TRAVEL TUESDAY: NEVER EAT FISH IN SWAZILAND AND OTHER CAUTIONARY TALES

If you travel a lot it is inevitable that some disasters will occur. Whilst they can be distressing or annoying at the time, you will eventually see the funny side and the tales will live on to entertain your friends at dinner. Here are some of mine...
  1. Always listen to the Doctor
    In the early 70s prior to an interail trip round Europe, cholera vaccination was not a requirement to enter any country but was recommended. Being a coward about needles I declined, but during the trip the rules changed and Greece closed the border to anyone without a certificate. I was chucked off the train at 4am, had the jab and had to spend 3 days in a tiny border town in Yugoslavia where there was only one (very seedy) guest house. Now I always get the jabs!
  2. Mind where you put your feet
    Once I made it to Greece I had the misfortune to step on a stone fish on a beach in Skiathos. It is the most painful thing EVER. The remedy, should you ever need it, is vinegar!! (And always take beach shoes)
  3. Don't put all your belongings in one bag
    The first time I went to Ghana to visit my former partner's family, my luggage went to Nigeria. There is nothing worse than standing at baggage reclaim when the carousel stops! I was reunited with it after 24 hours but for that time I had literally nothing with me but the clothes I stood up in. My hand luggage now includes the essentials for the first 48 hours.
  4. Don't lose your bearings in a strange town
    On a day trip round Mauritius we stopped in a small town for an hour. I wandered off on my own to look at a craft market but somehow managed to leave by a different exit and got totally disorientated. I couldn't figure out where the coach was parked, and panicked. Fortunately I managed to retrace my steps and made it just in time! Now I always check street names and landmarks before exploring.
  5. Always go through immigration on your own
    My Ghanaian partner and I went to the USA a few times. He must have looked suspicious (or perhaps it was just the colour of his skin) because we were always stopped and searched. Having a stranger rifling through your smalls is horrible and embarrassing. Eventually I got wise to this and went through on my own. There'd be time to grab a coffee while I waited on the other side looking smug as he went through the inevitable!!
  6. Don't leave late for the airport
    My tour of Morocco ended in Marrakesh but the flight home was from Agadir, some 200 miles across the mountains. Our guide didn't allow for hold ups on the narrow mountain roads and it was a mad dash, ending with us pulling up outside the terminal building just as the flight was being called to board. We were rushed through checkin but there was no time for all the stuff you normally do before a flight, like getting changed. Arriving at Heathrow in shorts in January is not recommended!
  7. Never eat fish in Swaziland
    It's a little landlocked country miles from the sea. The infrastructure is poor, refrigeration can't be relied on and food hygiene may be basic. What kind of idiot orders fish for lunch!!? Yes you guessed it, and I was SOOO ill for the next five days....Vegetarianism is the answer and happily I learned the lesson and survived a trip to India the following year without a problem!