How Not to Start a Round The World Trip

It’s official. I am a candidate for the 2012 World Travel Darwin Awards.

Sit comfortably in your armchairs, dear readers, because I’m about to tell you a little story about exactly the wrong way start a Round The World trip.

Everything was going swimmingly. I managed to catch my flight to Buenos Aires without throwing up from nerves all over the passport officials at OR Tambo Airport. I swiftly arranged a ride in a transfer taxi from Ministro Pistarini Airport and arrived exactly on time at my accommodation, despite the bad traffic caused by wet weather.

My host Ignacio made me a cup of coffee and we chatted happily about mountain biking, paleo diets, rock climbing and, finally, about where I could pop out and buy some groceries.

But when I went to my room to fetch my money belt, it wasn’t there.

The money belt I had put EVERYTHING I most needed into. Both my passports. My only credit card. USD500 in cash. My iPhone. My driver’s license. My vaccination certificate. And (just to make absolutely certain of disaster) the taxi ticket number and contact details of the taxi transfer company.

My relief at arriving at my destination at last had been so great that I forgot the cardinal rule of travel: always look behind you when you leave. (This applies to hotel rooms, airplanes, buses and, most especially, taxis.)

Fortunately, Ignacio is a wonderful host. He found the number of the taxi transfer company on the internet and spent ages trying to get hold of someone on the phone. When he did, he spoke to them in rapid Spanish, combining cajolery and commands, to try to get them to track down the driver and the missing money belt.

Unfortunately for me, it’s a long shot. The taxi transfer company were less than helpful and, four increasingly agitated phone calls later, it seems as if the money belt is gone for good. It looks like I will have to spend the next few days finding out more than I ever wanted to know about police stations, embassies and banks in Buenos Aires.

It’s tempting to take this as a bad sign. Perhaps even a reason to give up and go home. But I won’t. Because in many ways I’ve been really lucky. I’m staying in a place where people actually care about what happens to me and will help me sort it out. I won’t starve, because Ignacio immediately lent me some cash. I won’t even feel too sad or panicky, because Ignacio and his other guests – Petra, Nana, Wendy and Vincent – have been so sympathetic and friendly.

So don’t worry about me. Just vote for me in the 2012 World Travel Darwin Awards.


(P.S. The Darwin Awards don’t actually have a travel category. But they should – just for people like me.)

Accommodation in Buenos Aires

If you’re a solo traveller planning a visit to Buenos Aires, you can’t do better than to book a room at Mi Casa en BA. It’s a beautiful house in a central location and Ignacio is not only helpful, friendly and amazingly fluent in English, but he also has great taste in music and ice-cream.

11 thoughts on “How Not to Start a Round The World Trip

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  1. Nooooo Alison! I’m guessing you had data roaming off and can’t use the ‘Find my iPhone’ app to track it?

  2. Shite Alison!

    You’re iPhone is still on cause the iMessenger sign still shows. Great! Dya have iPhone finder on?

    If you need consular help, speak to the ambassador Tony Leon. I have his email if need be. He was helping whatsup in BA.

  3. I may or may not win the Travel Darwin Award, but I think I just won the Luckiest Idiot Abroad Award: Ignacio succeeded in tracking down my money belt and I can collect it from the airport this evening. Holding thumbs it’s really there and that I don’t make another giant taxi muck-up…

    1. Great! As your phone was still on, I sent threatening messages to it saying the holder was being tracked… Ignore my messages when you get your phone back. Holding everything I have …

  4. Just remember, you’ve been to Ethiopia solo. You’ve ridden donkeys through canyons. You lived alone in Woodstock. A little scavenger hunt is nothing :P
    (PS Holding thumbs too)

  5. Ooof! That’s rough! We’re also in the middle of a Round The World Trip AND in Buenos Aires! (we’re at So far though, you seem to be having all the “fun”! Good luck down the road!

    1. Thanks Brooke! Yes, everything’s been lovely so far, since I haven’t done any more Incredibly Stupid Things. I’ve followed your blog and look forward to reading about your experiences. I wonder if we’ll bump into each other somewhere? :)

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