Everybody makes mistakes, that’s just part of being an imperfect human being. However, mistakes made while traveling can be embarrassing and add loads of unwanted stress to your trip. But with a little bit of know how, you can minimize your mistakes and insure that your trip is smooth sailing. This post will cover 10 rookie travel mistakes to avoid. These are mistakes that either I’ve made myself or have witnessed other travelers make, and these are in no particular order:
1. Packing Too Much
Now this really all depends on the purpose of your trip. If you’re traveling to a place to do a multi-day hike or go scuba diving, then you’ll obviously will need to pack the appropriate gear. On the other hand, if the primary purpose of your trip is urban exploration, then you shouldn’t need to pack no more than one bag. Packing too much stuff can make commuting in an around your destination stressful and exhausting. Not to mention the extra money that airlines will charge you to have your bags checked.
So try to pack everything into a single carry-on bag. I personally use the GoRuck GR2 as my carry-on bag. This durable 40 liter backpack is just within the maximum allowed carry-on dimensions for most airlines, so it offers a lot of packing space. Over the past year, this has been the only bag that I’ve used for all of my trips.
2. Not Having a Power Adapter
Electrical outlets in other countries may be different from your own. This will definitely be the case for any of my fellow Americans who are looking to travel abroad. Therefore, invest in getting a travel power adapter prior to leaving. If you forget to pack one, no worries, for you will almost certainly be able to purchase one in the airport. However, keep in mind that they are usually much more expensive there than what you can find on Amazon or wherever else.
I’d recommend getting a universal adapter. Which are able to convert to any electrical outlet. They are a little bit more bulky, but they give you the most versatility. So they definitely earn their place in your travel bag.
3. Relying Too Much On Your Phone
Modern technology is amazing! A smart phone can take good photos, tell you where you are, what time it is, opening hours of attractions, train and bus schedules, and so much more. There’s just a couple of problems though; they require a battery and you can’t always expect to have good reception. But you know what doesn’t require either… good old fashion paper!
So get yourself a physical map of your destination, and grab up some of those pamphlets off that rack in the lobby of your hotel or hostel. Your phone is definitely a useful tool while traveling. Though in the event that your battery dies or you can’t get a good signal, having these hard-copies can be lifesavers!
4. Not Wearing A Watch
Let’s face it, in this day and age, you need to know the time. This is especially true while traveling. You’re going to have to be at places at certain times. Again you shouldn’t rely too much on your phone for this. Instead, a wristwatch is a helpful and inexpensive way to make sure that you’re punctual.
5. Not Being Open To New Experiences
Being closed-minded pretty much defeats the purpose of traveling in the first place. While abroad you may have a tendency to gravitate towards things that you’re familiar with, especially when it comes to food. Try to avoid this and immerse yourself within the place that you’re visiting. Try some of the local cuisine, interact with and learn about the culture, and seek out what makes the place unique. These are the types of experiences that lead to lasting memories and make for awesome stories. I have a rule when I travel, and that is if I can get it at home, then I don’t want it while I’m traveling.
6. Booking Short Layovers Between Flights
Perhaps one of the most stressful things that can happen while traveling is missing a flight! This can send your entire travel plan out of whack. So arrive at the airport early and look at any layover times when booking your flight. You may think that having a shorter layover means that you won’t have to wait as long, which is true of course. However, there are many things that can happen in airports that are out of your control. There can be flight delays, long lines at customs, slow disembarkation of your plane, etc. Also if you’re not familiar with a particular airport, it will take some time to get your bearings and find out where you need to go to make your connection flight.
So having a longer layover gives you some buffer time in the event that any of these things happen. Take it from someone who had to run through Boston Logan Airport to get to a connection because my first flight was delayed. They were even announcing my name over the airport speakers telling me to report to my gate. I ended up waltzing onto the plane to find that everyone else was already seated with their luggage stowed away. So save yourself the potential stress and embarrassment and avoid short layover times, you’ll be glad you did!
7. Not Knowing How You’re Getting To Your Accommodation
Learn ahead of time how you can get out of the airport and to your accommodation. Is there a metro line or buses? Or are you going to have to take a cab? More often than not the airport is going to be far away from the actual city itself. You may be wanting to take a taxi for the sake of convenience. However, this will undoubtedly be a more expensive option. You can save yourself a little bit of money if you familiarize yourself with any metro lines or bus routes before you go.
8. Flaunting Your Gear
If you’re bringing expensive and valuable items with you, try not to make everyone else aware that you have them. This ties in with my previous post on travel safety, and is something that I tend to witness a lot from other travelers. I once saw a man sitting at an outdoor table at a cafe with his DSLR camera on the table next to his laptop while looking at his iPhone. What made this situation rather precarious was that he was in a developing country. A place where expensive items like that could go a long way for someone.
You will inevitably have some of your things visible from time to time, but try to keep it to a minimum. The less other people know about what you have the better. For you will then be less likely to become a target for any would-be thieves.
9. Not Being Physically Fit
Now there are no physical requirements that you must meet before you can leave for your trip. However, traveling takes a lot of walking, often with a bag on your back or luggage in tow. Which can leave you feeling exhausted and miserable if you’re out of shape. You don’t have to be a body builder or a triathlete, but being in good physical condition can make your travels much more enjoyable.
How you choose to do so is entirely up to you. I find all avenues of fitness to be valid. However, if you’re starting out, I would recommend simply walking more. And there are several ways in which you can hack your life to do so. Park your car further away and walk to the store, or take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Also, just simply go outside and go for a walk! Free opportunities to exercise are all around you, so utilize them. This way you will be in better shape to conquer your adventures!
10. Having a Rigid Schedule
This is a mistake I made myself in my early days. I once put together a detailed trip itinerary in an effort to see as much as I could. I even went as far as assigning time slots for different attractions. However, it didn’t take long until I just threw it out. I found myself rushing through places that I wanted to stay in longer, and transit times between places took longer than I had anticipated. So trying to stick to this schedule in an effort to see as much as I could just left me frustrated.
Know that you’re not going to be able to see everything while visiting a place, so prioritize. Think of just a few places that you would consider to be ‘must-sees’ and focus on doing those first. Anything else after those will feel like an added bonus!
To Sum It Up
You’re going to make mistakes, both during your travels and in your life, it’s inevitable. However, keep these points in mind so you can reduce the number of mistakes you make while traveling. If you do end up making mistakes, don’t let them ruin your trip. Treat them as a learning opportunity and try not to repeat them. Travel is like anything else in life, the more you do it the better you’ll get at it. So get out there and travel and learn!