Travel is a beautiful thing. It’s essential for recharging our souls and gaining insight and perspective from our daily lives – blah, blah, blah. Since you’re reading this, we’re willing to bet you’re well aware of the benefits traveling provides. With it, however, come many unfortunately common incidents that often leave us pulling our hair out. Here are 7 of the most frustrating travel experiences that drive us b-a-n-a-n-a-s.
Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Read the full disclosure policy here.
Forgetting Something Important
We’re starting things off mild. You’ve done it, and we certainly have. The frustrating moment you realize you’ve forgotten to pack an essential item far too late is probably a rite of passage for anyone who’s ever traveled before. That initial sinking feeling in your gut followed immediately by a tinge of panic as you frantically figure out how you’re going to replace said item. It ends dejectedly as you pay triple the price for your tube of sunblock – painfully aware your bottle of SPF 9000 sits on your kitchen counter back home. Unlike the other entries on our list, you’ve done this to yourself. Recognition of this fact makes it hurt just that much more.
It never fails. As you sit at your gate, eagerly checking your boarding pass for the tenth time in anticipation, the ticket agent makes the first announcement that your flight will begin boarding momentarily. At that signal, every moron who you’ll be sharing the same air with for the next several hours begins to form a line before First-Class has even been called up to board the plane. Over the next several minutes you become witness to the breakdown of social order as these barbarians try to force their way onto the plane while simultaneously blocking the way for people who have actually been called forth by the ticket agent. You wonder in astonishment why these people need to be the first ones on the plane when you’ll all be arriving at your destination AT THE SAME GODDAMN TIME!
…Or the dip-blank who’s trying to shove his kayak into the overhead bin.
Other travelers can sometimes be insufferable. We cringe when they ignore signs, take without asking, think that the rules don’t apply to them, or treat every destination as if it’s a weekend bender in Las Vegas. Watching these people ignore basic etiquette and decency for their fellow man could pass as a sport in some places. Having to deal with other rude travelers feels like an unnecessary kick in the teeth – especially when you consider that these people have had to deal with the same frustrating process as you, and should, therefore, be much more empathetic towards their fellow passengers. This is the kind of person who would cut you off in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The kind of person you daydream about doing unspeakable things to. Maybe it’s a good thing weapons aren’t allowed past security – for their sake.
While most people find the cost of travel frustrating, we don’t; it costs what it costs, and that’s not going to deter us from traveling to amazing places. For us, time is the most precious resource when traveling because it’s the one thing you can’t get back. So we’re constantly concerned with delays since they’re nearly impossible to plan for or avoid. Flights, rental car issues, hotel check-ins – they all have the potential to ruin a well-planned day.
Your best option is to never over-plan each day of your trip and to try and “predict” the parts of your trip that have the potential to be delayed. Try not to plan much for your first day so you have time to arrive and get settled in. If something does happen, just do your best to shrug it off and adopt an attitude that allows you to still have an amazing time. After all, it’s in the spontaneous moments we often find our best travel stories.
Jet lag is a bit of a misnomer. While most people tend to only associate it with flying, we’ve found that any type of traveling can really leave you zapped of energy. Flying, road trips, hiking: they can all leave you with the same effects of jet lag. We already mentioned above how important time management is when traveling, so feeling lethargic and unmotivated while at a destination is incredibly frustrating.
For this reason, we’ve started leaving about two full days after returning from a significant trip before going back to work. We’ve also started taking No Jet Lag, a tiny pill you take every few hours of travel. It’s improved our post-trip recovery when we’ve taken it. Perhaps it’s just a placebo – we don’t know for sure, but we plan to continue taking it for future travel. We also recommend adjusting your sleep schedule to your destination’s time zone as quickly as possible at the outset of your trip.
There are countless other suggestions for overcoming jet lag online – too many to list here.
In 2011, we took an expensive two-week vacation on The Big Island of Hawaii with Megan’s Mother and Step-Father. One of the highlights of the trip was to spend one of those weeks exploring the pristine beaches along the island’s west side.
The morning after arriving in Kailua-Kona, however, we awoke to ten-foot waves crashing up on the beaches. A typhoon off the coast of New Zealand had sent waves 3,000 miles across the Pacific to hit the west coast of The Big Island. These conditions remained for the duration of our trip. But had we even managed to get in the water, the sand churned up from current meant visibility was nonexistent.
To make matters even more comical, we had spent months leading up to our trip assuring Megan’s Mother that the waters off the west coast were among the calmest and clearest because there are fewer waves there.
Rained out camping trips, a blizzard in July, sweltering heat in December – The frustrating unpredictability of the weather can really dampen the mood when it starts to negatively affect your well-made plans. No matter how much research you do on typical weather conditions for when you’re going, there’s really no way to foolproof your vacation from a freak storm. Couple that with the immense expense of traveling and you may wonder why you even bothered to leave home in the first place.
Traveling across the world has never been as accessible as it is today thanks to modern technology. The internet and smartphones have made it incredibly easy to tailor your trip and travel confidently – even if you don’t know the language. So we’re not at all embarrassed to admit we’re fully addicted to our smartphones when we travel. You can do seemingly anything with them. Everybody has them.
So why is the process of obtaining DATA for your smartphone while abroad still such a frustrating pain in the ass? Sure, your wireless provider probably has an international plan, but the daily fees can be astronomical by the end of your trip. And if they have an “unlimited international data plan” it’s usually from smaller companies with shoddy reception who are trying to compete with the major carriers. Even if you have the perfect cellular company where you live that is still great for travel, the rest of us don’t. And the fact of the matter is we shouldn’t have to switch carriers every time we want to travel outside of the country.
Your only resource left is to try and purchase a SIM card from another company after you arrive. At best, it can be an awkwardly difficult experience when your shit at the local language. Or in the case of when we visited Germany, a total failure as the SIM cards we purchased never ended up working, and wasted over two hours of our time.
Perhaps asking for an inexpensive international data plan is too much to ask for frequent travelers. Perhaps, like the Flying Car, we’ll be sitting around for decades to come – wondering why this elusive technology has still never come to fruition.
What’s that noxious concoction of emotions stirred from deep within you when a telemarketer calls for the millionth time? Or the doorbell rings in the middle of your favorite show and it turns out to be some jack-wagon trying to sell you something – intruding in your domain – your sanctuary? Junk mail, spam emails, advertisements on your feed and before the video will play – we’re constantly bombarded by this crap from the moment we wake up. It’s frustrating. We need a break.
There exists a phenomenon that occurs whenever any destination experiences even a moderate amount of tourism, and it drives us nuts. Tourist traps: places that once existed purely to be visited as a spectacle only to be morphed into a shell of its former glory – designed to milk as much money out of tourists as they can. Times Square in New York or every square inch of the Las Vegas Strip comes to mind. These places have become the sales floor for the tourism industry with all the subtleness of the methods from back home. They know you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket and are looking for a good time.
Don’t get us wrong – we don’t mind that businesses have found ways to make money, and whole economies thrive off of tourism and the money it brings in. It’s not that we’re incapable of saying “No,” it’s that we have to say it hundreds of times while being jammed in a crowd. It’s the aggressiveness employed in such narrow confines. We’re on vacation to escape that soul-crushing monotony of constantly “being sold.”
Your best bet is to do your research ahead of time and try to weed out these kinds of places. Unfortunately, recognizing a tourist trap before you’re in one can require a bit of experience. But if you do find yourself in one, do yourself a favor and move on to something more deserving of your precious time.
What are your frustrating travel experiences? Feel free to let us know in the comment section below or send us an email.
Latest posts by Barretts (see all)
- Iceland Packing List for All Seasons in a Campervan – Part 3 Extras - March 10, 2019
- Iceland Packing List for All Seasons in a Campervan – Part 2 Luggage - February 17, 2019
- Iceland Packing List for All Seasons in a Campervan – Part 1 Clothing - February 3, 2019