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My Weekend Of Rookie Travel Mistakes In Bangkok

You’d think after 50+ countries and almost 6 years of travel blogging that I’d be a pretty savvy traveller. Last weekend: not so much. During my 4 night trip to Bangkok for TBEX* I practised almost every rookie travel mistake there is in the book. Boy, was it embarrassing!

*Translation: TBEX is a travel blogging conference I attended as part of my work with moodAway

I grossly underestimated how long it would take me to get to Wat Pho but it was worth the effort

I grossly underestimated how long it would take me to get to Wat Pho but it was worth the effort

In my defence the logistics of the trip were put together a little last minute. Although I had my ticket and was planning to attend since July, the conditions of my visa here in Australia mean that I can’t travel without first seeking the permission of some unknown entities in the immigration office. I duly completed my travel request 4 months ago but it turns out these forms are not processed until 2 weeks before the date you are due to travel. Despite much chasing to see if I was going to be granted the visa I needed to travel the only response I got was ‘We’ll let you know before the event.” Not so helpful for pre-planning then.

Spreading the word about moodAway in Bangkok

Spreading the word about moodAway in Bangkok

Just over 2 weeks before TBEX, whilst I was in the literal middle of Australia exploring Uluru, I got an email saying I was good to go outside the country. So I set about booking flights and confirming all the arrangements I’d loosely made up until getting that permission.

Which means my Rookie Travel Mistake Number 1 was: Booking flights last minute

Although there are direct flights to Bangkok from Sydney they were all vastly more expensive than ones with a stopover. I decided to fly with Singapore Airlines as I have partner status with them (more on that soon) but the flights with the shortest stop over time were all sold out. I ended up with a 7 hour layover in Singapore, during which I checked myself into a transit hotel that was very comfortable and convenient, but at a cost of $90 for 6 hours cost more than most hotels in Bangkok.

If I have to transit anywhere, I choose Singapore Changi Airport

If I have to transit anywhere, I choose Singapore Changi Airport

Rookie Travel Mistake 2: Trusting the travel times on Google maps

I’m very lucky to have some PR friends who work with beautiful properties in Bangkok (more on them soon too!). I reviewed 2 different gorgeous properties in Bangkok during my stay but when arranging them had forgotten that one cannot take Google maps travel time at face value – especially not in city that suffers from as much congestion as Bangkok. The approx. 20 minute drive from my riverside room to the conference centre was in fact a 2, sometimes 2.5 hour, crawl to the other side of town. One time the traffic was so bad no taxis would take me where I needed to go, despite the hotel trying their best to convince someone for 30 minutes. So instead I took a boat, ran through a market, and secured a taxi on the other side of the river.

Tranquil views from Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort

Tranquil views from Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort

Rookie Travel Mistake 3: Not watching the taxi metre

On this occasion I was so euphoric that a taxi had agreed to take me I forgot to watch to see him put on the meter. I suspect because the driver saw the desperation in my eyes he figured he could charge what he wanted and so at the end of our meter-less journey he demanded twice what I had paid the day before. Just relieved to be there I dejectedly coughed up but..

Rookie Mistake Number 4: I forgot to bring small change

Being fresh in the country my purse was packed with 1000 baht notes, which, had I packed my brain, I would have exchanged for smaller notes at the hotel. The taxi driver, again seizing another opportunity I had so kindly handed him, claimed to have no change and thus ended what may have been THE MOST EXPENSIVE TAXI JOURNEY IN THAILAND.

Taxis weren't my friend but the chef at Benihana loved me.

Taxis weren’t my friend but the chef at Benihana loved me!

Rookie Mistake Number 5 is the most embarrassing one yet

I’ve honestly never done this before so I’m going to blame general jet lag and brain frazzle after a day of conferencing. Basically, I cannot be 100% sure, but I think I left my debit card in an ATM. I remember clearly going to the cash machine at the conference centre. I remember the amount I took out and where I safely put the money. And then I remember nothing more. There is a blank at the bit where you normally retrieve your card and put it safely back in your purse. Oops.

Sunset outside the Convention Centre after another day at TBEX

Sunset outside the Convention Centre after another day at TBEX

I got a taxi home (a pleasant 2.5hr journey – not) and paid in cash. As I ate dinner at the hotel I had no need for my card until I checked out the next morning and PANIC – I looked in my bag and saw it was not there. I’d got up before 6am that morning as I was due to be checking into my next hotel and then meeting a bunch of bloggers for coffee before another day of TBEX but time was running away with me. So with not having any time to spare I made the..

Most stupid of my Rookie Travel Mistakes: I used the hotel phone to call the bank

In my defence (weak argument warning) the hotel very generously provides free smartphones in all the guest rooms. These phones are loaded up with data and calls to local numbers and select international ones are completely free of charge. So when I couldn’t get on the internet to see how much money had been wrenched from my account, I blindly picked up the hotel phone thinking ‘It can’t be that bad, they give out phones with free data.’ Wrong. I think when it comes to using hotel phones it will always be that bad. It was 2000 baht (approx AU $80) bad. So that was how the most expensive of my rookie mistakes transpired. Luckily my account had not been rinsed overnight and I had some funds to pay the bill I was surprised with at check out.

Jet lag has its advantages - sunrise views from Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort

Jet lag has its advantages – sunrise views from Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort

There were more mistakes and misplanned adventures during these 4 days but it’s become too embarrassing to go on. I don’t think I’ve travelled like this much of a newbie since the late 90s. But at least I can say I learned from my 6 (coughs: 20) rookie mistakes on this trip, they ripped me out of my travel complacency and have hopefully set me on a smarter path for trips in future. At least, I hope I’ve learnt my lesson..

Have you make any rookie travel mistakes when you really should have known better? 

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14 Comments

  • Reply
    Megan
    October 29, 2015 at 11:16 am

    Hmmm there was that time I booked two one way flights from the same destination instead of one coming back the other way. Opps!

    • Reply
      Jayne
      October 29, 2015 at 11:24 am

      Ha that is a good one 😉

  • Reply
    Jen
    October 29, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Haha. I am glad I am not the only one that still makes rookie travel errors. I made a big mistake with my car booking in Mallorca last week and I feel all the more stupid when I am meant to be a seasoned traveller.

    Blame it on the weather, jetlag, someone else, hormones… either way we all make them no matter how much we travel 🙂

    • Reply
      Jayne
      October 29, 2015 at 11:24 am

      Phew – nice to know it’s not just me 🙂

  • Reply
    Katie MacLeod
    October 29, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Loved this – I think we all make rookie travel mistakes now and again! Last year I spent a week in Edinburgh, and only when I was going to get the train home (back up to the very north of Scotland) did I realise that I had booked my outward ticket for the same day I had arrived…! Luckily that one wasn’t too difficult to fix 🙂

    • Reply
      Jayne Gorman
      October 29, 2015 at 10:29 pm

      Haha that’s another easy mistake to make – there are so many elements that can go wrong with travel. I feel better about all the times I got it right now 😉

  • Reply
    Tiffany
    October 29, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Once I kept thinking my flight was a few hours before a friend of mine’s flight. I was kinda crabby about getting a manicure late in the day as I was worried about making my flight. She gave in and when we got to the airport my flight wasn’t for four more hours! I felt really bad. On the plus side, the airline changed my ticket to her flight, free of charge!

    • Reply
      Jayne Gorman
      October 29, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      Haha at least that worked out in the end. I’ve been confused when a flight is around midnight – we once had one in south america that left at 12.10am on a Tuesday and I thought that meant we went to the airport on Tuesday night. Luckily my friend twigged or else I would have been a day late!

  • Reply
    Kimberley Laing
    October 29, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    Oh my goodness that sunrise picture is gorgeous! That view really would make jet lag forgivable! Hopefully it took your mind of your mistakes as well 🙂

    • Reply
      Jayne Gorman
      October 30, 2015 at 6:49 am

      Haha it did – I was so distracted by the sunrise that I didn’t notice my empty purse :s

  • Reply
    Emma Hart | Paper Planes and Caramel Waffles
    October 31, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Oh no, it sounds like you had a few nightmares on your trip but hopefully it all worked out in the end! I remember once leaving my passport at check-in when I was leaving Sydney after spending a year in Oz. I didn’t want to leave anyway but I think that was my sub-concious making it even harder for me to get on the plane back to the UK 🙂 Fortunately (unfortunately), the check-in desk were shouting my name over the tannoy for 30 mins before I went to collect it.

  • Reply
    Shandos
    November 9, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    On my most recent trip to Malaysia, we left our hotel in KL and had walked half way to the bus station, when my husband realised we left our passports in the room safe. Luckily my husband quickly got a taxi and went back and picked them up, plus the instructions to arrive at the bus station 30 minutes before departure were not necessary (the bus was in fact 45 minutes late). That’s the first time we’ve ever done that, so, so lucky we didn’t realise that afternoon when we arrived at our next hotel!!

    • Reply
      Jayne Gorman
      November 9, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      Oh noooo! This is going to sound very stupid but I rarely use the hotel safe for fear I’ll leave all my possessions in it. So glad you remembered in time!

  • Reply
    World First Travel Insurance Blog » Blog Archive The World First Wander – travel blogs we love this week
    November 10, 2015 at 9:14 am

    […] So how do you avoid the mistakes? Learn from more experienced travellers who have been there done that and made their mistakes already. One of these is Jayne Gorman, who in one of her latest posts, reveals some of the mistakes she has made along the way. From the brilliant Girl Tweets World travel blog, My weekend of rookie travel mistakes in Bangkok. […]

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