The Tales of an unprepared traveler.

In December, my family insisted I join them down in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the duration of my summer break. With no hesitation, I bought my flight down and booked the best Airbnb my part time job budget could afford.

I began googling travel hacks for things that would prepare me, a first-time ticket buyer, for my upcoming adventure.

It all seemed easy enough.

You know, I got the ‘important’ things out of the way.

I told my friends, “I’m no amateur.”

Meanwhile, I had no travel insurance, passport or vaccinations.

“I’ve researched everything I need and I still have time,” I assured everyone.

I admit that my ‘research’ only lasted about 25 minutes before I felt sufficiently versed in all things travel related.  My confidence was high for someone who had just looked at the first page that comes up when you google ‘Travel Hacks.’

All of these were straight forward, but at the same time, a little irrelevant to the circumstances I was about to face.

Looking back now, none of them spoke about the reality of getting your passport renewed, buying travel insurance, exchanging currency beforehand and getting adequately vaccinated

Here is a synopsis of my travel preparation. On March 1, I realized my passport was not up to date.


From March 13-18 (yes, five days), I spent time either in the passport office line, scrambling to get in line, or on the phone with the passport officials. All in an effort to sort out missing information before their closing time of 4 p.m.

The first day I went in was on March 13 at 10 a.m. I beat the crowd with my forms in hand, with my confidence at a hundred per cent.

As you might have guessed, I did not get too far. I was turned around by security at the doors because of an incomplete section in my first form.

Nonetheless, I was not about to let this discourage me. It was a minor setback, but I vowed to return the next day, with my forms completed.

So, I did.

March 14, I woke up early. As soon as they opened the doors, I was one of the first eager people waiting in line.

I thought nothing could go wrong, I was irrefutably wrong.

Establishments such as passport offices, the DMV, doctor’s offices, or any government operated building will inevitably test your patience. I like to relate my experiences to playing a video game, trying your best to beat the boss, but then every time  I thought I was on the home stretch, a monster known as “Unpreparedness,” hits me with a total K-O.

As a person who has been pampered by her parents. In the past all my flights were paid for and planned out to a T. This experience gave me an essential reality check about time management and researching.

Take my actions as a cheat code.

If you plan on ‘winging it’ through travel preparations, there is a better way. Head down to the travel center on campus or ask your parents.

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