Traveling Fails and How to Deal With Them

I spent a month and a half this summer backpacking around Europe with my best friends and we definitely had a lot of failures and embarrassing moments along the way that we had to deal with. I thought I would share these failures with you for some comic relief and to give you tips on how to get through difficult, embarrassing and unexpected situations when you are traveling.

A lot of our mishaps occurred with transportation, some of them were due to our ignorance, and others were completely out of our control.

After spending about a week in Greece, we took a ferry from Athens to Bari, Italy. We made it to the port and on the ferry without any problems. We got all set up and then set our alarms to wake up after 9 hours. We woke up at 4 am to pack up our belongings and get ready to get off the ferry. It was weird to us that everyone was still asleep so we went and asked someone just to make sure. It turns out that the ferry journey was actually 17 hours long and we still had another brutal 8 hours left. We were fools for not knowing that and had to spend the rest of the night and day on the ferry. This was at the beginning of our trip and it taught us to be more aware of what we are doing and to actually read the small print before buying tickets.

When we were in Cinque Terre, we took the train to each town along the coast. One day, we decided to use our Eurail passes so that we could travel between each of the towns as much as we wanted. We got onto the train and didn’t fill out our passes with all of the information for the train journey. Next thing we know, the ticket conductor came around. We were still filling out our passes and he just starts yelling at us in Italian. The only word he said in English was, “Penalty,” and he just kept repeating this, pointing at each of us as he did. “Penalty! Penalty! Penalty!” We had no idea what to do and he didn’t speak English. He then hands us a ticket for 50 euros and held out his other hand waiting for the money. We were so confused and frustrated but begrudgingly handed over the money because he wouldn’t leave and he couldn’t even hear out our explanation. This just taught us to always write in our train journeys on our Eurail passes before getting on the trains so that we would never get a “Penalty!” ever again.

Our next trouble with transportation occurred when we were in Sorrento, Italy. We were staying in a town just a short bus ride outside of Sorrento (another tip when traveling that can save you a lot of money). We came back from the beach in Positano where we had spent the entire day, to discover that the last bus back to our town had already left. We were in our bikinis and towels and it was 11:30pm. We then had to walk two miles back in the dark in our bikinis. After that, we never missed another bus again. We always checked the time tables and would sprint to every bus or train in order to avoid missing it.

Our luck with transportation hit an all time low when we were on a train from Nice, France to Barcelona, Spain. Our train got struck by lightning. Yes… I know it sounds like stuff like this only happens in movies but, this isn’t a joke and we were stuck on the train in the same spot for four hours. We were then told to switch onto another train that didn’t move for another hour. We finally were on our way but, by that time we had missed our connecting train to Barcelona. The train company gave us a free night in hotel with a huge buffet breakfast in the morning. Even though we didn’t make it to Barcelona that night, we learned that everything happens for a reason and that even if everything possible goes wrong, you have to always keep a positive attitude because bad situations will work out in the end.

Our last failure is unrelated to transportation and is not one of our finer moments. When we stayed outside Sorrento, Italy, we rented an AirBnB because it was way cheaper than any of the hostels in the area. This AirBnB had a washing machine and we were so excited about it because we hadn’t properly washed our clothes in about two to three weeks. One morning we woke up early to put in our laundry before going out for the day. We had two loads to do so while we were waiting for the first load we made breakfast and got our backpacks organized for the day. It had been over an hour though, and the washing machine was still going. Everything on it was in Italian and we couldn’t figure out how much longer we were going to have to wait. So we decided that we were going to just take out our stuff. This turned out to be an incredibly poor decision. We pressed a button that looked like pause and opened the door. All of a sudden, water started pouring out of the machine all over the bathroom floor. I quickly shut the door and we burst out laughing as we stood in a huge puddle of water. We got some towels and then opened the door again and just let the water flow out. We then rung out each piece of our drenched clothing and hung it up to dry. We then had to get cups and scoop the water out of the bottom of the washing machine and into the sink in order to drain the rest of the water. Pro tip that I learned from this experience, never, ever, open a washing machine before it is done.

I think one of the biggest takeaways from this trip for me was to always be aware and keep a positive mindset. When traveling you are always bound to encounter problems and make some poor decisions but, if you are able to stay positive and not get frustrated, then you can always look back at your failures and find them to be some of the funniest moments of your trip.

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