Travel long enough (or maybe one trip is all it takes!) and you’ll inevitably find that you develop a handful of pet peeves that are an almost universal experience for all travelers. If you have one that’s not listed here that really gets to you (or you know a solution to one of these peeves!) share it in the comments below!
- Bringing the wrong adaptor / forgetting to buy one at the airport
How can something so huge be so easily forgotten? Even if you’ve been to a country a dozen times before, this small but important detail might slip your mind… and you’re stuck buying an overpriced one in the airport. But if you’re going to a third world country there’s a chance your airport might not have one and you might just be out of luck if you’re going immediately to a city that’s off the beaten track.
In my latest trip to Chefchaouen, Morocco I was only able to find one through sheer luck when I saw it in the window of a junk shop.
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- How to get to your hotel from the airport
If you’re visiting a more prosperous country and the language barrier isn’t too bad, getting to your accommodation from the airport is a breeze. But if you’re in a country where you can’t speak the language at all, nor properly say any of its words, ensuring you get to the right place can be difficult unless you have 1) the name of the hotel already written down and 2) the hotel’s phone number, for when the driver invariably gets lost. But the situation is so much worse if you’re trying to use public transportation.. especially if they don’t announce stops clearly and you’re forced to try and guess by staring intently at each stop and painfully communicating with other passengers around you.
- Taxi Scams
If you’ve been to a third world country, chances are you’ve met the “enterprising” drivers who immediately come at you the moment you pass through the safety of the airport doors, grab your bags, and tell you to follow them to their taxi… which looks a bit different from the others.
For those who hate confrontation, this is a nightmare. But it’s so much worse if you actually get into a taxi (legitimate or not) and they try to work their scamming magic. The most common ploy is to fail to turn on the meter, or tell you it’s broken if they ask. But sometimes they’ll drive you around for ages (much longer than your google-guestimate lead you to believe it would take to get to your hotel). Or when they refuse to take you to your hotel and threaten to dump you on the side of the road if you don’t pay more. In cases like this, being able to communicate is so important, leading me to…
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- Cellphones & Communication
The bane of every budget-travelers existence. Opening your cellphone up to international charges is painful, but so is getting a cellphone that works in the country you’re visiting.
But not only is it sometimes a necessity, it’s one of the easiest ways to communicate with traveling companions. Otherwise you’re wholly dependent on facebook and carrier pigeons, and considering the availability of wifi in some countries, pigeons might be more reliable…
What traveler doesn’t wish there was a miracle remedy for jet lag? I don’t know anyone who hasn’t tried a few random methods to try and cure it: there’s going out immediately to try and “adjust” yourself to the time zone, doing an all day spa, doing interval naps, forcing yourself to stay awake until you’re so exhausted you know you’ll sleep through the night…
Jetlag can put a massive damper on your trip if you’re not careful. For some people it totally destroys the first day or two of a trip, but for others it might be an issue for three or four days. Hard to enjoy yourself when you’re constantly yawning during your excursions but wide awake once you’re in bed!
- Stomach Adjustment
Ah, what traveler doesn’t have a handful of pills at their easy disposable? Particularly imodium. It’s a necessity if you’re traveling to a country whose food profile is significantly (or even not so significantly…) different from yours, or you fear that the water might not agree with you. While it doesn’t happen to everyone in every country, travel around long enough and it will eventually happen… and you better be prepared.
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- Getting Desperately Lost on a Tight Schedule
On the topic of excursions, some countries are easier to get around than others. I adore it when city planners make their cities these perfectly navigable blocks, so there’s really no getting lost. And when I can’t have that, I appreciate road signs! But some countries have neither, and if you’re doing the solo or budget route you’re stuck wandering the roads trying to find the sight, knowing it’s somewhere close by but somehow just out of reach…
Still, getting lost can be a great experience. It can help you find beautiful sights, or meet wonderful people, and open the world up a bit more. But if you’re on a tight schedule getting lost can mean losing half the day to aimless wandering or missing something that you really wanted to see.
- Lay Overs That are Too Short / Too Long
There are two types of lay overs that are okay in any international traveler’s book: layovers that are perfectly timed to get you through customs or security and to the gate of your next flight, and layovers that are long enough to let you step out and enjoy the city for the day / night.
Anything else is a terrible exercise in boredom, bad coffee, and fighting for the ever elusive electrical socket.
Especially if you’re going solo, or using public transportation at any juncture, overpacking can be the bane of your existence. How are you supposed to get two massive suit cases and a carry on anywhere on your own? We’ve all made this mistake at one point. Or, even if you’re backpacking, and you’ve found that your too-heavy-pack is filled to the brim with things you thought you might need but proved to be totally irrelevant, and now your shoulders are burning…
- Under packing
I’ve gotten cocky over the years. I’ve gone from totting around two massive suitcases to a backpack for any and all trips. But the pride of traveling light is rarely worth it unless you know you’re solo’ing or going off the beaten path. This year, for example, I brought a treasure trove worth of fantastic things from Morocco and I had to buy a suit case to haul it all back home. But even worse than that is being woefully underprepared for a situation and knowing that you can’t easily get what you need in the country you’re visiting.
Somewhere between packing ultra-light and over-much there’s a perfect middle ground. It’s an art form!
- Drunk Obnoxious Travelers (especially from your country)
There is nothing so embarrassing as seeing a gang of drunk travelers making a scene and drawing the rolling eyes and disapproving stares of locals. It’s so easily forgotten, but you are a guest to this country, and to this city. So act like it! Be courteous, respectful, and appreciative. A ticket and a visa does not mean that you’ve got a free pass to treat a locale like your personal playground.