Because you’re likely committing a considerable amount of time, money, and energy toward your next trip, making the most of your experience while at your destination is paramount to having it feel like a success. Without prior research, you risk making easily preventable travel mistakes that can turn a fun trip into one filled with headaches.
There are many aspects of life where it’s alright to fly by the seat of your pants, but travel is not always one of them. That’s why it’s best to review some of the most simple travel mistakes that people make during their travels and how you can best avert them.
Spending all of your time in tourist areas
If your destination features historic landmarks, famous parks, and other popular attractions, you’re more than likely going to run into areas with a high density of tourist activities. These areas will more than likely have long lines, higher prices, and a lack of authentic cultural immersion.
Try to limit your visits to touristy destinations to less busy times of the day and dedicate the rest of your trip to experiencing a more genuine local culture. You can research ahead of time or respectfully inquire from friendly locals to learn more about the hidden treasures of your destination.
Avoiding locally owned restaurants and street food
You or someone you know has likely experienced the immense discomfort caused by food poisoning during travel. These stories may scare you into avoiding local spots and instead veering toward familiar franchises and comfort foods. However, when you avoid local restaurants and street vendors, you’ll likely end up paying more for worse food. Trying out the local cuisine or where locals go, is also one of the best ways to get to know a place.
Follow some general, sensible rules of thumb for navigating food markets and local restaurants. These include looking for places that are popular with the locals, and you’re sure to leave with a full, satisfied, and non-queasy stomach.
Running out of money
Realizing you’re running out of money is dreadful when it happens in the middle of your trip. Since travel is one of the most acceptable times to splurge, begin saving in the months leading up to your departure.
By making small adjustments to your spending habits, you’ll be able to save a considerable amount over time. Some ideas include carpooling with coworkers to save gas on your commute or finding student loan refinancing opportunities to help drive down monthly costs.
Overpacking is often an overreaction spurred by feelings of unpreparedness. It’s easy to fall into the trap of packing too much, instead of too little, “just in case.” Before you start haphazardly shoving clothes, shoes, and toiletries into your suitcase, master the art of packing by starting with a list of your travel essentials.
Include necessary documents, climate-friendly clothing, and anything you need that would be difficult to acquire where you’re travelling. You can also save space when packing clothing by planning to wash your clothes at a local laundromat or by purchasing some soap and a portable travel clothesline for your room.
Squeezing too much into your trip
When you have only a few days to explore a city or an entire country, you may be tempted to try to fit as much as possible into your itinerary. Instead of overbooking your trip, practice slow traveling by budgeting plenty of extra time between activities.
You can use this spare time to take unexpected side-adventures or explore areas you hadn’t considered before. Although you may see less overall, this mindful method of traveling will result in more meaningful experiences and less stress.
Disrespecting the culture
Even with the best intentions, if you’re unaware of cultural norms or expectations, you might end up making a poor impression with the local residents. Show respect for the community by doing your research on the regional etiquette for dressing, dining, and communicating. Don’t exclude other areas where there might be a cultural gap. Traveling to new countries is a great time to become more acquainted with an unfamiliar way of living. Take advantage of that by learning from and immersing yourself into the culture as much as possible.
What are some of the worst travel mistakes you’ve made, and how did you recover from them?