How NOT to Travel: Learn from our Mistakes

How NOT to Travel: Learn from our Mistakes

When I was doing triathlons, I was terrified of the bike. I suppose I should say, I still am. It’s probably the main reason I stick to running these days. The worst part of about serious cycling is that you clip you shoes to the pedals. This is a recipe for disaster, because any time you need to get off the bike real quick, you have to remember to unclip your shoes first. If not, you just slowly fall over to the ground, still fully connected to the good ole bike.

I’ll be the first to admit that my natural instincts and grace are rather lacking. So you shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that I had more than my fair share of falling over because I forgot to unclip. I’ve done it in our front yard, on a ride with a bunch of serious cyclists, and—the worst – at a stop light with tons of cars around onto very hot, bubbling asphalt. Luckily my husband was there to pick me back up (aka laugh at me).

Unfortunately, mistakes are a major part of learning. Michael Jordan agrees with me…do we all remember the motivational poster hanging in every high school across America where MJ reminds us that his success came after countless missed shots and lost games?



So, like Mike and I were saying, you’re going to make mistakes along the way. Today, we’re going to do a little walk down memory lane as I recap several of our not so impressive travel moves. Learn from our mistakes, my friends.

How NOT to Travel: Learn from our Mistakes

Getting a Super Cheap Airbnb

When we went to Quebec City over Christmas, we wanted something that would feel homey and where we could cook some meals, so an Airbnb seemed perfect. Our options were pretty limited because we decided to go at the last minute, so I was pumped when I found a room with a kitchen and private bath that was super cheap (like $40 a night cheap) in the heart of Old Quebec City. Ding ding ding we have a winner!

Or so I thought. The place turned out to be disgusting and dirty, including sheets with hairs all over them. No. Just no.

Lesson Learned: Very rarely is something that seems too good to be true actually good. Especially when you’re dealing with Airbnb.

Intentionally Planning a 7 Hour Layover at JFK

When we flew to Iceland from Indianapolis, we found a ticket that was a bit cheaper but included a 6 hour layover at JFK in New York. At the time I’d never been to NYC, so I felt like I was getting a chance to see the city for free.

Did you know that JFK is far away from Manhattan? I sure didn’t. It took us about an hour of travel each way just to get to the city. Plus, the airline wouldn’t keep our luggage, since we had such a long layover between flights. So first we had to collect our bags from baggage claim, then pay to leave them with a service at the airport. All things considered, we had time to walk around for about 2 hours. While I enjoyed those 2 hours, I’m not sure it was worth all the hassle. And the fees we paid for storing our bags and taking the subway made our cheaper tickets not so cheap anymore.

Rockefeller Center--one of the few things we saw in our 2 hours in NYC
Rockefeller Center–one of the few things we saw in our 2 hours in NYC

Lesson Learned: Leaving the airport on a layover isn’t always easy or doable. Read up on it before booking the long layover.

Second Lesson Learned: Look at those cute shoes I’m wearing in the above picture. I somehow returned from Iceland with only one of them. Heartbreaking. Count your shoes before leaving a country.

Not Taking Advantage of Day/Weekend Trips

We’ve lived in 4 states in the past 4 years. While parts of that are tiring and a big hassle (like packing. And unpacking. Ugh), we’ve loved being able to explore different parts of the country. However, we didn’t always take advantage of exploring the areas that were actually near where we lived – until we moved to New York, that is. Just because something is close to you doesn’t mean it’s not worth seeing! You never know how long you’ll have easy access to those places (especially if you move like we do).

View from Mt Jo in the Adirondacks
Enjoying blue skies and fantastic views on a weekend trip in New York.

Lesson Learned: Make weekend trips to places close by a priority. Find those hidden gems nearby, pack up your car, and take a weekend vacay!

Running from the Hotel

Kyle and I run a good bit of miles most days that we travel. Running is a fantastic way to explore a new area because you often stumble into places you’d never normally visit. Unfortunately, on our honeymoon in California, we only drove off to an ocean-side trail once. The rest of the time we just ran the same roads from our hotel over and over again. Boooooring! There were so many trails and routes we should have explored.

Running and loving every moment in Napa Valley, California
Running is even more fun in beautiful places! Glad I found this route in Napa Valley.

Lesson Learned: Don’t be lazy! Take the time to find fun routes to run and go run them.

Not Packing for the Appropriate Weather

When visiting Colorado in July, we spent half our trip in Bolder/Colorado Springs and the other half camping in the mountains. Now I grew up camping in the Rockies a good bit, so I knew that it would be much cooler up in the higher altitude of the mountains and packed appropriate clothes. I didn’t pay any attention to what Kyle had packed until we were hanging out by the fire at our campsite the first night. As things cooled down, I started throwing on layers to warm up while Kyle was in jeans and a short sleeve. Poor guy had nothing!

Luckily we were able to buy him some warmer clothes the next day – but not until after he froze all night long.

Lesson Learned: Weather isn’t always what you think it will be. Do some research ahead of time – and keep an eye out for what your spouse is packing.

Hopefully I’ve spared you a bit of travel pain. What lessons have you learned throughout your travels? 

Also check out: How to Travel on a Budget


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