When you travel, interesting things happen. You may miss your flight, get almost arrested, find yourself communicating through signs, indulge in a whimsical cultural nuance, or forge lifelong friendships with total strangers. In the moment, you may feel anxious, frustrated, or pushed out of your comfort zone. Yet, when you look back and think about those times, you have a good laugh about it. Every travel memory is a learning lesson and a great story worth sharing.
While our team is working virtually during summer 2020, we decided to share our funniest travel stories with our readers. We hope that in sharing ours’ you may be reminded of your own humorous travel moments.
Melissa Ting: Always Do your Research
I always research restaurants before I travel to make sure I’m getting the best representation of a country’s food. On this particular vacation to Paris however, I may have fallen a bit short…
It was my first time in Paris, France, and as it is a place known for its marvelous food, I knew I wanted to do something absolutely amazing to celebrate my boyfriend and my anniversary of being together for 3 years. In conducting my initial research, I discovered that Chef Cyril Lignac had a 1 Michelin star restaurant, and I just had to try it!
I had done my research and had even made my reservations several months out; and before I knew it, we were finally in Paris. I thought I had done everything right. On the day of, however, I was on the restaurant’s website, drooling over the photos of the foods we were going to later experience, when I happened to stumble upon the menu…and the price. I was flabbergasted! I quickly converted the Euros into USD, hoping that somehow the value of a Euro had dropped and my USD was worth a lot more. It wasn’t. I debated whether to tell my boyfriend but figured it was better to let him know before we made a scene in the restaurant. When I told him, he was in shock. Lucky for me, we decided to go anyway.
This quaint little restaurant had the most exquisite food I had ever had in my life. We had a 7-course meal with white asparagus, scallops, lobster, steak, and adorable little desserts. When the bill finally came, we had been subdued by the incredible food and the 4+ hours of impeccable service. It’s a night that we (mostly me) still laugh about to this day!
Lesson Learned: Research beyond the pretty food pictures and definitely confirm the price in your own currency before booking a restaurant.
Laura Vo: Beware of the….Bucket?
I was around four-years-old when I first traveled to Vietnam. Being a Vietnamese American, I was in tune with much of our customs and culture. However, it wasn’t until I went for the first time that I genuinely was culture-shocked. It was mid-day when it was time for me to take a bath.
Being only four, you’d think my parents or someone would supervise a child during this time, but everyone thought that I’d be okay on my own. So I walked in, ready to wash, only to come face to face with two buckets. One was small and filled with water, and the other was large enough for a person to stand in.
At first, I was confused about what I needed to do, but I decided to sit in the larger bucket for a few minutes. I don’t know when the thought hit me, but I realized that the water from the smaller bucket needed to go into the one I was sitting in, so I began dumping all the water into it. I also found a soap that I could use and proceeded to squirt as much of it as possible into the water I was sitting in. This resulted in a slippery, bubble bath concoction.
As the bucket was quite deep and everything was wet and slippery, I couldn’t get myself out and could only sit there screaming in sadness. I was in there for about 30 minutes when my mom finally came in to check on me. I remember her being so shocked to see the makeshift miniature pool and me hysterically crying. With my mom’s help, I was freed and cleaned off. For the rest of my stay, however, I was told that I was extremely terrified of buckets.
Lesson Learned: Don’t underestimate the bucket… or unexpected cultural norms.
Jordan Dunn: The Brig Is Real
I am no stranger to cruise travels. Starting with my first cruise at the age of eight, my memories of these trips are endless. I will never forget however, the day I learned that the brig is real.
At fourteen, no one could have convinced me otherwise that I was not, in fact, invincible. With that mindset in tow, it never once crossed my mind that I should have checked in with my grandparents, or even my older sister about where I was venturing off to.
In my defense, I had simply made a new friend, a girl my age from England and we had spent the late afternoon and evening hanging out, exploring the boat, and talking about our respective cultures. Having always encouraged me to learn about new cultures, I thought my grandparents would be so happy to hear about how I had spent my time.
Never did I expect to hear “Jordan, please come to the main desk on deck 5” come blaring over the loudspeaker! I was mortified but of course, and made my way to the front desk, where I was met by – none other than my anxious grandparents and a terrifyingly stern cruise ship security officer. Expecting to speak my case and be scolded but lovingly embraced for my safe return, I was taken aback by what happened next. The security man said that if I did it again, I would be sent to the brig! My fourteen-year-old self didn’t even know what the brig was, so needless to say I was scared straight.
To this day I have no clue if that security man meant what he said, or if it was just a scare tactic, but it can be said for certain that I never again wandered off on a cruise…
Lesson Learned: 14-year-olds do not, in fact, know it all, and cruise security means business.
Sucheta Rawal: All’s Well That Ends Well
A long time ago, my husband and I traveled to Greece. We rented a car in Athens, Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, exploring the little villages and getting a flavor for authentic Greek life. This was back in the days before GPS and smartphones. We didn’t speak Greek and only had a physical paper map to guide us through the complicated streets.
After our road trip around Athens, we were supposed to head to the port to sleep on an overnight ferry from Athens to Crete. I had everything printed out – direction to the port, car rental papers, cabin reservations, etc. Even with all my preparation, we just couldn’t find the port! We drove for hours and hours, until all the streets started looking the same. Finally, we asked a taxi driver to lead us to the ferry port. We followed him in our rental car and found the port that was only a few minutes away. We had been so close! In our minds, we had fortunately planned enough time to get lost and still make our departure time.
However, just as we got to the docks, the ship was pulling away. Based on my calculations, we still had hours before the ferry was supposed to leave. I pulled out my printed reservation which read as “Departure 19:00.” Somehow my brain misread the military time and converted the actual 7pm departure time to 9pm!
Since we still needed to get to the next island, we found the cheapest hotel nearby and booked the first flight out the next day for a quick flight to Crete.
Everything went smoothly. Instead of a 9- hour ride on a ferry, our flight took less than 1 hour. The hotel we had booked in Crete was walking distance from the ferry port (as per the original plan) and had a nice view of the Mediterranean. Just as we settled into the room and looked out the window, we saw our ship just pulling in. We had a good laugh at our own blunders and misadventures. At least we were right on schedule!
Lesson Learned: Know how to read Standard time vs Military Time, and just because the original plan didn’t work doesn’t mean everything is ruined.
~By Jordan Dunn, Marketing and Communications Intern at Go Eat Give. Jordan is a Public Relations and Communications Marketing Major at Siena College in Upstate NY. She has a passion for writing, traveling, and advocacy. Follow her on Facebook and Blog for more about her personal travel stories.