Nomad by Trade

A travel blog for the kid at heart.

Mondsee, Austria - Travel mistakes, how to avoid travel mistakes, and how to recover from travel mistakes

Our Biggest Travel Mistakes and Disasters and How You Can Avoid Them

Travel mistakes and disasters can happen to anyone, even seasoned travelers. I recently went on a family vacation touring through central Europe and despite the fact that we’ve all logged countless miles and nights on the road, we made lots of travel mistakes. From flight delays to lost luggage to deceitful rental car companies, we had it all. Here are our biggest travel disasters and what you can do to avoid making them yourself (or recover from them).

Travel disaster: Lost luggage

Three members of my family had their luggage lost for the entire 10-day vacation. This included ski gear, Christmas presents, and almost all of their clothes. This was the biggest travel disaster I’ve ever encountered in four years of constant flying. Check out all of the awful details of our lost luggage saga with Air France and Lufthansa.

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Lost luggage disaster with Air France and Lufthansa

Our Nightmare Lost Luggage Saga with Air France and Lufthansa

This Christmas, we decided to take a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Europe for the holidays. We had a great time – don’t get me wrong. We saw all kinds of cool places, but the vacation was overshadowed by a horrendous experience with Air France and Lufthansa and both airlines’ refusal to offer any semblance of customer service. We’ve been home for over a month now and are still fighting with both airlines to receive the customer service that we deserve. Here’s the sad, infuriating saga of my family’s luggage-less vacation.

The seven people on the trip came over in three separate waves. My mom and sister came a week earlier. I flew solo and met them in Milan. My dad, brother, and brother’s girlfriend, Jill, flew over together last. They were scheduled (and had confirmed seats together) to fly from Windsor to Toronto to Paris to Munich. When they got to the Windsor airport, they were told that they didn’t have seats on the first flight. They spent nearly two hours at the Air Canada desk while a customer service agent moved mountains to get them onto the full flight. He told them that he could see that the segment had been cancelled by someone from Lufthansa, but had no way of knowing how or why it had happened. Eventually, all three of them made it on the plane and got to Toronto.

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Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Venice, Italy

The Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Venice

Located just a short walk from the most popular tourist spots in Venice, the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum is an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours of hands-on fun. Da Vinci invented so many incredible things – like ball bearings that are still used in machinery today – and this museum brings them to life with wooden recreations that you can operate yourself.

The first floor of the museum contains several replicas of da Vinci’s most famous works of art with descriptions and information about their significance. You can also see some of his handwritten manuscripts. I passed through these displays pretty quickly because I was anxious to get up to the hands-on portion of things.

Manuscript at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Venice, Italy

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Colosseum tour in Rome

Touring the Top of the Colosseum

Visiting the Colosseum in Rome had been on my bucket list since before I ever heard the term “bucket list.” When I first caught sight of it on the bus to my hotel, my jaw actually dropped in amazement. It’s amazing to think that such an enormous structure was built using only manual and animal strength.

While I was planning my trip, I discovered that the top level of the Colosseum had recently been reopened to visitors for the first time since the 1960s. I knew I had to experience that. As it was the thing I was most looking forward to in Rome, I decided that it was worth splurging on a tour to get the full experience. I ended up taking a 3.5-hour guided tour with City Wonders.

View from the fifth level of the Colosseum

It’s also possible to visit the top level of the Colosseum with a ticket purchased straight from the official website, but I gave up on that because with only two weeks left in December, they still hadn’t started selling January dates and I had plans to make.

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Fountain at Detroit Metro Airport

The Best and Worst of US Airports

Everyone who flies regularly eventually comes up with a list of best and worst airports, as well as a healthy set of air travel pet peeves to go along with it. I asked travel bloggers and frequent business travelers about their favorite and least favorite parts of all of the major United States airports. Read on to find out which US airports have the best food, which airports have the worst security lines, and which airports are so hopelessly outdated that all you can do is shake your head in disbelief.

Airports on the list are alphabetized by the major city they serve. (Anything not credited to another contributor is my own two cents based on four years of frequent business flying and an unfortunately expensive personal travel habit.) Make sure to visit the comments at the end to tell me your favorite and least favorite airports!

Atlanta, Georgia – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

The terminals in Atlanta are linked by a surprisingly efficient train system which makes making connections way less daunting than you would expect for such a large airport. It’s consistently ranked as the busiest United States airport, so you can get pretty much anywhere in the world from here and have lots of options to be rebooked if your flight is cancelled.

I’d had connections through the Atlanta airport many times before finally having it as my final destination. Just getting to my rental car from the airport took an eternity. Taking the train to the central terminal, finding my way to another train, and then taking that to the garage took well over an hour. All I wanted to do was leave the airport.

The Atlanta airport has almost no capacity to deal with winter weather, so a tiny bit of snow or ice can cause major flight delays.

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Visiting Fortress Hohensalzburg in Salzburg, Austria

Fortress Hohensalzburg: Salzburg’s Top Attraction

While visiting Salzburg, it’s impossible to miss the imposing fortress Hohensalzburg high atop the hill looming over the city. It offers lots of great history, plus a killer view, so touring the fort should be on everyone’s itinerary when visiting Salzburg.

Salzburg, Austria at twilight

Things to do at the fort

First things first, let’s talk about that view. When you exit the inclined railway, head left to go to the “balcony” overlooking Salzburg. You’ll get the perfect panoramic view of the Salzach River winding its way through the city with the surrounding mountains in the background. It was gorgeous in the summer, and when we visited in the winter, the twilight view looked like it belonged on a Christmas card.

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What to see at the Musei Capitolini

What to See at the Musei Capitolini in Rome

The Musei Capitolini offers a fantastic gallery of artwork and artifacts right in the heart of ancient Rome. If the collection isn’t enough to amaze you, the buildings themselves are worthy of exploration, as they’re intricately detailed and certain areas show off the blend between ancient Rome and more modern construction as old ruins were uncovered during excavations to expand the galleries.

If that’s not enough to convince you to visit, the museum has a significant historical significance: it’s considered to be one of the oldest museums in the world, having been gifted to the people of Rome by the Pope in 1471. The layout of the unusually-shaped square was designed by Michaelangelo (the artist, not the Ninja Turtle), who also contributed one of the most famous works of art nearby – The Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

Note: I received free admission to the Musei Capitolini thanks to a 72-hour Roma Pass provided by the tourism board. All opinions are my own. For more information on the Roma Pass or visiting Rome, check out the Tourism Board’s website. You can also contact them on Facebook or via phone at 0039 060608.

What to see at the Musei Capitolini


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Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

Visiting Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome

Located just a few minutes from the Vatican City – in fact, it’s connected by a walkway the Pope could use to escape attackers – Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome is the perfect place to explore after visiting the Vatican City. Your tour gives you an interesting insight into how the structure has morphed from a mausoleum to a fortress and Papal residence. If the history isn’t enough for you, the view of Rome and the Vatican from the top of the fortress is worth a visit in and of itself.

Note: I received free admission to Castel Sant’Angelo thanks to a 72-hour Roma Pass provided by the tourism board. All opinions are my own. For more information on the Roma Pass or visiting Rome, check out the Tourism Board’s website. You can also contact them on Facebook or via phone at 0039 060608.

Visiting Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, Italy

What is Castel Sant’Angelo?

If you find yourself in the vicinity, the imposing structure is sure to catch your eye. It stands out from the other architecture in the area with its fortified walls and cylindrical tower. It was originally constructed as a mausoleum for the Emperor Hadrian and his family, and the ashes of subsequent emperors were also placed there. A bridge crossing the Tiber River leads directly to the Castel, and the angel statues lining both sides reminded me a bit of the famous Charles Bridge in Prague.

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action-packed New York City weekend itinerary

Action-Packed NYC Weekend Itinerary

Looking to cover New York City’s highlights in a weekend? This two-day, action packed itinerary will take you through the best of the best. Be prepared: you will do a lot of walking. My two weekend trips to NYC have seen me average 13 miles a day according to my Fitbit. This fast-paced New York City itinerary will keep you on the move and is definitely for the go-getters who want to see and do as much as possible in a short amount of time.

Day One in New York City

Start your weekend in NYC in lower Manhattan and finish the day in Midtown.

Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Statue of Liberty - Weekend in NYC itinerary

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Governor's Reception Room - New York State Capitol

Touring the New York State Capitol Building

I have a weird fascination with visiting state capitals, so when I found myself working in Albany for several weeks, I knew I needed to visit the New York state capitol building. When a previous business trip took me to the Albany area a couple of years ago, I wandered around the building, but since I hadn’t done any research, I was unaware that regular people like me could explore inside the capitol building. In fact, guided tours of the New York Capitol are available daily, and visitors are free to explore the building on their own. And a bonus for business travelers who are busy during the day: it’s open until 7 pm on weekdays.

The New York Capitol is a beautiful historic building with a very European feel, plus a little touch of Hogwarts.

New York State Capitol tour in Albany, NY

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