plus cute dresses and beach attire is way more interesting on the ‘gram anyway.
The one exception to this is that we knew we would be going to Bolivia in the winter. In a lot of places in South America, winter is not that bad. Like still in the 50s or 60s for the most part. Although to the people who live there, that’s jeans, long sleeve, sweatshirt AND a coat weather. They sure looked at me funny walking around in skirts and dresses (it’s still humid!).
But, Bolivia is typically at a higher elevation than most places. It even boasts the award (if you can really call it that) for having the highest capital city in the world, La Paz.
That means winter temps are significantly lower than the rest of South America. Daytime is OK, but at night it can drop to 0 degrees. Burrrr!
So to plan for that, we decided it would be best to pack winter coats with us. Sure, we wouldn’t need them most of the time…but we would be happy to have them in Bolivia.
Great plan, right??
That is, until I left mine in the overhead compartment of our flight from Lima, Peru to Cusco, Peru. *face palm*
Naturally I contacted the airline as soon as I realized it. However, after days of being told to check again in 12 hours, my item was never reported as being found. Interesting.
Alright, such is life. We were only one month into our trip and couldn’t let a little lost coat get me down. So rather than buy another expensive coat, we thought we would just get by with what we had. I could layer up as much as possible. And we could share my boyfriend’s coat (it had an internal thermal layer, and an external rain layer).
I guess by surviving you could say that worked? No one froze to death. Hooray! However, it was certainly not ideal. During our 3-day jeep excursion through southern Bolivia, we stayed very local in bare bones accommodations.
And bare bones doesn’t mean they didn’t have a gym or pool (my typical measuring stick in the US). I mean bare bones like they didn’t have heat, or sometimes even running water. Take a second and let that sink in. They didn’t have heat…in winter…when it drops to 0 degrees at night.
So pretty much every night we were sleeping fully clothed, with layers, 1/2 of our remaining coat, in a sleeping bag, with blankets piled on top. Oh, and gloves and hats on.
And we were still cold. Sure could have used that “extra” coat. Oh well, lesson learned!
At least we bought coats with multiple layers, so my boyfriend had an “extra” layer to spare. That was smart of us. It probably kept me from freezing to death in the middle of the night.
The Tide is Rising
So far we’ve had really good luck with Airbnb on this trip. We’ve had great hosts, and apartments that are in reality as described online. That is, until we got to La Paz, Bolivia.
Now don’t get me wrong. We knew this Airbnb wasn’t going to be luxury. But it looked pretty good from the pictures, and had an amazing view of the city from the living room.
We arrived to La Paz by bus, and checked in super late. Our host was gracious and met us in person despite the late hour. Off to a good start!
That is until we woke up the next morning and started poking around. There were ants in the kitchen just running amok. There were cobwebs in many visible places that gave it an extra dirty feel. The floor planks were coming loose in many spots.
Yucky, but not terrible. We could live with this for six nights. Especially for the killer deal we got on the place.
So we go about our lives, and we have a grand old time exploring La Paz (an amazing city…highly recommend). One afternoon we wander in to one of the local hostels, because it was the same chain as the one we stayed at in Peru. So we figured (correctly) that it would be a good place to meet some fellow friendly travelers for a fun night.
By the end of the night, we stumble (via Uber) back to our apartment and pour ourselves into bed.
Around 6 am the next morning, I wake up to use the restroom. And while I’m doing my business, I notice that the bath mat is wet. In my hungover / just woke up grogginess…I think “that’s weird, the mat is still wet from when we showered yesterday?”
Then as I’m walking back to our room, I see that spots on the floor are also wet. Still not connecting the dots quite yet.
Then I get to our room and see that anything that is touching the floor is completely soaked. That would mean the blankets on the bed (because the mattress is basically sitting on the floor in this place). Our clothes that we had on the floor. Everything.
So now I realize we have a problem, and I wake the bf up. We are looking around, assessing the damage. Luckily it narrowly missed our laptop, which was also sitting on the floor on my bf’s side of the bed.
We start investigating, trying to find the source of the water, and can’t find anything. Did it rain and it flooded through the windows? Did the toilet overflow and flood? We have no idea.
Best we can figure is some workers that have been buzzing about the complex the past few days made an oopsie.
But this was the last straw. This place already sucked, and now it has flooded in the middle of the night. On the worst possible night when we are not 100% mentally equipped to handle it the next day!
We contact our host and send him pictures of the damage. And we start packing our stuff up and looking for new accommodations.
He arrives, assesses the situation, and tells us the toilet malfunctioned and over flowed. Which, we don’t really believe because somehow the water also got shut off from the outside. So now we are all-in with our construction worker theory.
So then our Airbnb host tells us he has another apartment in the same complex that he can have us move over to. Naturally, we are cautious. Is this apartment just as crappy as this one? Do we want to continue dealing with that after floodgate?
We reluctantly agree to see the place. And wow…it was WAY better than the place we were renting. Even better view (if you can believe it), a bigger more well-equipped kitchen with no ants, and beds on actual bed frames. Jackpot!
So we moved our stuff over to the new place, and finished out our time in La Paz. Luckily nothing was ruined by the flooding. We may have been forced to deal with a stressful situation whilst also hungover, but life goes on.
The apartment that he moved us to after the flooding incident was WAY nicer. Like no ants in the kitchen and the mattress wasn’t laying on the ground nice. #blessed
Oh That? That’s Cancelled.
There wasn’t much on this trip that we planned super far in advance. Part of the excitement of taking a trip like this is remaining as flexible as you can be. That way you can leave one location early if it doesn’t wind up being all you hoped. Or you can join friends in a location you didn’t plan on before.
It’s all part of the fun!
But above when I mentioned we took a 4-day jeep tour through southern Bolivia…that was a must. I knew it was something we absolutely had to do during our travels.
And that means I started planning for it pretty early on. I researched companies online, contacted them to get quotes, figured out where the best place to start from was. The whole gamut.
We decided starting from Tupiza, Bolivia was the way to go. You got to see more (without wasting time back tracking at all), and you ended the tour with the salt flats in Uyuni vs. starting there. Who wants to see the Super Bowl then watch the regular season games?? Not us.
The only “problem” was getting from La Paz to Tupiza wasn’t going to be easy. And there’s no direct way there. The best option includes taking a 4-hour bus from La Paz to Oruro, and then taking a 12-hour train from Oruro to Tupiza. UGH.
But it was going to be worth it. I was sure of it.
Leading up to our tour, I had been in regular contact with our tour company. Finalizing details, providing a deposit, renting sleeping bags, etc. In fact, the day before we left was the last contact that I had with them. So all was a go, right??
After traveling 18+ hours over two days to get to Tupiza, we walk into the tour office the morning of our tour only to be told that our tour had been cancelled.
And of course they were all like “didn’t you get our email?” No. Because I don’t receive emails that were NEVER SENT.
We learn that basically the other two people who were taking our tour had cancelled. And they require a minimum of four people to run the tour. So unless we wanted to pay double for a private tour…we were out of luck.
Defeated, we left their office and ran down the street to a competitor to see if they had room for us. A girl we had met on the train was departing that same day with them. But sadly, they did not have space to add two more on short (literally minutes) notice.
The manager of that tour told us we could catch a bus in a couple hours and head directly to Uyuni where it would be easy peasy to find a tour that starts from there. NOT ideal. We really wanted to start from Tupiza. But we had no other options at this point.
So we grabbed our stuff and began sulking towards the bus station. We passed by the office of the tour who cancelled on us, and one of the office ladies ran out to talk to us.
She had some travelers who came into the office and booked a tour for the following day. And if we could wait one more day, we could join their tour from Tupiza. Oh, and she would give us a free night in their hotel for the inconvenience their lack of communication had caused.
Personally I was so mad I didn’t really want to do business with them. But considering the other options we had, it was the best solution. We just had to change some other plans down the line, but we could make it work.
And I’m happy we did. Our tour wound up being one of the single best things we have done on this trip (so far).
The tour we wound up taking was seriously the best. We had the best tour guide, the best cook, and the best travel companions we could have asked for. That could have been very different if we had taken our regularly scheduled tour the day before.
Oops I Did It Again
Caution: funny travel stories repeat ahead.
Remember above when I discussed losing my winter coat right before heading into 0 degree winter weather in Bolivia? And how I learned a lesson, but it was OK because my boyfriend and I were just doing sharesies on his coat?
Yeah, well, I lost half of that coat too (the internal thermal layer).
In the EXACT same way I lost the first coat. I left it in the overhead bin of another flight. This time from Santiago, Chile to Sao Paulo, Brazil (on our way to Rio de Janeiro).
So for those keeping count…1 1/2 coats lost on this trip. Both brand new before we started this journey. Both meant to make it home with us and become our new coats. That dream is now lost, thanks to me and my (apparent) forgetful nature.
Maybe now it’s a lesson learned?? I will just stop putting anything in the overhead bin.
Literally NOTHING. I suck.
Lost and Found
Since we are traveling full-time, we have been leaning more towards Airbnb than any other accommodation type (hotels, hostels, etc.). This is because they will typically have amenities that make us feel more at home: a kitchen, living area, etc.
Another benefit is that we have had good luck with them having a washing machine as well. Not so much dryers…that’s more rare in other countries. But at least we can wash, and hang dry our clothes most of the time.
However, that isn’t always the case. So we have had to take our clothes to be laundered a few times along the way. It’s actually kind of nice! You drop it off, they clean it, and fold it, and then you just pick it back up.
Easy peasy, right?
Well, when we were in Buenos Aires…we ran into some issues with this easy peasy plan.
First off, the turnaround time is 48 hours. A whole two days! Everywhere else you could pick up the next day…sometimes even within a couple hours.
But, ok…we can deal with that. So we drop our clothes off, and pick them up two days later. Then, as we are going through everything, we notice we are each missing some socks. We each only have a handful of pairs, so it’s really easy to tell when some are missing.
We check the laundry again. Not there.
We check our other clothes. Not there.
We check our feet. Not there!
So they must be missing, and the only logical explanation is the laundry place misplaced them. Whatever. We go about our lives.
Before we left Buenos Aires, we wanted to get one more laundry drop off in. So we take our clothes to the same place. It’s crazy convenient, right around the corner.
And since we are back there, we take the opportunity to ask about our missing socks.
Us: “Hey, you didn’t happen to find some extra socks lying around did you? We were missing some in our last batch of laundry when we picked it up.”
Laundry place: “Oh no. That’s impossible. We wash everything separately, nothing is mixed together. It goes from your bag, to the washer, to the dryer, and back into your bag.”
Us: “Hmmmm, OK. Must be our mistake then.”
So you would think they would handle our new batch of laundry with extra super duper care, right? We claimed they lost our stuff, after all.
Well, you would be mistaken. When we picked up our next load, and examined everything upon arriving home, we found more issues.
Not only were we missing another pair of socks. But we had also gained a pair of sapphire blue, satin granny panties. Not mine, and certainly not my bf’s either.
Impossible, huh? You’ve got a fool-proof system, you say? YEAH RIGHT.
Also literally nothing! We lost socks (when we already have very few), and I had to throw away someone’s granny panties. And that person lost a pair of granny panties.
Some of you may read these funny travel stories and think “Hey, that’s not THAT bad.” And you’d be right. And I’m thankful for that. It could always be worse.
But, when you’re traveling full-time and dealing with all the stress that comes with that, you can (and will) have a little mini meltdown and cry over some small-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things stuff.
Hopefully you live and learn – but, like, actually learn. Not like how I “learned” after losing coat #1. And you keep forging ahead.
Maybe I will be wrong and there won’t be a funny travel stories part II in the coming months. But I’m guessing there will be. Ya know, because that’s life and shit doesn’t stop going wrong just because you’re on a dream trip around the world!
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