My Biggest Tourist Mistakes in Rome

I don’t have a lot of regrets.

But in Rome – I took my major mistake-making to a whole new level.


I lost money (a lot of it),

had my worst accommodation experience YET,

packed badly,

and made a huge timing miscalculation at one of the biggest tourist sites.


Learn from my tourist mistakes in Rome, and don’t make my same mistake twice!

My Biggest Mistakes in Rome

My Rome Re-Do List


If I could go back in time, I would…

…NOT Exchange my money at the American Express at the airport.


We were in a rush to catch the train into the city, and dog-tired after an intense 10+ hour plane ride from Rio and almost an hour waiting in the long line to get through immigration.

We just wanted to get to our AirBnB to sleep!!

Because of this exhaustion and rushed-ness, I made one of my worst money mistakes EVER. I exchanged money at airport kiosk. The second one I saw. And didn’t compare rates.

The seemingly sweet cashier told us that not only would she cut us a deal for changing more money (400USD) they have a GREAT deal running, in which you can exchange any unused Euros back to US dollars at the same exact rate you changed for, within seven days.

What she didn’t say? That “GREAT deal” costs an extra 5 Euro. And that she’d given us an awful rate (which I didn’t double check), and charged 30 Euro on top for her commission.

Moral of the story: Always, always check your receipt before walking away!

My Airbnb Nightmareseriously

If I could go back in time, I would…

…NOT Stay in a really bad AirBnB.

Broken keys, extorted cash fees, late night harassment, misogynistic and violent “artwork” all over the apartment, threats to file false police reports, defamatory and contradictory review…

the list goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on

as to why this was the absolute WORST choice in accommodation I have ever made. Unfortunately, it was Easter week (everything was booked!), I had packed our schedule full of prebooked and prepaid tours, and we realized our problems 24 hours after check-in (after the AirBnB payment window has passed).

Learn from my mistake by clicking here.

Vatican Museum Romejust one of the many glorious and detailed paintings in the Vatican museum I had to breeze by

If I could go back in time, I would…

…Budget more time at the Vatican museum.

Like, double the time.

There was just SO much to see!

Our tour operators “ORP” recommended that we would only need 2 hours to see everything. So, we planned our Vatican tour for 1pm, and our next tour – St Peter’s Basilica – at 3pm.

This, however, was INCLUSIVE of walking time (both tours had to start at the operator’s location) and did not account for the lateness of the operator (about 15 minutes), who had to escort us to the entrance, as we had purchased “skip the line” passes, nor the mass confusion at the entrance.

If I could do it again, I would give myself at least 4 hours (including walking time and only if purchasing a skip the line pass.. if not, I would include more time).

I really love museums, and there was SO much to see, including the Sistine Chapel and halls and halls of other amazing artwork.

Rome Pantheon Selfie What to Wear Spring my one outfit that I would maybe keep (note the coat in hand for when it gets cool, dark jeans, sturdy boots)

If I could go back in time, I would…

…Dress differently.


Everyone in Rome dresses for the weather and looks good doing it.

I brought quite a few dresses, and felt uncomfortable. Why? No one (seriously – NO ONE) had their legs bared. And the weather was nice! I even bought leggings while there, because I felt so obviously “tourist” with my naked skin.

Also, I had packed a lot of light colors (white, cream, pastels) but maybe I missed the memo on dark colors as well. Is there a rule in Rome like the whole “no white after Labor Day” that my mom mentioned once?

I felt like I had planned my whole wardrobe wrong.

For Rome in the spring, I would recommend dark jeans or leggings, boots or other classy but comfortable shoes, and definitely a jacket. At night it got quite cool, and sometimes even during the day when the breeze picked up.

The wardrobe word of the trip would be: LAYERS!!! More Rome wardrobe tips here.


For more on Rome click here

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My WORST Tourist Mistakes in Rome


Do you have any travel regrets?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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  1. Arik
    April 25, 2015 / 11:18 am

    Going there next week and the last thing I wanna do is to lose money on bad exchange rate …
    Where will you recommend to do the exchange then ? Also – do you have some recommendations on good area to buy souvenirs?
    By the way – Love your writing !!! Thanks !

    • April 25, 2015 / 11:26 am

      In any of the tourist areas, there are exchange places. I would recommend either changing only a little bit of money at the airport, and the rest at a tourist agency or exchange center.. or even better, order Euros in advance from your home bank before arriving in Rome. Then you can be certain you get a good rate and aren’t ripped off.
      I think Campo di Fiori had a lot of cool souvenirs. The salespeople were really helpful – they even pointed out that the black-colored pasta contained seafood after we told them that my friend and I are from Israel and the US, so it’s not suitable for vegetarians and certain religions.

  2. May 7, 2015 / 11:44 am

    I hadn’t heard of Airbnb scams in Rome, but it doesn’t surprise me. I visited long ago and was robbed, ignored and disrespected so much that after two days I went to the travel agent and said, “Get me out of here”. At least you didn’t get pickpocketed, as I did — beware the train station and the innocent-looking children who beg outside. (I did get my wallet back, but only by grabbing them before they got away.)

    • May 7, 2015 / 11:51 am

      Oh wow! I am so sorry that you had a bad experience, AND got pickpocketed! How awful!
      Aside from the bad Airbnb, I actually had a really great time in Rome (though I did think some of the subway stations and subway trains were quite sketchy looking!) and everyone was really nice to me (aside from my host)… I didn’t see any children begging at stations, maybe that issue has been cleared up, hopefully!

      I hope if you go back again you have a better time!

  3. May 9, 2015 / 10:23 am

    That must have been a nightmare. I can only imagine how you felt. I would have had a pure meltdown! I’m just waiting for the day I get pick pocketed! It’s my biggest fear!

    • May 9, 2015 / 10:25 am

      Me too! Knock on wood, hasn’t happened to me yet.. Only ever willfully gotten “robbed” haha

  4. Bob
    May 9, 2015 / 1:04 pm

    It’s good to know all these things!
    Something like that could totally ruin my vacation!
    Thanks for the tips! I will watch my back ( and my pocket)!!

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