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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

I recently heard a funny story (it’s only funny because it didn’t happen to me) about a couple of travellers who wanted to travel down under to Sydney, Australia but who ended up, one way or another in Sydney, Nova Scotia on the far east coast of Canada.

Booking Mishap

Flight 714 heading to Sydney…

They had neatly folded their bathing suits, packed their sunglasses and tucked a kangaroo guide into the bottom of their knapsack. Everything was ready for the trip of a lifetime to Sydney, Australia. Valerio and Serena, a young couple from Italy, travelling for the first time outside of Europe booked a holiday in Sydney, but not the Sydney they had in mind.

Unexpected and spontaneous changes of plan are of course part of the charm to travelling around the world, right?

Their plane was just about to land after a just an 8 hour flight and what they saw out the window: wooden houses and billboards advertising snowmobiles, surprised these anxious globe-trotters to say the least.

The pilot welcomed all the passengers to their destination Sydney, Canada just before landing. Indeed they had landed in Sydney, but the wrong one! Surprised but taking it easy, Valerio made a quick call to their travel agent in Italy to confirm that a mistake had been made during the booking. While the couple was waiting for another flight to be organized and take them to Australia, another 14,000 km away, they didn’t hesitate to enjoy the local specialities: fresh lobster, beautiful scenery and the best Celtic fiddle music in the world.

The problem was fixed quickly and the travel agency offered the couple a free flight to Sydney and their story was so popular that once arriving in Australia they were offered 2 nights free accommodation in their hotel!

Homonyms to watch:

This is not the first time this kind of mistake has happened. In the last either years two other couples have found themselves in Sydney, Canada instead of in the beloved Australian destination. A traveller from the Netherlands also made a similar mistake, spelling Sydney with an “i”, which is in the USA. But the grand prize of booking mishaps goes to a Norwegian family who wanted a dream holiday in Rhodes found themselves instead in Rodez… Here are a few other destination homonyms which travellers should watch out for while booking a flight:

Northern or Southern Hemisphere?

  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Oakland, California, USA
  • Hamilton, Canada
  • Hamilton, New Zealand

Antiquity or Modernity?

  • Naples, Italy
  • Naples, USA

The Saints come marching in…

  • Santiago du Chile
  • Santiago de Cuba
  • Santiago, Dominican Republic
  • Santiago, also known as Saint-Jacques de Compostela!
  • San Jose, Costa Rica
  • San Jose, California, USA
  • San Jose, Philippines
  • San Jose, Mexico


  • Rodez, France
  • Rhodes, Greece
  • Rome, Italy
  • Roma, Australia
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Bucharest, Romania

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