Every traveler makes mistakes. They are rites of passage that even seasoned travelers can never entirely avoid– whether it’s missing a flight or eating a regrettable roadside meal or wandering around lost for hours. If you have the right attitude though, mistakes are part of what keeps traveling interesting and exciting. As Thomas Edison, ever the optimist, once observed: “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 things that will not work.”
That’s why I feel no shame in recalling my greatest travel mistakes, culled from an impressive and ever-growing list. First place goes to the time I was in Ecuador and lost my passport– the veritable cardinal sin of traveling. Thankfully, despite some bureacratic hassle, I got a new one after spending a few weeks in Quito, where I earned about a thousand dollars playing poker at the casino. That’s money I never would have made if I wouldn’t have lost my passport. Thanks, my stupidity!
Some mistakes on the road are more embarrassing than anything else. For instance, after living in Prague for a few months, I thought I had a pretty good idea of the layout of the metro stops. One day I was riding on the the metro with some friends, and we came to the “Muzeum” stop. The doors opened, and an elderly man standing on the platform asked me, in Czech, “Is this Muzeum?” “No,” I told him confidently, in front of dozens of people. “This is M?stek.” He appeared confused, and gave me a look as if to say, “Are you sure?” “Yes,” I said. “To je M?stek.” The doors closed, and the metro sped off, while my fellow passengers looked at me like the idiot I was. I like to assume that old man eventually figured out where he was, but really, who the hell knows.
Of course, these aren’t the only mistakes I’ve made. I’ve missed transatlantic flights, left doors unlocked and had my laptop and mp3 player stolen, been swindled out of money by street husslers, and done scores of other stupid and otherwise inexcusable things that probably should have ruined my trip.
But they never have. It’s a testament to the power of travel that no matter what happens on the road, I’d still rather be there than anywhere else.
Okay, I’ve shared my biggest traveling blunders; now it’s your turn. Got a good story? Feel free to share it in the comments.