6 travel mistakes we won’t make again

Posted by Elise Kirsten on 9 October 2018

You’d think that the Getaway team comprises seasoned travellers who breeze through hotels, youth hostels, airports and border posts as routinely as brushing their teeth. It’s not always smooth sailing however. Here are a few of our travel blunders.

Image credit: Anete Lusina

1. Don’t pack this in your check-in luggage

Do not pack the tequila, meant to celebrate the end of your Mozambican safari, in your check-in luggage. Chances are a baggage handler will drop the bag from a dizzy height and you will spend your holiday in tequila marinated clothing (no matter how many times you wash them in Mozambican ‘laundromats’). – Justin Fox, Editor


2. Don’t cancel flights before reading this

I bought an early-morning flight out of a tiny regional airport (the name escapes me) to Istanbul as the one I had booked on Turkish Airlines was leaving very late in the evening (12am) – I wanted to get to spend the day in the city. Little did I know that because I booked on another airline and didn’t cancel the original flight (it would have been viewed as a no show) my flight with Turkish Airlines from Istanbul back to South Africa was cancelled. The rigmarole of trying to get it reinstated was stressful and I had to pay a fine. I was a greenie traveller in those days and I won’t make this mistake again. Dealing with a bland-faced, unhelpful agent in Istanbul’s Turkish Airline head office was horrible (avoid it at all costs) and I narrowly missed having to buy an entirely new ticket back home!
– Michelle Hardie, Managing Editor


3. Not putting a passport in a safe place

It seems obvious but this mistake stands out because it happened to me twice.

When travelling to Australia about 10 years ago we stopped in Singapore to catch a connecting flight to Melbourne. I had placed my passport in a side pocket of my handbag and stowed my handbag under the seat. On disembarking at Singapore airport I fished around in my bag for my passport, only to discover that it was missing. After a moment of pure panic I had to beg the officer at the security checkpoint to let me go back to the plane to look for it. He was not easily convinced. Finally, back on the (now empty) plane, I found it on the floor wedged between my seat and the wall, much to my relief. I now keep my passport firmly zipped in a compartment inside my shoulder bag whenever I travel, and check for it before disembarking.

The other occurrence was my boyfriend’s mistake. On a road trip in Mozambique when we were students, we got out on a quiet rural road to look at the view, and he placed his passport on the roof of the car. We drove off with it still on the roof and only realised about 20km down the road. We turned back and had to find the exact location, then walk up the road searching carefully among the leaves and stones. Luckily we found it after about 20 minutes. – Louise Topping, Art Director


4. Not rescheduling or cancelling when ill

I had a runny nose for a few days, followed by a scratchy throat and then coughing that came about before I had the chance to drug myself, drink lots of liquid and get some much-needed rest. I was in Plettenberg Bay for almost two weeks and had a splendid itinerary planned that included a few visits to wine farms followed by a few days of hiking. The first mistake I made was ignoring the early symptoms. The second mistake was going ahead with the hike even my body was on near shut down mode. I was a bit too adamant to hike. It took me a long while to recover from that flu which affected the rest of my trip. It also took a lot for me to get through the hike, which meant I didn’t get to enjoy it as much. I know it’s all because of the second mistake: not giving my body the rest it needed and allowing myself to recover. – Welcome Lishiva, Multimedia Journalist


5. Not checking all the closets

This very rookie travel error nearly cost us a flight on honeymoon. I had borrowed an elegant black jacket from my mom to use while in Spain and to make sure that it didn’t look creased, I hung it up in the cupboard in our hotel room in Barcelona. I can’t remember if I folded the rest of my clothes in the shelves or just lived out of my suitcase (probably the latter) but when the day came to catch our flight to Mallorca, we arrived at the airport in Barcelona and suddenly the penny dropped. I had left my mom’s jacket behind! Had it been mine I might not have gone back, but because it was my mom’s I had to go and get it. We hopped on a bus, retraced our steps to the hotel and retrieved the jacket. From then on everything was one blurry sprint. First to taxi where we watched every minute pass and encouraged the driver to go as fast as he could. This was followed by an inelegant dash across the far too spacious terminal building. We made it to the boarding gate as it was about to close. It was the closest I’ve ever come to missing a flight and not an experience that I’d want to repeat. To his credit my husband didn’t give me a hard time and again to his credit he recently fished one of my socks out from beneath our bed in a hotel room, as he did a final sweep after I was out the door. Some things never change. – Elise Kirsten, Digital Content Manager


6. Suncream is a liquid too!

Most travellers these days are aware that for security reasons you can’t take liquid of more than 100 ml on board an international flight. Although on domestic flights in SA it seems that you can board with veritable litres of glycerine if you so choose! Prior to a two-week diving/beach holiday in the Philippines I had stocked up with a bumper bottle of sunblock to last me the fortnight. Because we’d be heading strait to the ferry after landing in Manilla, I put my sunblock into my carry-on bag for easy access at the ferry terminal. I was promptly relieved of my whole holiday’s stock of sunblock at the Air Asia check-in terminal in Kuala Lampur. High factor Island Tribe is not easy to find in a small dive resort on Malapascua! – Cathy Hofmeyer, Deputy Editor

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