The trip is certainly fabulous, but there are, and this is normal, moments when you don’t see life in pink anymore, when you don’t enjoy your trip as much because of some inconveniences. It’s something rather guilt-ridden that travelers talk about very little, for fear of being judged. And when it happens to world travelers, the guilt is multiplied by 10 because we are privileged. “You travel the world for a year and you complain, unbelievable”
I found it best to share this feeling with other travelers, because everyone has been there. And when you are warned that slack can occur, you will be better prepared and react more positively
Here is the list of unpleasant things that could happen to you during your world tour, that happened to us or almost happened to us
The credit card that doesn’t work
Description: Even if the list of countries is communicated to the bank in advance, and even if your accounts are full of money, it is possible that your card may not work from time to time, especially in the lost corners
Solution: In this case, either you take out a back-up withdrawal card (you must have at least one!!) or you can use the emergency withdrawal card A MasterCard, a visa, two different banks); or you exchange your dollars at a super low rate. But your dollars have been prepared for this kind of case. It’s better to lose 10€ than to die of hunger, isn’t it?
Another possibility: if there is a Western Union office or equivalent (Azimo for example), you can pay online by credit card to self-send money and go to withdraw it a few minutes later. It’s expensive but it can help
Before eating in a very expensive restaurant in a lost corner, or going on an expensive excursion, ask to pay in advance, so that you will have plenty of time to realize that your card isn’t working 🙂
Tip: Until you have withdrawn money, you do not leave the airport of arrival. There is usually an ATM and exchange office open in any airport in the world (except Easter Island).
Insects, sand flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, ants, mice, rats, etc
Description: Sand flies spoil the lives of unprepared travelers in New Zealand, and even in the Seychelles apparently. Being armed with a sand fly repellent (full of chemicals) is essential for these areas. The worst of it is that nobody tells us. These monsters don’t transmit any disease so everyone keeps quiet, for fear of being seen as a grumbler when we are so lucky to be in the Seychelles. The sand flies are considered as The Best Kept Secret of the New Zealand Tourist Office
Solution: Now you know, arm yourself with anti-insect… worldwide
Description 2: In Asia, people live daily with cockroaches as big as the palm of your hand, lizards running on the ceiling, weird insects that are anything but cute. They are so used to it that they don’t even talk to you about it anymore. One day in Vietnam, JB thinks he sees a dead rabbit on the road. It was a rat… They invade the streets, they are 25cm long but people are used to it. Not to mention the ants that eat all your food, or sting you
Solution: In Asian countries, a mosquito net should be required when there is no air conditioning in the room. This protects you from the invasion of strange animals. The use of the mosquito net is never explained either: you should not let it drag to the floor no, you lock yourself in it, you roll up the edges of the mosquito net under the mattress. You kill the mosquitoes trapped in the net. After these killings, we can sleep in peace. I remember a girlfriend who forgot to get her hands dirty and woke up in the morning to realize that she had slept all night with 18 mosquitoes
Tip: For food, to avoid attracting rats or ants, put everything in a plastic bag (preferably closed) and hang it on the wrist of a door. Avoid leaving your sodas lying around on the bedside table.
Description: watches that suck your blood but may also travel with you
Solution: I thought I had dealt with them in Thailand (fortunately this was not the case but while waiting for a doctor’s confirmation, I still washed all my stuff and my bag in boiling water (I’m not saying La galère). I now systematically type the name of the hotel + bed bugs before booking it. And when I enter a room, I first inspect the mattress for black traces left by bed bugs. If I have the slightest doubt, I take out my meat bag and wash it with boiling water the next day. Beyond the bites caused, it is also a psychological war in which these invisible monsters drag us along
Flights at the airport
Description: Any pocket that can be opened can be stolen by airport personnel. Twice we have lost carabiners and a Swiss Army knife at the Delhi airport. I have even had a rotten umbrella stolen in Malaysia
Solution: put a padlock on each zipper. For the pockets without the possibility to have a padlock, do not fill anything. Or make the theft unprofitable by putting things without any value at the top (things that will be difficult to resell like clothes, toothbrushes) and put at the bottom of these pockets technical and resaleable things like sleeping bag, hiking boots..
Description: You discover Old Delhi and you don’t dare to set foot outside anymore. This country disgusts you. You are in Hong Kong, China, India, Singapore … and people look at you like a piece of meat, up and down, up and down … you feel naked. People spitting in the street, shitting in the street … Etc etc. Examples are numerous
Solution: accept that you can hate one country while everyone else loves it. Accept that you may dislike certain aspects of the country. If it shocks you too much, change your plans and go somewhere else, there is absolutely no shame in it. A trip is meant to be fun, don’t force yourself to stay in a place where it isn’t
Tip: If you know that a culture shock awaits you, prefer Airbnb/home stays away from the city center to the hotel, this will give you a slightly more positive view of the country.
Description: Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Easter Island, Chile, … to protect their flora and fauna, they prohibit the importation of animal and plant products into their country/small island
Solution: we throw everything away first and declare everything when we arrive: yes I have dirty shoes, yes I went to the farm 20 days ago. It is better to declare too much than to get a fine. I had to throw my NZ$60 manuka honey in the trash. So, before you go to an island, be prepared to have your stuff thrown away
Description: The Indian train is already uncomfortable, and your neighbor across the street snores so loudly that he covers the noise of the train. Even the earplugs don’t help. You are at the youth hostel and two of your neighbors are snoring in chorus, you start to foment murder plans. A night of assured shit. Know that if you share your dormitory only with the female population, it isn’t a guarantee, on the contrary..
Solution: go to bed before the others
Theft or loss of clothing
Description: already you don’t have many of them. And now, after a visit to the local laundromat, you lose your merino t-shirt at 100€ a piece
Solution: Always count the number of clothes donated to the laundromat. Sometimes they only give back part of it because the rest is drying (but they forget to say so)
Broken down rental cars/cooters
Description: Your rental car that looks brand new doesn’ t start anymore. Your scooter has a flat tire
Solution: (1) always pay for the rental by credit card when possible to benefit from insurance (2) never rent a car or a scooter on the day you take a plane (3) always have phone credit on you, hence the importance of buying a local SIM card at each step (4) always carry a portable charger (5) know how to change a tire and start a car with a dead battery (use Google or YouTube for that)
When renting a scooter, consider only short distances. Beyond 60km, pay for an excursion or rent a car. In Asia, some repair garages have an annoying habit of leaving nails lying on the road, 100m or 200m from the store, so the unfortunate victims will be forced to have their car/scooter repaired at home. The problem is that the nails stay there at night when the store is already closed. So don’t drive at night or after the standard closing hours
It’s only 7pm but you can’t find anything to eat/you can’t find any hotel open
Description: After the comfort of Asia where everything is open late, even on Sundays and holidays, we find ourselves in New Zealand where everything closes at 6pm and it’s a drama. We are in Moorea: Sunday everything is closed, everyone is in church
Solution: Arrange to arrive in a new city or country on a weekday (check holidays beforehand), and if possible before 3pm. If this isn’t possible, pay in advance on booking or other a room in a hotel with 24/24 reception. Make sure you have credit to call the hotel if needed. For any arrival after 5pm, buy at the airport or bus station something to eat (cereal bar, chocolate bar) and drink (very important). The ideal is to have two cereal bars with you at all times, or at least sugar and a small bottle of water
You are driving at the end of the world, the phone does not pick up. Google Maps are useless.
Solution: for all car rentals, you must always have a GPS. If the GPS does not cover this area (like in Tahiti or Easter Island), do not leave without a paper map
For all scooter rentals, downloading a map in offline mode on Google Maps is a minimum. Don’t make complicated trips with a scooter
You don’t receive any more SMS while roaming
Description: You need to log in to Gmail and Gmail asks you for a secret code sent to your phone. The problem: the French SIM card doesn’t work anymore in South America. You need to pay online, but 3D Secure protection is activated. You are asked to enter the code sent by SMS, which you do not receive
Solution : For websites that require double verification (Gmail, Yahoo, PayPal…), arrange to be able to connect otherwise without code sent by SMS (secret questions, codes to print, Google Authentication application…). For online payment, ask your bank if there are other alternatives. Société Générale for example allows you to obtain a code directly on the official bank application
Description: you pay 10 times more than a room
Solution: One trick is to observe the premises first, see how much they pay. Then, you order the same thing and give the exact amount, without asking how much it costs. If no premises show up, you actually have to ask the price. Usually, I ask for prices at the hotel reception desk. When I go to a bui-bui, I ask the price of the dishes before eating
You just have to keep in mind that even if you get scammed, the sum is ridiculous (1 to 2€) but it represents a huge income for the driver/salesman. In general, we accept to pay if the price doesn’t seem too exaggerated (80 rupees instead of 50 rupees) and then ask the seller for the “local price”, now that we have paid. He will smile at you and give you the local price (it’s a great conversation, he will tell you how much he ripped you off ahha). Anyway, avoid ordering before you have validated the price with the seller. When you are told an exorbitant price when you have already eaten, you are stuck
We don’t understand you
Description: The New Zealand accent is incomprehensible. Spanish in South America has nothing to do with Spanish from Spain. You call to book a campsite and you don’t understand ANYTHING
Solution: Ask the person you’re talking to gently to speak slower, with a smile. Ask someone to translate for you, French travelers are all over the world, you will always find one who speaks better English/Spanish than you do
We had this problem in Chile where we understood absolutely nothing. So we decided to go somewhere else: Argentina first, where Spanish is spoken more slowly with less slang. 3 weeks later, we got used to the Spanish sounds and back in Chile, we were able to have real conversations with several Chileans. Feel free to download the language learning podcasts (English, Spanish), there are really a lot of them. The idea is to get used to the accent, to the speed of speech. You can also watch movies in VO to practice. And download Google Translate to facilitate the exchange. In some countries, instant messengers like WhatsApp or Viber are ubiquitous. Very handy for booking a trip or booking a cab if you know you won’t understand anything over the phone.