The (Not So) Pro Travelers

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck
I packed my really cute black ankle boots for this seven week trip to Europe.

BUT WHY?! screamed my well-traveled friends. Boots? Have you learned nothing from eight years of continuous travel?

I responded with reasoning somewhere between it getting too chilly at night for my toes, and that they look cute with my jeans. Truthfully, there is one more reason: I haven’t even owned boots in a really long time and I feel pretty fancy with them on now, as opposed to the worn, solid black sandal style that I tried to pass off as kinda-sorta-dressy in those past 8 years.

I am sure that none of you are surprised when I tell you that I have yet to pull those boots out of my bag, and that those sandals are more well-worn than ever and they look perfectly fine with my jeans. So instead of being able to pack home good Catalonian gin, French cheese, or other such coveted souvenirs, that last free corner of my bag is instead housing said boots.

This egregious error in packing, from someone (me) who SHOULD be an expert in traveling with so many miles under me, earned another in a string of brusque tweets, aimed at myself, with a hashtag that I believe I have far from earned: #ProTraveler.

Instead of being able to pack home coveted souvenirs, the last free corner of my bag is instead housing useless boots.

Sandals

It is not my first.

I am grateful that we spent our first several years traveling without a mobile phone and without a Twitter account. Had I been keeping track since the beginning of our time on the road, I could overwhelm a novel with the many mistakes we have made.

I am often surprised whenever we actually arrive someplace on time, or that we haven’t lost something so important that it changed our plans entirely. (Well, I did leave our passports on a bus once in Chile, but we were able to retrieve those when I realized it a couple of hours later.)

In fact, even while starting to write this exact blog post about travel mistakes, I committed an intensely appropriate #ProTravelers offence. Looking briefly at the time of day, 10:15am, I peered up over my keyboard and said to Pete: “I’m pretty sure our train is at 1pm, but maybe we should double-check?”

It wasn’t 1:00pm. It was 11:25. Cue mad-scramble to pack, hair tucked under a hat with no time to shower, and a sprint to the train station. Oh, and in that mad rush, Pete forgot our water bottle at the hotel.

#ProTravelers #ProTravelers #ProTravelers #ProTravelers #ProTravelers!

There are others.

Even while writing this exact blog post about travel mistakes, I committed an intensely appropriate #ProTravelers offence.

Pro-Traveler-Tweets

There’s also that time I left my iPod (pre-iPhone days!) in our hotel on the Galapagos Islands.

And the time I missed my train to Barcelona from Girona because I was standing on the wrong platform. I also forgot my umbrella on that platform.

Can’t forget about the drama that unfolded when I left my iPhone on a plane after we landed in Istanbul.

Oh! And I left my bathing suit on top of our rental car in Malta and drove away.

And that tweet about nachos and Chips Ahoy? Happens WAY more often than it should.

Pete isn’t innocent either: he has left so many things behind, and if I let him be the chief navigator in airports, we would never make a flight. He’s too easily distracted to focus on directions.

There are so many more that I am sure I am forgetting.

I left my bathing suit on top of our rental car in Malta and drove away.

Luggage Tags

I can’t let this entire post go without sharing a few of the things that we have done well. (I’m all for self-deprecating humour, but must save a bit of face.) We have a few tricks up our sleeve.

We have never missed a flight or bus or train in all of our years of travel. We may be breathless, panicky, and near-heart failure at the frenzy of getting there on time, but we’ve always made it.

We’re not cheap travellers but we have definitely employed some good money-saving hacks (evidenced by the fact that we were able to travel for so long)! That’s thanks largely to being pro-housesitters.

With money saved, we even allow ourselves to splurge. We upgraded a recent 2.5 hour flight for only $50 each. Given our awful track record (this was just after our almost-missed-train-incident), I’m not sure if we actually deserved that upgrade, but at least we left nothing on the plane when we departed it. We’ll take that small win.

(Although I suppose that an upgraded flight could have warranted an opportunity to wear my fancier boots? #ProTraveler indeed.)

I’m all for self-deprecating humour, but must save a bit of face.

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