The Time I Poisoned Myself, and Other Travel Mistakes

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In the final week of my last trip, I did a really stupid thing. It’s not a funny story so I won’t bang on about it, but I was furious with myself that after ten months I was still making rookie travel mistakes.

Making such a silly error that cost me $56 (to put that into context, in Colombia that’s 40 beers) made me think about all the other dumb shit I’ve done before/during that trip. Here are some of those stupid things.


I packed for a ten-month trip ten hours beforehand

In my signature last-minute style, I was packing until I went to bed the night before my flight to Argentina. I always do that for weekends away in the UK, “so what’s the difference”, I thought? Well, let me tell you the difference: ten months of travelling across various climates requires more thought than packing for a weekend at a friend’s house in London or wherever. I took so much ridiculous stuff, and I forgot a lot of sensible things that I pined for every time I unpacked my massive bag of useless crap.

Lists are a love of mine, so here’s one containing all the foolish things I did concerning my luggage.

  • I packed three skirts and two dresses. What was I thinking? It was below 20℃ for over half of my trip, and when it was actually warm I couldn’t wear a skirt because of the risk of thigh chafing (anything more than light strolling in hot weather usually results in open wounds on my inner thighs. Mmm).
  • I had one pair of trousers and no tights. See above. Not sensible packing.
  • I took Bridget Jones-style control pants. Why did I think I would be all fancy and concerned about how my body looks? It takes all my effort to shave my legs (I only took four disposable razors and they lasted the entire ten months). They went straight in the bin, my tummy needs to be free, yo.
  • I packed three shades of nail varnish and lots of makeup, but no shampoo or moisturiser. THERE IS NO CONSISTENCY TO MY BEAUTY REGIME.
  • I took so much stuff that my 70 litre backpack literally ripped at the seams. It was so heavy that I could barely carry it, and its sheer bulk fitted in precisely zero hostel lockers.
  • I didn’t have a practical day pack. Instead, I took a cotton tote bag (no zip, perfect for getting all your shit stolen) and a big leather handbag (like a goddamn Kardashian).

Stupid. All of that was stupid.


I am not a millionaire but I fully behaved like one

In the first three weeks of my trip, I spent £1,500. I had only taken £4,000 with me, so this was obviously a bit of an error. Thing was, I was letting loose. I was on holiday, I deserved a blowout after a stressful time at home, it was my 30th birthday blah blah blah. Whatever excuse I decide to use, it doesn’t take away from the fact that I spent nearly half of my budget in less than a month.

This led to some terrible consequences, such as eating nothing but bread and eggs for days at a time and not being able to go to Patagonia (I class these consequences as being equally terrible). Next time, I vow to remember the word budget. I will write it on my purse/credit card/forehead – I now know that it’s not clever to blow all your money on steak, red wine, and nightclubs. Actual footage of me in Argentina for reference…

Travel Budget

After The Great Spend of 2017 I had no choice but to become best friends with my credit card. Then, like a true grown up, I chose not to look at the balance for six months because I was scared of what I’d done. Turns out that what I’d done was spend over £2,000 on things that I didn’t need to eat/drink/wear/do. Oops.

Ah well. If anyone would like to donate to my life fund, please let me know.

Seriously, please let me know.


I lost all sense of hygiene

The third and final one of my major travel mistakes has to do with cleanliness. Sure, you need to let go a bit when you’re travelling: things aren’t going to be as hygienic as you’d like, and you’ll have to make do with substandard conditions sometimes. But you don’t actually have to cause those substandard conditions yourself.

In Uruguay, I had a bad stomach and couldn’t figure out why. I was drinking the (perfectly safe) tap water and I wasn’t eating anywhere particularly risky, so I couldn’t figure out what was making my tummy run. It was only when I looked inside my reusable water bottle after about a week of being dangerously close to shitting myself that I realised I was poisoning myself BY DRINKING MOULD.

Yes, that’s right, I had failed to properly clean my water bottle and it had gotten mouldy. I had then proceeded to drink at least two litres of water a day from it in an attempt to flush out whatever was upsetting my internals.

On a separate but related note, the first time I used my hand sanitiser was six months into my trip, and that was to clean my butt cheek before The Venezuelan Dreamboat tattooed it. How am I not dead?


If you’ve also done dumb travel shit please tell me so I don’t feel so lonely in my idiocy.

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