Travel tips: The 15 inescapable truths of travel

Call it Murphy's Law, or just plain bad luck. But there are some truths of travel that are just unavoidable; some experiences that will always occur.

They're not good things. They're not fun. But you just have to resign yourself to the fact that they'll happen.

The plane will always be too hot. Or too cold.

This will happen on the same flight, too. It'll begin like the Sahara, then go Antarctic for a while, then go back to being far too hot, and the temperature will just be hitting something reasonable by the time you land and have to get off.

Same with the hotel room.

Even hotels with fancy thermostats tend to have wild extremes in temperature, where you'll be sweating it out for hours in the night before you suddenly have to search through the cupboards for extra blankets when the temp dips below zero. I've found, oddly, that the more basic the hotel, the easier it is to regulate the room temperature.

No one will be able to understand your attempts at their language.

You've bought a phrasebook, you've practiced in the mirror, and you're determined to speak the local tongue – but still, no one can understand a word you're saying, and they just switch to English once they hear you massacring their language anyway. But it's the effort that matters. Truly.

Your bag will never be first off the carousel.

I have a theory that there are a couple of fake test bags that are sent out first by the handlers to make sure the carousel is running correctly – because in all the years I've been travelling, on all the flights I've taken, my bag has never been off the carousel first. Not once.

You will miss out on doing things. Great things.

You can't see everything. You can't do everything. You have to accept that there are truly great experiences overseas that you'll miss out on. It's a case of prioritising and making sure you do the things you really want to do, while also leaving some time to just do nothing.

You will pack too many clothes.

I pack too many clothes. Often far too many clothes. It doesn't matter how long you've been travelling for, or how much of an expert you fancy yourself being, you'll still pack things that will prove to be utterly useless overseas. It's also worth remembering that other countries have shops in which you can buy things too. No need to pack up your entire bathroom before getting on that flight.

Someone else will have had a better time than you.

They'll also make sure you know that they had a better time than you, telling you about all of the amazing things they saw or went to or ate or drank that you didn't. These people need to be ignored.


You will always choose the slowest immigration queue.

You'll inevitably get the guy who has to read every single detail on every single immigration form, and who stamps things with the enthusiasm of Joe Hockey at budget time. Just resign yourself to this process taking forever.

You won't have enough money.

And that's because of another inalienable truth: things will cost more than you expect. You can do all of the careful budgeting you like, but you'll still spend far more money on your travels than you ever could have anticipated. Make a budget and double it.

Your experience of and opinion of an entire country will be decided by only one or two small incidents.

It might be a really friendly cab driver, or a rude waiter, or a helpful person on the street, or someone trying to rip you off at a market. Like it or not, it's these small incidents that will colour your opinion of an entire country. They're the stories you'll end up telling at home, and the memories that will linger.

At some point, you will get sick.

Maybe not horribly ill, but you will get some sort of stomach upset, or a bit of flu or even just a really bad hangover. You can't eat all that strange food and drink all those strange things, and travel around in those giant petri dishes known as aeroplanes without being affected.

Tourists will ruin some experiences. Also, you are one of those tourists.

Argh, they're everywhere! They're swarming through the Vatican, clogging the Eiffel Tower, barging around the Statue of Liberty and rambling up and down Las Ramblas. And you're one of them.

You will buy things you'll never wear again.

Hey, you think, these Thai fisherman pants look great on me. And this furry Russian hat will definitely come in handy back in Australia. And it's only a matter of time before Beerlao shirts become cool back home. Except, none of those things are true.

There's only one way to ensure you get an upgrade.

The secret? Pay for an upgrade. You can dress fancy, you can sweet-talk the person at the counter, you can flash your frequent flyer credentials and you can name-drop like a champ, but you'll still wind up back in economy class. The only sure-fire way to secure an upgrade is to pay for it.

No one will want to hear your stories when you get home.

Sorry, but they won't. Even if they say they do, their attention span is probably only good for one quick anecdote. And then it's time to move on.

What do you think are the inescapable truths of travel? Have any of these things ever happened to you?



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