Although I’ve been on the road for almost six years now, I still feel like an adventure riding newbie in many ways, and I make mistakes that more reasonable people would probably easily avoid. Hindsight is always 20/20 of course, but I figured I’d share some of the dumb mistakes I made while traveling in the hopes of helping you avoid them – or at least, amusing the more experienced folks.
Fun and obvious fact: seasons are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere. Most reasonable people know this, and I’m pretty sure I knew this, too, yet somehow managed to forget the fact – and ended up in Ushuaia in September, riding in snowstorms and temperatures below zero. I should have stayed somewhere up North longer and waited till the Fuegian winter was over, but I was so hellbent in reaching Ushuaia that I didn’t even check the weather. Serves me right.
2. Peruvian Registration
I bought my first motorcycle in Peru and had no knowledge of local politics and international relations. When I decided to ride to Bolivia, I didn’t know I was not allowed to do so as a foreigner on a locally registered bike. The result? Ten days of running around like a headless chicken trying to sort the paperwork out, getting stuck in no man’s land between Peru and Bolivia, and further troubles while crossing into Argentina because of a forgotten Bolivian TVIP. If I had done my research, this would likely have been avoided, but I guess I only learn from experience.
3. Currency Carelessness
Hurrying through the Balkans to get to Greece, I forgot to check what Croatian money was worth (note to self: one US dollar equals about 6.5 Croatian kuna) and got way too many notes out of an ATM. No worries, I figured, I’d exchange them somewhere – only, it turned out, nobody wanted them. In Greece, I went to several different banks and was told I could only exchange the kuna at airports. It then dawned on me that this was probably the case all over Europe. I’d gotten used to currency exchange booths and kiosks everywhere in South America and figured exchanging money would be just as easy in southern Europe. Wrong. I carried almost a thousand Croatian notes for over a month until I finally exchanged them in Tirana, Albania. Pro tip for the Balkans: just carry euros – most locals are happy to accept them, and you’ll avoid high ATM charges and having to deal with leftover kuna/leke/mark/dinar notes.