Solo Travel,  Travel

True Confession: Sometimes, Travel Isn’t So Great

I know it’s not a popular topic, but I think it’s important to discuss the less-than-glamourous side of travel – the stuff that can and does go wrong.

Take a quick glance at Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and you’ll see everybody posting about their awesome their trip was.

Does that paint a complete picture? I don’t think so. Sometimes, traveling sucks.

My trip last month was pretty much a disaster from start to finish. It feels like everything went wrong.

The Plan

During China’s Mid-Autumn Festival’s 3-day weekend I planned to do a quick trip to Seoul, South Korea instead of fighting the hordes of tourists that were bound to be at any place I tried to visit if I remained in the country for the holiday.  

For whatever reason, I could never find the time to actually sit down and plan out what I wanted to do

I didn’t stress over this too much as winging it can result in some cool adventures. As I’ve mentioned before, I fly by the seat of my pants quite often and it usually turns out just fine.

SN: China is not really a great place for long weekend travel if you want to fly out of the country. Layovers can be ridiculously long and prices (at least to me) aren’t that great.

How It All Went Wrong

Where do I even start?!

So much went wrong on this trip. Obviously, a lot of it was my own fault but some it seems to have just been just rotten luck.

On Thursday morning, I locked my key inside of the apartment. This meant that I would need to figure out who had a spare key and get it from them, collect the dog and take her to the sitter, pack AND make it to the airport by 1:30 PM.

Did I mention that I was also supposed to actually go to work too?

Not only had I not packed a single thing, but I also didn’t even bother to write out a packing list, something I always do because of my tendency to pack at the last minute.

But you know what happened? I flew 1,600 miles and did not bring a single comb, brush, hairband, or hair product.

I completely forgot to pack them. How did I forget?! Because I didn’t have a #$*@&% list!

To make my life more difficult, many “Chinese” holidays are also holidays in other countries. Chuseok is observed in Korea on the same weekend as China’s Mid-Autumn Festival.

Inside of Gyeongbok Palace
Outside of Gyeongbok Palace

It is a major holiday, akin to American Thanksgiving in its observance, which apparently includes historical cosplay 🤷🏽‍♀️. There were tons of people, including foreigners, dressed up like this.

I wish I’d really have understood the significance of the holiday and that most attractions, AS WELL AS RESTAURANTS, were closed 2 of the 3 days that I planned to be in Seoul.

And of course, I didn’t bring any Picky Girl-appropriate travel snacks because I was too busy ripping and running in order to make my flight. #EPICFAIL

I travel with a laptop, cellphone, Kindle, and camera which of course all require charging.

As you can see, Chinese outlets don’t require a plug adapter. As a result, I’ve grown very complacent and completely forgot that I would need an adapter in Korea.

Google Maps, which is my #1 travel app when it comes to wandering around a city, did not work in Seoul due to its proximity to North Korea.

Of course, I only remembered this AFTER I arrived.

I won’t bore you with the details of how it happened, but just know that I couldn’t get any cash from my Chinese or American bank accounts.

How do you fly to another country with absolutely no access to cash? I can’t even tell you. It definitely added an extra layer of adventure to my trip that I did not need.

But wait, it gets better.

Desperately trying to avoid yet another meal from the 7-eleven, I solicited help on Facebook. I was ecstatic when someone came through with what I thought would be a solid recommendation.

tater tots, orange slices, fried chicken, bacon and French toast
French toast fried chicken stack w/ bacon

I rode the subway for almost an hour to get to this place only to become violently ill almost as soon as I’d finished eating. The subway ride back to my hostel was tough.

What to Do When Life Gives You Lemons 🍋 (or at least what I do)

Allow yourself a moment to bitch and moan about how crappy things have turned out. If you need to cry some angry tears, do that too. Your feelings are valid.

Then, get out of that negative headspace.

To do this I give myself a reality check. Did I die? Could it be worse?


Try to look for the lesson the universe was obviously trying to teach you.

Is there a way to avoid this problem the next time? Was it something YOU caused or was it something completely out of your control?

This is an important thing to consider because stressing about crap that you can’t control is a losing proposition.

And finally, move on. Don’t dwell on the past.

Have you had any travel experiences you’d like to forget? Go ahead and share your pain in the comment section below. You’ll feel better.

One Comment

  • Mireya

    Oh no! I’m sorry your trip to Korea was a bust! If you ever come back, feel free to hit me up! I live right outside of Seoul and I won’t let you get food poisoning!

    From a fellow tejana!