Travel Advice Learned From Our Past Mistakes

Real advice from the Stoke Travel team. Over the years we’ve gotten ourselves into plenty of trouble, so you don’t have to. Learn from our mistakes, they’re doozies.

Promo Code Woes – Niels, French Marketing

“We’ve all used Expedia or Booking.com or any airlines platform at one point for hotels, flights and more. For those who use Gmail, we have the promotions tab where all these companies inundate us with new promotions, member pricing, flash sales and last minute deals.

“Every now and then when I’m at work, and that urge to find some miracle deal comes along, I click and browse through the promotions tab. They seem to all offer great deals with heavily discounted prices.

“Anyway, I was on the road to Madrid and my mate who said I could crash on his couch for the night bailed on me to chase after some Ukrainian bird (what a mate ay!). Last minute I clicked on a booking.com promotion and entered my dates for that night. Some random hostel in the centre of Madrid came up for 40 euros. My dates were right, I followed through to the payment confirmation and without thinking twice, paid for it.

“Later that night, I rocked up to the hostel and it was fully booked. Yeah but I have a confirmation email and everything! Check again mate, cause I don’t have anyone else coming in tonight. Double checked again, and the dates were for in two-weeks time, non-refundable. Instead I partied all night and had a pretty sick time.

“I consider myself a seasoned traveller and I got played. Pretty shitty feeling, especially when you have other plans. So the moral of this story is to be careful of these promotions! They are usually for pre-fixed dates, and by clicking on the ‘view sale’ tab, the web page that opens is fixed for those dates and only allows you to score the cheap prices for certain nights only. Always double check the dates just before paying, no matter how many times you’ve dirtied up hotel rooms in coke-fueled binges, you sleeze.”

Amster-damn Hollie, Marketing and Partnership Manager

“I guess the obvious one would be always double… triple check the dates you are booking on flights, trains, buses.

“I was all ready to fly back from Amsterdam to Barcelona and was thoroughly shocked when I was told at the check-in desk I wasn’t on their system, and of course ready to loudly tell them that they’ve obviously fucked up. Taking a closer look at my ticket turns out I had fucked up, booking March instead in February (twos look a lot like threes when you squint). Not wanting to spend another month in Amsterdam and develop an imminent addiction to prostitutes and brunch, I paid triple the original price to secure my spot on that flight.

“Once boarded, I was soon given an hour and a half to become content with my decision as we sat on the tarmac. We were eventually de-boarded and left to our own devices to mindread what was happening with our flight. Turns out it was cancelled and I had 12 hours to spend at Schiphol airport to contemplate all the money and sanity I had so quickly lost.

Average story, but you can take these two knowledge bombs:

  1. You can usually change or cancel a flight within 24 hours of first booking it,
  2. You can claim for a lot of delayed flights. Will require persistence and pester power, oh and,
  3. Schiphol has a lovely faux rainforest area at the airport to hang out at and listen to faux bird calls amongst faux trees.”

You Shall Not Pass-Port – Jamie, Managing Director

  1. “Can I make these anonymous? Because everyone knows that I never mess up…
    A well know tip: roll don’t fold. Folding takes too much time and leaves creases in all your clothes, while a roll also gives you way more space.
  2. Might be an “of course you should” tip, but always have a photocopy of your passport! A friend was out in Hamburg, Germany, it turned into a BIG night and she lost all her stuff, phone, wallet, everything… besides her passport, which was safely at home. The next couple of days were her last in Europe, and as always she had too much stuff to pack in her bag, so she sent a parcel back to Australia with things she wanted to keep. Well, her passport was in that bag and now on its was back to Australia. Yep, she left it in the bag she shipped back home. If she had a copy of her passport on paper, online, or a photo on her phone, Emirates would have let her on the flight, yet she didn’t; she had no form of identification. So it took her two very stressful days, a trip to Berlin, and all the money she had left on her to get a new emergency passport, while hers was safely at home.
  3. Always always count your money and re-check the calculations when you are getting it exchanged. About five times in the last couple of years I have recounted or redid the calculations and they have been wrong. Even though they calculate / count the money in front of me.”

Okt-doh-berfest – Robin, IT

“Getting detained at the Munich airport police station, missing your flight and almost having your colleague deported. All for having the wrong train ticket. Good times.”

What A Goose – Tessa, HR

“Don’t take your credit card out on a night out. Spending €600 on a three-litre Grey Goose bottle might sound like fun when you are drunk, but the next day I cried.”

To And From Russia, Without Love – Aidan, Marketing

“I’ve got a pretty decent story that could be helpful for any American travelers, as this airline still offers some of the cheapest US-EU flights.

“A few years back I was planning a backpacking trip around Europe and found that the cheapest flight going from California to Barcelona was with a Russian airline called Aeroflot. The route made almost no sense as it had me fly clear over Europe and into Moscow only to then backtrack and return to Spain 22 hours later, but it saved me $150 compared to the next cheapest flight, so I took it. Then, being the savvy traveler that I am, I found a way to disconnect the two flights and book a different flight out of Moscow saving me an extra $70 while only increasing my Moscow layover by a few hours. This turned out be the worst mistake ever, because I didn’t look into what visas were needed for Americans visiting Russia, and it turned out that any stay longer than 24 hours required a pre-approved transit or traveller’s visa. Long story short, I found that out upon entrance to the country, and was threatened with deportation unless I immediately bought a new plane ticket out of Russia that was scheduled to leave in less than 24 hours. I wound up buying a ticket for the flight that I should have taken originally except now it was $120 or so more expensive than before. Ultimately this cost me a couple hundred bucks and was a massive headache, so always check if you need a visa, even for layovers.”

Grine-derrrr – Josh, Design

“Things not to do: exchange roughly three thousand from a currency you know won’t be in your local bank back in the States. Then wear this currency duct-taped to your chest in negative degrees and code red pollution for a night in Beijing.

“Heels are always the best statement unless you’ve just arrived that morning in a new city and can’t guarantee your drunk friend won’t kick you out of the car on a freeway.

“If you don’t have enough money for food, but teach English in a Chinese-speaking country, it is considered rude to use a bowl to collect seconds for home from the cafeteria leftovers (bowls serve families not one person). If you also drink soup from a glass jar in front of students, parents will complain that you are homeless.

“Things to do: change your Grindr status to “new in town”, or “visiting”, and immediately get twice the messages and get taken around the best local places before checking off a new flag. Got me and my bestie VIP club entries, underwear, and more all over Asia.

“Always go to the museum store for gifts when you forget you will need souvenirs.

“Use location tags on Instagram to find the parties.”

Do you have any travel mishaps that our community could learn from? Light up the comments, or email gravy@stoketravel.com and we’ll make you (in)famous.

 

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