One of the reasons for this blog is for us to share our adventures with others and to help them learn from our mistakes. And to offer you a good laugh here and there. Travel is not always blissfully easy. Sometimes it can actually be a lot of work.
Thinking back on all of our travels, there are many screw ups that we definitely could have lived without. Avoiding these things could have saved us some time, money, pain, stress, marital spats and work. Thankfully we can laugh about these experiences now and they make for a good story. But save yourself the stress and just DON’T DO IT!
In chronological order, since we have started travelling as a couple, here are some of the blunders we have found ourselves in.
1. Getting majorly sunburned on a cruise ship
The company that Eben worked for at the time gave us this free cruise trip as one of his incentives. Going from Canada to the caribbean left our pasty skin in need of some Vitamin D. Unfortunately I spent a little too much time in a bikini slurping down pina coladas and not enough time reapplying sunscreen, and my rear end paid the price. I had a hard time sitting on my extremely red tush for the rest of the trip.
2. Not reading parking signs in Minneapolis
We were all excited about going to the bar with a bunch of friends that we didn’t pay much attention to the “no parking or you will be towed” sign that was right in front of our vehicle. 5 hours later when we exited the bar, with several drinks in our belly, the groups DD realized that the DD vehicle was nowhere to be found. This meant 2 hours of sitting on a curb while a few designated people went to retrieve the car. That’s one way to sober up, in the not so warm streets of Minneapolis.
3. Not getting out of tube when it says rapids ahead Apple river
We spent a lazy 3 hours floating down the Apple river with a group of coworkers/friends. At the end there was an extremely large sign on the edge of the river advising that you should get off of your tube and walk the next section. We figured that this was just to cover their own asses against law suits, and the river had been so calm that some “little rapids” probably weren’t that big and count liven things up. They were much bigger than we expected. Nothing deadly, but we did end up with a friend with busted open knee, requiring some stitches, lots of scrapes on several others, and I lost my favorite hat and Eben lost his tshirt. Apple river taught us a lesson.
4. Not checking the hooks on the travel hammock
We got this awesome 2 person parachute hammock as a gift from Eben’s brother that we were all excited to try out. On a roadtrip across the northern states we arrived a bit early to this town where we had booked a white water rafting trip. It was only 3am but we couldn’t bring ourselves to pay for a hotel room that we would only spend a couple of hours in. This was the perfect opportunity to try out our gift. We set it up, got a pile of blankets out, first Eben got in, and then I did. We went very slowly, because you can never trust a hammock, but all went fine. For 2 minutes, and then BOOM, one of the S hooks snapped and Eben and I went tumbling down onto the rocky ground below. Eben was left with a bruised back, where as I had a cushy landing, on top of him.
5. Not taking altitude into account for backcountry camping
We love camping, backcountry camping, where half of the adventure is the hike in. We set off for 3 days up in the woods near Jasper. We had tents, gear, food, clothes, and fishing rods. We stopped by the park services before heading out on the hike, to buy our fishing license, so that we could legally fish and feed ourselves for our time up there. I don’t know why they didn’t give us the heads up. They were more than happy to take our money. We hike 11kms to reach our site, only to discover that the lake, where we had planned to get our main source of food, was frozen over. October, in the Canadian mountains, why didn’t we think of that. We subsisted on a lot of starches instead, potatos, noodles, etc.
|It was so cold we built two campfires so we wouldn’t have to keep spinning like rotisserie chickens!|
6. Forgetting bug spray in Honduras bungalow
You know when you decide “let’s splurge” and you get yourself the nice little beach bungalow rather than the cheap hotel room a few streets off the beaten path. Yes we decided to do this while we spent Christmas in Honduras. We figured we would have this beautiful veranda to celebrate on, unwrapping our Christmas gifts with the sound of the ocean lapping in the background. Instead what we go was attacked by sand flies. The no-see’ems were insanely ferocious. We didn’t stay on that veranda for more than 5 minutes before having to run inside our musty bungalow for salvation. Bug spray would have been a nice Christmas present on that day.
|Taken in the brief moment that we spent outside.|
7. Chicken Bus ride from Guatemala to Mexico
I had done my fair share of backpacking central america, so when Eben and I got to go together, on our 2 month honeymoon, I was excited to show him all the must-do’s. One of those being Riding On A Chicken bus. We were doing a lot of backpacking and one of our longest legs was the trip between Guatemala and Mexico. We hoped aboard a chicken bus that ran that route and spent the next 12 hours bouncing uncomfortably along really bad roads. Looking back on it, the idea of experiencing a chicken bus was good, but we could have done it on a shorter trip, and spent the extra $60 to have flown between the two countries in only 45minutes. I am still living that one down!
8. Drinking an eiffel tower in Las Vegas
When in Vegas! Everyone is walking around drinking all sorts of enormous and oddly shaped drinks. You can get them in any form, but they are all the same size…HUGE. We figured, why not!? After you manage to drink this massive alcoholic slurpie (which you must do at a slower pace to avoid brain freeze, but fast enough that it doesn’t melt) you first get a real sugar rush, and then you crash (from the sugar and cheap alcohol they used). We split one, walked from the middle of the strip back to our hotel, and passed out for 3 hours! Those hours were lost to us, and when you are only in Vegas for a few days, every hour counts.
9. Hiking a moderate trail while pregnant
Again we decided to go on a nice backcountry camping trip, before Arias arrived into our lives. I was 5 months pregnant, and from the advise of a friend, we set off on this MODERATE trail to a secluded spot. I wasn’t huge yet, but that hike was nowhere near moderate and my pregnant body struggled to make it up the extremely steep trail. Eben ended up having to do double the trail. He would run ahead, drop his backpack off, run back and take mine so that I could hike free of gear. He would stay with me until we reached his backpack again and then he set off on the next leg of his run. He did this the entire length of the trail. As we reached the top (which we didn’t know our camping spot was only about 50feet away) Eben’s legs seized up and he was on the ground crying in pain. With lots of massaging and drinking water, he limped his way into our camp.
10. Breaking an arm on the first day in a new country
We were all excited to sail in to Dominican Republic. We had been three days at sea, sailing from the Bahamas straight to the DR. We couldn’t wait to get off the boat, on to dry land, and explore this new country. That was all thwarted when baby Ellia rolled off the bed and fractured her shoulder in two spots. This kid had managed three days in the wavy ocean without getting hurt, and the moment we are moored in the flatest of flat bays, she does this! So instead of drinking beer and going on discovery hikes, we spent our first day in the DR figuring out rides to the hospital and how the medical system works.
|Look at that face. She was so off balance for the two weeks they had her wrapped like this.|
11. Sleeping in a Love Motel in Punta Cana
In the Dominican Republic you will frequently pass “Cabanas” on the side of the road. These are love motels. Drive ins. You can drive your car right into a garage, where you pay through a slot in the wall, have access to a room, and then can drive away. It is all very private. We knew about these, went to see one, just to see, but never slept in one. When we were living in the DR we drove the many hours from Puerto Plata to Punta Cana where my uncle was having a destination wedding. Our plan had been to stop at a hotel along the way to sleep, but the girls had passed out in the car and we thought it would be wiser for us to do the bulk of our driving while they slept. So we pushed on, which meant we arrived in Punta Cana in the wee hours of the morning. We checked with our all-inclusive where we were booked for 7 nights, starting the upcoming day. But they would not let us check in that early, and wanted to charge us a crazy amount for the night’s stay. We thought we would drive around and find ourselves something cheaper. The valet suggested this one hotel, so we went and found it, only to realize that it was a Cabana. We couldn’t do it, not with the kids. So we kept driving until we found a “motel”. We checked in, got up to our room, and as we were pushing the beds together we found the remnants of someone’s “love session” on the floor. But we were already checked in, so decided “whatever”. We spent the rest of the night serenaded by some neighbours love song! Not the most appropriate family hotel!
12. Having your car blow up in the mountains of DR with no warm clothes
We were on an extended roadtrip with the girls, going to discover all that the Dominican Republic had to offer. We had bought ourselves a local car instead of paying for rentals. The car had served us well. Taking us from North coast to South coast. But when we tried to bring it up into the mountains of Constanza, it was not pleased with us. As we tried to go up one of the roads, the engine went BOOM. (We found out later it was all due to an old radiator.) Anywhere else this would have been fine, but what was meant to be a “drive through” experience of the town, ended up having us stuck there for 5 days, with only tropical clothing in our packs. It gets cold up there, really cold and wet. All we could do while we waited for our car to be fixed is layer all of the clothing we had brought and had wash them daily in the hotel sink.
Everyone has heard the stories of ciguatera, and all the wives tails on how to tell if a fish is infected, but not many get to experience this horrible toxin. Well we did, as did our kids, and our 2 guests that were onboard. They had caught a fish which we struggled to identify (clue number one you should not eat it) but we knew it was in the Jack family, which are safe to eat in most places. We ate it, and 6 hours later we had a boat full of people exploding from both ends and not enough toilets and buckets for us all. Our boat was a disgusting mess, and we were all in extreme pain. Ellia and our guest Edric ended up at the Culebra hospital on IVs. We were months dealign with the lingering symptoms of the toxin, which we will cary in us forever.
14. Have your whole family sea sick on a three day sail
We live on a sailboat but that doesn’t mean that we are immune to the swaying of the ocean. I had never been seasick in 4 years of sailing, until we crossed the Mona Passage. This passage is known for being treacherous. And it was. Not in a scary-horrible-waves kind of way. In a three-day-constant-roll kind of way. On this three day crossing our entire family took turns at using the “puke bucket”. The worst time being when both Eben and I were simultaneously throwing up while the girls sat and watched, slightly horrified.
15. Misjudging the strength of the Foxy’s painkiller
It’s not called a painkiller for nothing. This Virgin Islands drink is famous. That is what it does as you are drinking them, it numbs you and kills the pain. But they are also extremely strong. I learned the hard way that a combination of no supper and three painkillers is my threshold. I found myself sitting in the women’s restroom of Foxy’s, unable to use my legs. Eben came to my rescue, dinghied me back to the boat, where I spent the rest of the night sleeping in the cockpit. And may I add that being hungover on a sailboat (which is constantly moving) is its own kind of nightmare!
16. Sleeping in a brothel in India
For safety reasons, when doing the Rickshaw Run, they advise that you not drive after nightfall. This makes sense because people are crazy drivers there, and trucks drive with their high beams on at night, which are just at your eye level when you are in a measly little rickshaw. But this also meant that if we had any sort of delay or rickshaw issue in the day, which we always did, then our nightfall destinations were never the ones we had planned for. One night we ended up in this truck-stop town when it got real dark. Our friend Suk when searching for a hotel room for us, and the only one he could find said “they didn’t recommend a white woman sleep there”. But it was our only option. The room was not so clean but we had turkish towels that we could sleep on, so we didn’t care. It wasn’t until we were checking out the next morning that we found out that the place is actually a brothel!
|Thank goodness for clean turkish towels.|
So 16 things that we could have lived without. Over 7 years of travelling as a couple that isn’t too bad! But even with all of this experience in our back pockets, we still trip up and cause ourselves some headache. 3 weeks ago we made a totally newbie mistake, and shook our heads at ourselves afterwards…
17. Being extra kind to your cab driver and paying for the return trip in advance
Our friend put us in touch with a cabby that he trusts and thought that this guy could help us out a lot while we house sit in Stone Town, Tanzania. The cabby speaks really good english, answered many of our questions, and was extremely reasonable with his taxi fare. We had him drop us off in town so we could go explore for a bit with the girls, and told him that we would call him later that evening when we needed a ride home. Eben didn’t have any small change so he paid the driver for the return trip home in advance. It wasn’t until 7:30pm, after we had finished our dinner, the girls were exhausted, it was starting to get dark, and the cabby’s cell phone was not answering. We left him several messages and wondered what to do. We kicked ourselves for being so generous. Luckily 45 minutes later we got ahold of him and he came to get us. His phone had died. But still, travel newbie mistake.
We continue to live and learn!