Common Travel Mistakes and How to Overcome Them
Whether you’re an experienced frequent traveler or simply just the bi-yearly odd tourist here and there, everyone makes one or some of these all-too-common travel mistakes that can cause headaches or even major trip derailing setbacks. But with some effort and a little planning, it’s relatively easy enough to avoid these annoying little buggers, so you can spend your time kicking it while smooth sailing into the sunset with relative ease.
Well then, let’s try to send you on your way to a fantastic ride by looking at and eventually avoiding these common travel mistakes that each and every one of us have made once or twice at some point, shall we?
NOT notifying YOUR bank OF YOUR TRAVEL PLANS
Monetary transactions made abroad rarely go unnoticed by banks or credit card companies and so (for good reason) they tend to be flagged. The reason for that is obviously credit card theft and fraud and so they will in a lot of cases freeze your account, which is a major nuisance if not even a disaster should you be traveling abroad without a fair amount of cash on you. So always make sure to inform them of your exact travel dates and destinations!
We all think that we need to be prepared for every scenario and occasion that might occur during our trip, so we naturally try to pack something “just in case” for each and every one of those events. But just take a minute to imagine the difficulty of hauling your luggage around everywhere. And besides, these days most airlines charge high baggage fees for excess weight and extra pieces of luggage. So pack light and remember that you can always do some laundry on the road!
NOT leaving enough time between connecting FLIGHTS
If there’s anything I’ve learned during these years of travel is that flight departure and arrival times can be super unpredictable. It’s one of those complex processes in life which you have absolutely no control over. Your first flight might get delayed due to weather conditions and you might be forced to rush through an unfamiliar airport to make your connecting flight which you might not reach in time. So always book your flights with a safe buffer of two hours or more in between.
Not making copies of your passport and visas
It is every traveler’s nightmare… having your passport lost or stolen or destroyed. But unfortunately it happens all the time and I’ve witnessed it. Redundancy’s the word! Always have an extra set of hard copies on you, as well as a digital set stored on a cloud or simply emailed to yourself. These copies will help you verify your identity and hasten the renewal process. Even when you’re out sightseeing, avoid carrying your original passport with you and carry a copy instead…
changing money AT THE AIRPORT
Do your best to avoid changing large sums of money to local currency at the airport where the rates are usually way worse than the one you’ll find on the street. Should you need some local currency to take public transportation or cab rides, change only a small amount, just as much as you need to get you to your hotel. Alternatively you can take out some cash from the airport ATMs. Personally I’d rather keep cash in hand at all times and use credit cards only for emergencies.
Not researching the country you’re visiting
It’s always a good idea to do at least a basic amount of research on the country you’re traveling to, even if some of you would want to leave your destination a surprise; you should be at least a little prepared. From the public transportation system and how to get to your hotel from the airport, to what the climate will be like during the period of your visit and how to dress appropriately. It is also a good idea to know what to expect with regards to the local culture, customs and even history.
Not negotiating the price of the cab ride before getting in
The oldest tourist-trap in the book… Many countries don’t have metered taxis, and even if they did, some actually refuse to switch it on. However, in my experience all taxi prices are negotiable if done in advance. Even if the taxi appears to be ‘official’ and you’re sure you’re not going to be overcharged, it’s always a good idea to ask for the price in advance anyway and save yourself a potentially awkward incident and the trouble of being ripped off.
Having a guidebook as your only reference
A good guidebook is a great start I always say, but in my opinion it is there only to give you a peek behind the scenes and a head start, so try not to think of it as a travel bible to be followed blindly. Never miss the chance to interact with the locals or other travelers which can potentially share a wealth of information with you about a place, and remember that there is a lot more to a location than what can be found in a guide.
Taking an obscene amount of pictures
When I first started traveling I’d walk through the sites with my camera stuck to my face shooting everything that moved (or stood still for that matter). Then at some point I realized that the damn thing has become sort of an obstacle blocking me from the full experience. And besides I also realized that I rarely ever look back at all these pictures again. So do yourself a favor… Take a picture, then put the camera down and experience the moment in real life!
Sticking to the main tourist area.
Most people don’t realize that travel is a 4 dimensional occurrence, and to experience it well and to the fullest, one must look beyond what’s actually there in front of them…beyond the obvious. Most people will exclusively stick around the most famous, expensive and crowded spots alone. Oblivious to the fact that they could significantly enhance their experience by wandering the back streets, away from the main tourist area, where the food and beer are cheap and the experience is authentic!
NOT taking care of your valuables
Theft is the last thing you want to deal with, so avoid having your cash, electronics, or other valuables stolen by keeping them locked up in a hostel locker or safe whenever possible, or under the watchful eye of a trusted friend whenever they’re not with you. And when you’re out, take with you only the essentials with just enough money for the day, and a copy of your passport, instead of the real thing.
overloading yourself with ACTIVITIES and COUNTRIES IN ONE TRIP
The worst thing you can do while planning you trip is trying to cram every sight and activity you’ve heard of into your itinerary. It’s understandable that you might be feeling excited and overzealous about having the best possible time on your travels, but this could possibly set you back big time. You’ll be too busy to find hidden gems or follow up on tips from locals. This can be too stressful, and don’t you already have enough of that in your daily life? So make sure you turn it down a notch and give yourself some time to relax and experience the best your trip has to offer.
Confining yourself to Your Comfort Zone
Travel is the perfect time and setting to tear down mental barriers. So go forth and do something for the first time… Do something you’ve never done before. Invade a few personal spaces, strike up a meaningful conversation with a local or ask someone out on a date. You have absolutely nothing to lose, and besides, connecting with people is what enriches your travel experience, and that means getting out of your comfort zone!
So what are the common travel mistakes you’ve made and how did you overcome them? Can you think of other ones? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below. Let’s help each other out so we don’t have to learn the hard way!