Dumbest Things I've Done

The Dumbest Things I’ve Done While Traveling

Derek Everything Else, Personal Stuff 152 Comments

Dumbest Things I've Done

The idea for this post came about after I mentioned one of the “dumbest things I’ve done while traveling” on my Facebook Page the other day. The result was not only having my kind readers confirm that what I had done was indeed quite stupid, but also a long list of tales from others who were willing to share some of their not-so-brightest moments from their own travels.

I figured I’d move that discussion over here by adding a few more examples of how I can be a little, well, ‘slow’ at times. Luckily, however, I’m fairly confident that every single traveler out there has had plenty of similar moments, which hopefully we’ll soon discover!

Let’s start with the dumb moment I mentioned on my Facebook Page and go from there…

Mango incident: I was in India, someone handed me a mango for the first time in my life and I had no idea how to eat it. So, I just stuck the entire thing, with the skin on, in my mouth. The man who gave it to me looked horrified and asked “What are you doing?”. Sensing that I had done something stupid, I just said, “This is how I eat mangoes.”

Eating a rat: While in Vang Vieng, Laos, two other travelers and I decided to visit the local market one evening. The idea was that we would each purchase some kind of food item to bring back to the guesthouse and share with the group for a nice local dinner. So, I bought a rat from a woman who was selling whole rats that were sliced open and grilled over a small fire, complete with rat nose, rat eyes, rat toes and rat tail still in place. When we returned to the guesthouse, the others were not too thrilled with my choice and so I was left to take a bite out of it myself (see above photo). After taking a bite, I looked a little more closely at the rat only to discover over a dozen maggots moving around in the flesh. I vomited. And then I felt extremely sick to my stomach for a good couple of days afterward.

Wrong airport terminal: This one’s a classic and has probably happened to many people….I once waited at the wrong terminal at Bangkok’s old Don Mueang International Airport for over three hours for a friend of mine who was arriving from Australia. Had I spent one second reading all of the information on the huge “Arrivals” screen I would have clearly seen that her flight had arrived at Terminal 1, not Terminal 2 where I had been waiting. I ended up leaving the airport completely worried and confused as to why she hadn’t arrived, and naturally, my friend had left the airport completely upset as to why I wasn’t there to pick her up. This tale did end well though, with a crazy story of how we finally managed to meet up in Bangkok.

Dumbest Things I've Done

Nearly frozen to death: Combine -20C temperatures, a massive snow storm, sidewalks covered in ice and my occasional stubbornness and you get a very dumb decision on my part. It happened during the winter of 2012 while I was in Bucharest, Romania and I had just finished meeting up with Niall Doherty for some afternoon shisha and good conversation in the old city center. After parting ways, I tried to hail a taxi to take me back to my friend’s apartment where I was staying, but every taxi I asked either wouldn’t take me or they wanted an exorbitant price because of the snow storm and resulting road conditions. I refused to pay the inflated rate and so, despite being in jeans, t-shirt, light winter jacket and running shoes, I decided to walk the 4 kilometers back to the apartment in protest since that was my only other option. By the time I arrived, my face was a block of ice, I couldn’t feel my feet or hands and I was about to collapse, feeling quite sick as I stumbled through those final steps. When my friend opened the door, I just looked at her and said, “I’m going to die.” Later that evening, after telling my friend the story, she simply stated, “Why didn’t you just take the metro? You walked past three metro stations”.

(Here’s a video I made that shows you exactly how to survive an Eastern European winter!)

Blood for nothing: I was working on my first cruise ship when, one evening during my second week on board, I wanted to get some fresh air and just stand on the outside deck for a while. But since my work was finished for the day, I was no longer wearing my uniform and so I had to sneak through the ship in my shorts and t-shirt in order to reach the main outside deck, hoping that I wouldn’t get caught. Eventually, I found a large door that led outside and I pushed it open, only to have a huge gust of wind push it straight back, causing the bolt of the door to slice open my thumb. As blood started to pour out, I quickly ran inside to the Reception Desk to get help and they called the nurse and had me taken care of. The next day I had to meet with the Hotel Director and I assumed that I would get in trouble for being out of uniform in the passenger areas. Instead, he just looked at me and said, “You do know that we have an entire outside deck just for crew members?” Oops.

Bucket shower: In India, many budget hotels only have cold-water showers and if you want to take a hot shower, you need to ask the hotel staff to heat you up a bucket full of water. The first time I did this, the owner of the small hotel brought me the bucket of hot water and I went into the bathroom, where I scooped up some water with a small bowl. I then dumped the water straight over me. It never crossed my mind that the steam coming out of the bucket was a result of the water being extremely hot and that the proper method was to mix that water with some of the cold water from the actual shower. I just poured a bowl of near boiling water on myself instead. Oh yeah, it hurt.

I’m sure at this point you know what’s coming. It is indeed time to hear about your own ‘not so bright’ moments during your travels, whether they happened overseas or in your home country. So, what’s some of the dumbest things you’ve done?

Please help me feel better about my own dumb moments by sharing yours below!

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Comments 152

  1. rose

    Haha! I’m sure a few things have been obliterated from my memory out of sheer shame, but I’ve certainly had my fair share of stupid travel moments… Though I’m not one to try out too many strange foods!

    I remember one time when I missed my Ryan Air flight from Mallorca to Barcelona – the check-in closed 5 minutes early and I got there at the last minute, we were at least 4 or 5 people who had missed the flight. My boyfriend didn’t have to check-in as he was European, and so he left without me and I went to shop around for a new (10 times more expensive) ticket. As I was shopping for an alternative flight, I made friends with a guy who had also missed the flight, and we helped each other out as we ran around comparing flight prices, watched each other’s luggage, and eventually went to eat at the airport staff cafeteria together. We got along so well and had so much in common that we talked and talked for hours, and our flight was in such a long time that I insisted we stay downstairs where we could go outside and I could finish my bottle of water. At one point, in the middle of a conversation about chinese medicine, we looked at the time – and our plane was about to take off!!! We raced through security and as we got to our gate, the employee at the counter shook her head and informed us that it was too late to get on the plane… my heart sank. But as we explained that we had been engrossed in our conversation and had never heard any call for boarding, another employee very kindly booked us 2 seats on the following flight and drove us back to the waiting area. I must confess: I called my boyfriend who was waiting to pick me up in Barcelona, and told him the flight had been delayed. After getting mad at him about getting to the airport too late the very same morning, I wasn’t about to tell him the real story 🙂

  2. Sam D

    Thanks for sharing Earl!
    Your silly stories made my day! Thanks for the laugh, I laught because it is all something that can happen to each of us. I cant think of anything silly to share atm 🙁

  3. The Vagabond

    In November 2012 my flight was delayed a few hours arriving in Japan, I SHOULD have called my hostel and confirmed I would be there just after check in time. After failing to do that I found myself unable to find a cab that either spoke English, or would read the map written in Japanese (This is apparently not uncommon in Japan) so I walked a few km in the wrong direction, arrived at a shuttered and closed hostel and then walked back to the train station and slept on the stairs until morning. In short I learned to get phone numbers, and directions in a language you can read!

  4. Miguel

    Hey it’s has been great for me to read this article I feel better right now haha.

    I had the same problem that you had in Bucharest but mine took place in Rome when once I miss followed advices and finished walking throughout a very dark and narrow highway on my way to the airport of Ciampino at 2am. Taxis were extremely expensive because it was late and they only worked with pre order call. It was raining like the hell and was very cold, but not enough for my braveness at that moment. I spent the night outside of the only Hotel around where there was not place to stay. I had 3 or 4 layers on me, all wet and unable to correctly pronounce a word because of what a cold it was.

    For my bad luck I decided to fly without baggage because I would be returned from Spain to Rome one day after my departure.

    In the morning a worker of the hotel took me to the airport at 5 am. I got my clothes dried until I landed in the sunny Spain.

  5. Andy

    Probably the dumbest thing (in theory) I’ve done abroad –

    Walking home from a party… at 3 am… totally drunk… in Medellin, Colombia! 😉

  6. Kristin of Be My Travel Muse

    ooooh major fail to have been eating when I read this. The rat thing…groooosssss.

    I completely missed the lantern festival in Chiang Mai, after planning my whole trip around it (and I don’t plan!) because I thought it was on a different day than it actually was, and the locals don’t love it when tourists invade their release ceremony, so I was duped. So sad…

  7. Spinster

    Word to the wise: don’t eat Pizza Hut in a town in the middle of the Andes Mountains in Venezuela. Just take note… don’t ask me where this word to the wise is from. 😐

  8. Karen

    When we were travelling in Laos I would ask a local if I could take their picture. They’d shake their hand at me as if to say no. So I’d just nod my head, smile and leave. It was only after I left that I learnt that the hand shake meant ‘yes!’. They must have thought I was quite strange.

  9. Kevin Kato

    A woman in a backwoods village in northern Laos suggested I go barefoot on the 3-hour hike to the next, more-backwoods village. ‘It’s better that way’ was her only reasoning. I listened. And ended up having to choose between the ferocious pain of running over the rocks and roots to avoid (most of) the leeches or walking to avoid the pain of running over the rocks and roots and having my feet sucked dry by the leeches. Good story now I guess…

  10. Steven

    Nice article – I don’t think I can top your stories.

    My mum though – hadn’t travelled for 25 yrs or so (health issues) but as I hadn’t been home for 7 yrs or so, she really wanted to see me, so we decided to meet up in the US. The last time she had travelled the norm was to have a pouch strapped to your body carrying your money (according to her). Also due to her illnesses, she also had to carry in a supply of HGH (she did have the paperwork). So she landed in LA, going through security they found the money pouch containing a few thousand dollars and then obviously the drugs. 1 1/2 hours later, strip searched, interviewed about being a drug runner etc, she was allowed to continue. Felt sorry for her as a 75 yr old with heakth issues probably shoudn’t be subjected to that, but ultimately it was a stupid act on her part to have something strapped to her body. Not sure why it wasnt picked up on boarding though.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Steven – That’s a tough one and I’m sure it wasn’t enjoyable at all for your mum. Unfortunately when entering the US you have to be super-careful and not do anything that would even lead to the most remote suspicion that you are doing something illegally. It’s just a part of life there now, at least in the airports. Glad they let her go without too much trouble in the end.

  11. Forest Parks

    I could do a followup post on this I have done so many dumb things!

    A one up on your wrong terminal!

    I was standing with my girlfriend at Stanstead airport (London) waiting to check in to go to Dublin. The Easyjet flight was running 30mins late but that was ok. Waiting to check in we received a message from a friend in N.Ireland who was going to pick us up at the airport. He asked if we were at Gatwick yet! I realised that he made a mistake but decided to check my ticket anyway….. Turned out we was supposed to be at Luton airport! OH SH*T! We were in the cue to check in to a different flight running just 30mins later…. Luckily the airline switched our flight for a small fee.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Forest – Very lucky with just a ‘small feel’! With the way things go these days with the airlines, you could have ended up having to buy another ticket!

  12. Nate

    Well, this is nothing compared to what others have written, but it is a good “lesson learned” story. After a long and tiring trip from Athens, Greece, a friend and I arrived for the first time in the Milano Central train station pretty late at night and quickly grabbed a taxi, giving him the address of the pension where we were to stay written on a piece of paper. We drove for approximately 45 minutes until we finally reached the pension.

    In the morning when we walked out of the pension and we looked off to the right and lo and behold, what did we see? The Milano Central train station only one city block away.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Nate – Oh man, that is unfortunate. I guess you check the location of everything before you step into a taxi after that incident.

  13. James

    Once I was search for an ATM in a dusty Fijian town, with a supposedly “seasoned” travel buddy. Two big burly locals (who looked like thugs) bounced up all friendly asking our names, with a knife poised to carve each name on some manky wooden tourist tatt. I immediately made an excuse to my own thug who was extremely persistent, glad to think that my seasoned friend behind me would have done the same.

    But when I turned I found he’d not only had his name carved on one, but his mother and brother on two more. I whispered “What are you doing! We have NO money.”

    He replied “Don’t worry, they’re free”.

    Of course we spent the next half hour in the dark scouring the town looking for a means to change money with two huge, dangerous thugs on our tails….

  14. Chris

    We were taking a quick tour through the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City when a nearby American pointed to a gold bust of Ho Chi Minh and asked “Who’s that?”

    I know it wasn’t stupidity on my own part, but it did leave me gobsmacked!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Chris – It is amazing at times that people can travel to a certain region and not know/learn anything about their surroundings.

  15. John

    Just yesterday I managed to miss my connecting train from Villach to Ljubljana. I had over 2 and a half hours to wait for it and still missed it. It was the last train to Ljubljana for the day so was stuck in Villach for the night. Good news is that I made it to Ljubljana bright and early this morning.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey John – Well, luckily Ljubjlana is a great destination so it must have made up for your ‘mistake’ once you finally did arrive I’m sure.

  16. Chai Ruby

    After i read about you eating mangoes with the skin, its remind me of my friend that eating kiwi with the skin also. She said it is high with fibre haha. Maybe the same with mangoes. Well just dont eat pineapple or durian with the skin :p

  17. Steve Hronek

    I spent a few months in Costa Rica several years ago and would go on road trips with people I met. One week we decided to drive down to Panama for a bit. We left in the evening and drove straight through the night. At one point we started wondering where the border was so we stopped at a gas station to ask – and apparently the border isn’t staffed (and wasn’t gated) over night so we had blown straight through without even noticing. We figured there might be trouble if we didn’t do things properly, so we turned around, went back into Costa Rica (again without being stopped), and slept in the car for a couple hours until they opened things up. After bribing a border official of some sort so he wouldn’t pointlessly detain us by searching our car, we made it in “officially.” On a different weekend while driving north, I missed another turn and ended up at the Nicaraguan border. I apparently suck following maps in foreign counties…

  18. Ben

    I love embarassing travel stories! Here’s one of mine.

    I too have had the pleasure of working on a cruise ship. One of the perks, when I was onboard, was that crew could volunteer with any shore excursions where the company needed extra volunteers.

    We were in Civitavecchia, the port town for Rome, Italy. I got asked to help out with a walking tour around Rome lead by a local historian. The tour was a 14 hour excursion which started at 5am. I’m not much of a morning person so I ended up missing the lovely local italian girl who was helping the historian run the show. Looking for a partner to enjoy my lunch with, was when I first noticed her. She was pretty, beautiful, funny, smart .. you know … all that jazz.

    After lunch I decided that for the rest of the day I was going to due my best to stir up the courage to ask her for her phone number. Heck I was going to be in Rome every 2 weeks so why not?

    I remember the afternoon being really hot! I remember filling up my 2 litre water bottle twice. The weather started cooling down by the time we got to the last stop of the day, Vatican City. My last chance to see if I could get some digits. Nothing more romantic than asking a girl for her phone number outside the popes house. I worked myself up to go over and ask her. As I approached she looked at me and said “it’s time to get back on the bus. I need you to count everybody as they get on the bus.”

    I got on the bus, counted the passengers and then sat in my seat, pondering on how I was going to ask her now. 10 minutes in to the bus ride back to Civitavecchia, my bladder reminded me that I drank 4 litres of water! I hadn’t used the restroom since lunch. Opening the bathroom door on the bus revealed nothing. There was no bathroom on this bus!! Perfect, a reason to head to the front and talk to her.

    “Some of the passengers are wondering when the bus will stop for a restroom break. They seemed to have forgotten to go before leaving Vatican City.”

    “There is no scheduled stop, can’t they hold it? it’s only 65 more minutes.”

    Returning to my seat in total disbelief, I realized my kidney were starting to hurt! I had never experienced that type of pressure before. I grabbed my half full water bottle and stared at it for a moment. What else was I to do?

    BTW if you haven’t tried this before it’s harder than it sounds! My first release of urine ended up hitting the rim of the bottle and bouncing straight up into my face. After a few more mishaps like that I gave up on the bottle and started looking for something larger. I found a small garbage can with a bag in it next to the non existent bathroom door. Grabbed the garbage can and pretended to start cleaning out my bag as a few guest were starting to chat with me about what I did on the cruise line. As I spoke … I peed. When they spoke … I peed. When there was silence, I rummaged through my bag humming a tune while peeing. Finally after a couple minutes of this, my bladder was empty and my kidneys relaxed. Which is when the bus pulled over and the girl stood up and said.

    “Anybody who needs to use the restroom, now is the time”

    OMG!! I shamelessly got off the bus taking the garbage bag with me. Emptied it out and pretended to pee. I had nothing left!

    I never asked her for her number. And now can never get on a bus without peeing first!

    1. Dan

      I have tears running down my face. You have made me laugh so hard. You also have inspired me to post as well something that I did so stupid!

    2. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ben – I do agree with you that it is much harder to accomplish the feat of peeing in a bottle than it may appear. I’ve been forced to do that a couple of times and each time it turned into an absolute disaster. Sorry you didn’t get the girl’s number though…at least there are plenty of others on board the ship!

    3. Reeann

      Oh, wow. I never realized there were actually many men out there who have tried doing this. I have heard of my silly friends attempting it while drunk and have always felt very embarrassed for them! This is a hilarious story, thanks for sharing!

  19. Ajay

    Hi Earl! I don’t think eating mango with its skin is dumb..even I like to do the same. It is true many people would take the skin off it …out of sophistication, but mangoes can be eaten with it too.

    I have come from Jaipur to Delhi to work. It is going to be two years now. When I came to Delhi first..I boarded a passenger train mistaking it for one going to Jaipur, my hometown, and after five hours of traveling I was back where I boarded it from. It was one of the dumbest thing I did while traveling. Now I make sure not to make haste while boarding a bus or train.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ajay – It actually wasn’t about eating the skin, it was the fact that I stuck the entire mango completely whole into my mouth, leaving no empty space in my mouth at all.

  20. This American Girl

    Haha, this is amazing. Stupid acts make great stories huh?

    One of mine would have to be when I hitched a ride at 2am with four Panamanian police officers in the back of a Paddy Wagon. They had guns and machetes, but fortunately all they wanted was my phone number.

  21. John

    Just a couple weeks ago I flew into San Francisco. The following day I received a phone call from the airport advising me that they had found my passport. I told them there was obviously a mistake as I was in possession of my passport. Turns out I was wrong, and I had left my passport on the plane.

  22. Bernie

    Somewhat less adventurous, I’m afraid, but I managed to fall down the gap between two single beds made into a king in Madrid. Broke two bones in the back of my hand.

  23. Arjen - On My Way To Freedomland

    When I was in Lombok I wanted to climb the Rinjani volcano. Before that, I was at the Gili Islands and I had bruised my toe on a piece of coral. I could barely walk for a couple of days but I was running out of time and when things started to feel a bit better I decided to make the climb. It was a three day trip and I only had all stars with me which are not ideal for climbing. Of course my toe started to hurt very soon in my shoes and I ended up doing almost the whole climb on my socks. Some rocks can be very sharp 😉 !

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Arjen – That’s another lesson that seems so obvious but that we often ignore until we have to actually deal with it. I guess you survived the hike though!

  24. ourjourneytothesea

    Hahahahahaha oh man this have me a good laugh. Thanks for sharing. I’m madly trying to thing of my own stupid things but am distracted by yours.

    How about sprinting through the airport for a flight that was “gate closing.” Arriving and being upset that you missed it, everyone at the next gate staring at you, and then realising that was the correct gate and the flight had not even started boarding? I walked away for a while and made it look like I had gone to arrange a new ticket. The flights were going to the same place.

    1. Wandering Earl

      @outjourneytothesea: That’s quite a good one as well! And nice coverup at the end…that’s always the key, trying to limit the embarrassment.

  25. Craig

    I arrived for my first visit in Panama City and was staying in Casco Viejo, the not so beautiful part of the city. I was in town less than 30 minutes when I slipped in the rainy street in my sandals and sliced open my toe. I had to walk back to my hotel all the way bleeding like a stuffed pig and stopping along the way to dip my foot into the drainage water in the street because there was so much blood. (very bad idea) I left my footprint for about 5 blocks before entering my lily white hotel with white walls, white doors, and white tile floors. This enhanced the bloodbath and I think scared the front desk clerk more than it did me. Luckily, a short trip to the doctor with stitches and a bill for $55 and I was good to go. and surprise surprise,….no infections 🙂

  26. Rashelle

    Oh my gosh Earl, that’s hilarious but I wasn’t laughing when I read your post but I am now.

    I can’t get over the hot water bucket but the wrong terminal and the outdoor deck I definitely would’ve done!

    Had you never eaten a mango before that incident? As for the rat, I feel for you on that one.


    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Rash – Amazingly I had not eaten a mango before that time. Not sure how it took so long for that to happen. And don’t worry, no rats on the Mexico trip.

  27. Bert Brandon

    I was playing frisbee with my friend in Phuket when my throw made a hard right onto the roof. Didn’t look like the safest roof but my friend said it would be alright. Put some weight on it, didn’t collapse so went for the frisbee, through it back to my friend, then my left leg fell into the roof then my entire body fell about 14 feet into a Thai kitchen, landing on their giant water cooler. They were surprised to see me.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Bert – Um…that is lucky. That surely could have ended much worse. Did they family invite you for dinner?

  28. Wendy

    I’d FINALLY arrived in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, after a very long flight from Washington, DC. I was very tired, but so excited to finally be in Africa, about to take off on a tenting/canoeing safari in Zimbabwe and Zambia. I checked into my hotel and went to my ground-floor room — lovely set-up, including French doors onto the lawn. I almost squealed in delight as I saw a troop of baboons patrolling the lawn. Flinging open the French doors, I went into the bathroom. But what was that commotion in my room?!?!?? I flew out of the bathroom to find the entire troop of baboons raiding the coffee service on the sideboard (who knew male baboons could be so HUGE?). Panicked, I screamed at them to leave. They did, clutching every sugar packet and tea bag from the sideboard. So what did I do after they’d left? First I shut the doors and then I checked to make sure they hadn’t taken off with my passport and travellers’ checks…….

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Wendy – And did they? I’ve heard of stories in South Africa where travelers lose their backpacks/luggage to baboons and their cameras and laptops have been smashed on the ground.

  29. cindy singer

    OK, I got a good one! I was in Belize on Caye Aberguis, in a rather touristy section of town. The restaurant we were eating in was feeding tarpon off the pier and asked if anyone wanted to try. Being the adventurous type, I volunteered. I walked down the plank, got a piece of chum and held on to the rickety rail leaning over to give it to the tarpon. I lost my nerve and just drop the chum in the water. But did I give up? No! I asked for another piece and this time I was determined to hold on to it until the tarpon took it from my fingers. Well, the tarpon didn’t just take the chum, he took my whole hand in up to my wrist! When I pulled my hand away, the tarpon sank his teeth in further. The tail came flapping out of the water while I was shaking my arm to get him off. It finally let go, leaving blood dripping from my arm. To make matters worse, when I went to wash up, the sink was all rusty so I couldn’t clean up properly. That might be the last time I feed the fish.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Stephanie – Now that is amusing. I always wondered if people drop cameras into the food they are often taking photos of. Thank you for answering that.

  30. Wends of Journeys and Travels

    I also got an American friend who came into our city and when we were offered crabs for lunch. Little did I know that we were bordered by an ocean and we have different ways of eating it. We ended up giggling at how hard we have to eat one piece while the hosts has already been eating too much already.

    The airport scene was epic Earl 🙂

  31. Amanda F.

    One of my favorite moments traveling was when my mom, my sister and I went to the Costa Brava in Spain to go to our summer home. We rented a car and even though we live in the States my mom knows how to drive manual cars. So we drive to the apartment and then drive into town for dinner, when we finish and get back in the car, my mom tries to go in reverse but can’t seem to figure how. So we spent a good 15 minutes sitting in the car reading the car manual and trying to figure out how to back up the car from the space, mind you there is a restaurant 5ft in front of us filled with people staring and laughing, because we can’t seem to figure out how to drive the car and almost end up driving onto the sidewalk. Finally we gave up and my sister and I forced our mom to ask a random stranger to help us. Luckily a nice old man helped us out and figured it out in the span of 15 seconds. It was pretty embarrassing and now every time we rent a stick shift car we make sure we know how to go in reverse before we leave the airport.

  32. George

    That bucket shower is brilliant. In Morocco I researched nothing and definitely paid the price for that. I think being stupid is part of travelling.

    1. Amanda Halm

      Ripped a contact lens in Denmark. I could see nothing for two days and my eye twitched like it was on fire.
      My dumb mistake: not taking the time to look for and pack my extra glasses.
      Your rat story was so powerful I almost vomited all over my desk. I love food, but am only adventurous vegetarian.

    2. Wandering Earl

      Hey George – Absolutely! Travel always involves making mistakes, which hopefully we learn from each time.

  33. Christina Gmyr

    I don’t think any story could beat your rat one! I’m cringing at the thought haha

    I’ve had plenty of dumb stories, but my most recent was in a taxi in Brazil. I was on my way to a great Brazilian barbecue restaurant that had been highly recommended by multiple people, including my host who was a local and knew the city well. My taxi driver started ranting about how the restaurant I wanted to go to was an expensive tourist trap and he just HAPPENED to have a pamplet (in English) for a restaurant that he said was wayyy better, and where all the locals eat. I listened to him, only to have one of the worst meals of my life in a restaurant FULL of tourists, that charged way too much for the terribly dry, tasteless, overcooked meat. I should have suspected he was promoting a friend’s business or something, because why else would he have a pamplet in English just sitting in his car.

    I guess it could’ve been worse – he could’ve just dropped me off a Burger King or something!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Christina – It definitely could have been worse but it is amazing how easily influenced we are when we are in a strange place. It becomes very easy to doubt ourselves when a local tries to convince us of something.

  34. Scott

    darn, I saw this story a few days ago and posted mine (knocking myself out in Hungary) and now it’s not here…..(or maybe I forgot to post it?). Anyway I’ll do so later.

  35. Jeff

    There are three major airports near where I live. The first time I flew overseas (trip to London in 2005) I showed up at the airport and wondered why I couldn’t find my airline at the check-in desks. I looked at my flight itinerary and sure enough…I had come to the wrong airport. I had to pay a cab driver a hundred bucks to take me to the correct airport. But luckily I made my flight.

  36. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures

    A rat!?! Eeeeeek! I would never be able to get that taste out of my mouth. 🙁

    My worst was in Cuba. I believe these group of women that they were taking me to see Buena Vista Social Club preform in a secret place, but to be taken there I had to pay them first. Ugh!!!!!!

  37. Hafeez Malik

    Sometime, my mind gets frozen and I behave like a dumb. When I realize my foolishness, there are hardly any remedies. So it loads my heart for many years to come.

    Once I was traveling in Morocco by train to Meknes. On the next seat was a lady health-worker returning home. On knowing that I was just traveling, she said in broken English, “Blessed are those who can afford to travel”. When she came to know that I would be staying at Ibis Moussafir Meknes hotel, she said, “My husband is waiting at the station and we both would ensure that you reach safely to your hotel which is just on our way. If you like you come and see our village next day. Here is my telephone number” This was quite comfortable to me as the hotel was said to be located in an isolated area amidst wild groves of trees.

    When I got down the train, I found my camera and other essentials falling on the ground one by one. It appeared that I had not properly zipped the bag. The lady helped me pick up everything. Later, she introduced me to her husband. They told me that they would get down the taxi in front of my hotel and would continue to the nearby bus station on foot. But I was not listening. My mind was frozen and I was only recalling the fall of camera and small boxes of medicine etc. I do not remember when they hired a taxi on my behalf and when they said, “Here is your hotel”. I was so confused that I did not dare to open my purse. While they were expected me to pay the cabbie, I kept mum. Since it was not a big deal (hardly 3 dollars equivalent) they left me murmuring some words.

    I came to my senses after taking two cups of brewed coffee. Next day, I tried to contact her over the phone but either she was away or angry, she did not attend it personally.

  38. Anni

    “This is how I eat mangoes” hahahah! Great save!

    I always get myself into stupid situations because im so naive/dont think.

    Like the time someone thought i was a prostitute. I was living in Spain and me and my roommates were going out. They went out to buy something and i went to take a shower. The doorbell downstairs rang, i figured that it was my roommate so i just pushed the button to open the door. Than i went out of the shower in a towel and walked over to open the door upstairs. Only to find out that is was not my roommate, but a little old spanish guy with his toolbox. I asked him what he wanted, he said that i would know. I asked him again, then he asked me if i was from russia. And how much i would cost.

    I hate waiting for my suitcase/backpack at the airport. Im always afraid that i will take someone elses luggage. My suitcase came, so i grapped it, but then i saw that it didn’t have my nametag on it. So I started wondering if it was mine or not. While still holding my suitcase and following its route on the carrousel, bumping into people untill my friend called my name. Then i quickly tried to pull it off the carrousel. Only to get my middlefinger stuck between the handle you can take out. It took me 10 minutes to get the handle up and my finger back.

  39. jonny

    I did an all-day volcano hike (starting at 5am) in Guatemala back in January 2011, which completely drained my energy supplies. After an average night’s sleep, I was soon on my way to my next destination. I sat right at the back of a chicken bus for all three hours of my trip from Xela to Lago de Atitlán. Guatemalan roads are bumpy. The worst place in the world to be whilst on a bumpy road is the back of a chicken bus. I had the whole back row to myself because the sensible locals had scrunched up together at the front. Upon arrival, my legs were completely numb, I had lost about 80% of my hearing, I was light-headed and disorientated…I went into the nearest hostel and crashed out for two days straight…that was pretty stupid. Then, when crossing the border back into Mexico, I got into an argument with the Guatemalan guard who was trying to wrongfully charge me. I was right, but he had a gun. Also pretty stupid.

    Stupid mistakes are one of the things that make travelling so worthwhile !! 🙂

  40. Rebekka

    The french ticket man misheard Basil and gave me a ticket to Bordeaux. When I got to the south of France, I was bewildered! It was the wrong place! I was sweating profusely because I would miss my flight back to LA. I had to sleep in the train station and wait for the next train back to Paris….then back to Basil.

    When I got to the airport after a day or so, I had missed my flight, but also needed to wait 12 hours in the airport. I ended up being homeless again and slept in the airport. It was miserable!! I didn’t shower for 5 days.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Rebekka – That’s an adventure and a good reason to write the names of places on a piece of paper before booking something, just to make sure everyone is on the same page!

  41. Steve C

    I don’t think I’d eat a rat but I’ve tried a couple meals in Mexico that, in hind sight, I wish I hadn’t.

    Right after crossing the boarder I thought I’d get right into the local cuisine. I bought a taco from a street vendor that he’d made with the meat from a Hog’s head, which was displayed on his cart. I thought I was going to die that night.

    Then, later on that same trip, we were staying in a coconut grove along the beach. There was a small restaurant at the top of the hill run by the family that owned the camp site. “Mom” had been cooking a special dish all day and it was the meal of the day on the menu. It was iguana stew, made from one of the two foot long lizards that lived on the hill sides all around us. Tasted great, but not for long. Thought I was going to die, take two! And not only that, but staying in a coconut grove is not the smartest thing to do either. While laying in the shade dieing from the iguana stew, I was almost hit with several coconuts, falling from the trees above. They, most certainly, would have finished me off! I still love Mexico.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Steve – I was actually planning on taking my tour group to a brain taco stand here in Playa del Carmen. I’ve never come across iguana stew though and I don’t think I would try it, but that is one of the more interesting dishes I’ve heard about in Mexico.

  42. Jeff | Planet Bell

    I went to the wrong airport in the wrong city. I bought a Ryan Air flight from Hamburg that said Hamburg (Lubeck). I thought Lubeck was the name of the airport, like New York – JFK or something.

    Amazingly, my friend and I made our flight as we arrived to the Hamburg airport 3 hours early. We felt pretty stupid. But at least I didn’t eat a rat 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Jeff – Very lucky you were. Seems like several others who have commented with similar ‘moments’ were not as lucky at all.

  43. Simplify Adam

    You’ve definitely got me beat with these stories. I can relate to the last one about showering with hot water though:

    While I was in mexico, having a hot shower meant heating up a rock in the fire and putting it in our container of water to heat it up. Let’s just say the water got a little hotter than I was planning!

  44. Kerry @ Planes, Trains and Plantagenets

    Oh my god, I can’t with the rat!

    I’ve managed to escape too many dumb things so far (knock on wood) – the most spectacular travel failure I’ve had is when I booked an overnight coach from Edinburgh to London. My thoughts went something like:

    1. It’s hard to sleep on buses
    2. Drinking will help me sleep
    3. I should spend all evening getting hammered before I get on the 11:30pm bus.

    I promptly locked myself in the tiny toilet on the bus and spent a few hours being sick all over it, much to the thrills of the other passengers I’m sure.

    It got better when there was a fault in the bus we were on, and we had to change buses in the middle of the night. Which I almost missed, because I was half passed out in the toilet. The driver had to knock on the door and then I got to board the second bus with all the other passengers avoiding eye contact (or looking sympathetically at me, which is much worse).

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Kay – I actually didn’t eat it like an apple. I stuck the entire mango inside of my mouth, basically forced to suck on the whole thing. My cheeks were puffed out and I could barely speak, with saliva dripping down the sides of my mouth because there was no room inside!

        1. Janet Wehrer

          When I first started reading the mango incident, I thought it was going to be about how you got something akin to Montezuma’s revenge, because you ate unwashed/unpeeled fruit.

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