5 common travel mistakes to avoid.
So, you’re thinking about heading out the door for your next travel adventure. Like many of us, you’ve planned out your trip and you’re eager to jump on the next plane to see where the wind takes you. You’ve purchased your travel tickets and figured out which fun activity you’ll be doing for each day of your trip. At sunrise, you leave the building and hop in the taxi. You arrive at the airport, excitedly pick out your passport, but you get stopped in your tracks. Why, you ask? Your flight bookings were made in the wrong time zones and your plane left 3 hours ago!
■ We all make mistakes from time to time (some of us a lot more than others). However, when traveling, many of these mistakes could be easily avoided – they’re so common that any experienced traveler could help suggest to us how to make sure our plans go smoothly. As many of these time-consuming (and often costly) mistakes can be prevented with just a snippet of quick advice, we thought it would be helpful to compile a list of 5 common travel mistakes that we feel can be easily avoided.
That way, instead of being stuck at the airport with an expired ticket, you’ll be snorkeling along the Great Barrier Reef figuring out what your next adventure will be!
1. Overpacking your luggage
■ When gearing up to go traveling, it’s common for us to want to prepare for every situation possible. Before we know it, our luggage is either over the airline’s weight allowance or over the weight that your back can handle! As a result, it’s important to take the time to pack appropriately beforehand. Instead of throwing in something for every occasion, focus on necessity-packing first.
Start with only what is essential for your journey, and then work up to what could be “useful-to-haves.” Then, only if you have room, pack what could be “nice-to-haves.” Although things that are “nice to have” can make our trip more enjoyable, remember: there will likely be shops with affordable items wherever you travel.
Consider taking a little extra money and purchasing items you find would make the trip more enjoyable (e.g., beach games) along the way, rather than be overcharged at the departure gates (or worse… having a strained back ruin your trip!).
2. Overpacking your schedule
■ Like luggage, it is just as easy to overpack your itinerary whilst traveling. It’s understandable – there’s so many incredible sites to see / things to do in the places that you’re heading to, it would feel like a crime to not make the most of it.
But that’s just it – to make the most of your journey, you want to make sure you have enough time to enjoy the things that you actually do. This is one of those cases where the phrase “less is more” can often become true. You simply never know which way life will pull you, and it is more than likely you will meet people along the way (hopefully through Wander!) and you will need more time allocated for your planned activities than you had first thought.
Feel free to prioritize your initial plan – that way, if unexpected adventures arise, you can make an informed decision on which activities to let go in order to make room in your schedule. And for those “lost” activities… just think of it as having another reason to return!
3. Overlooking the logistics
■ When we’re excited, it’s easy for us to focus on the big, colorful pictures and ignore the small print that is often hidden underneath. However, you don’t want to get caught out when it’s too late and hinder your adventure.
As boring as it may sound, it’s important to make the relevant checks for every country you’re hoping to visit. Requirements differ depending on your nationality / what other countries you’ve visited prior to your trip, and so be sure to do your due diligence (this is the case for visas and vaccinations). Do this well in advance of your trip, as some of these processes can take a great deal of time.
Speaking of time, be sure to pay attention to time zones when it comes to booking transport or making any reservations – it sounds so simple but is far more commonly overlooked than you think! One minute you’re heading to your connecting flight, and the next minute you find out it had left before you had even landed… don’t let this be you!
4. Not checking local customs
■ As humans, we often have a habit of thinking “our way” is the “right way.” Of course, if everyone feels this way, then there is no one right way! This is especially true for our local customs. No one’s traditions or beliefs are inherently right or wrong, but we should respect them regardless of where we are.
It’s important to spend a little time doing some research on this before you travel to a destination – something that you do in your day-to-day life may be considered offensive in another culture. For example, in Japan, you want to be sure to take off your shoes (but not socks!) when entering someone’s house and leave them by the door.
In some countries, even wearing certain colors on certain days can be considered unlucky, so remember to check local customs before you pack your luggage! As always, be sensitive to others and keep an open mind. If you’re lucky, you might even find a new tradition that you wish to take home with you!
5. Only abiding by the travel guides
■ Although we often do extensive research for the best things to do in our desired destinations, it’s important to stay open to the possibilities of doing what is not necessarily “the norm” suggested by everyone else. It’s extremely common for locals to know a great deal about their area that travel guides / books fail to mention.
It’s understandable – it would be impossible for a published guide to list every single feature about a location. Locals will know about hidden gems that even experienced travelers might not have heard of. So, be open to taking tips from those you meet along the way and allow yourself to stray from your planned itinerary (all whilst remaining safe, of course).
If you ask anyone who loves traveling, it’s almost guaranteed they will tell you that their most treasured and favorable memories are those spontaneous adventures they had no idea existed until they were there.
If you find that you make any of these mistakes whilst traveling, don’t be ashamed or upset. Most of us have made a lot more than just one of them! What’s more important is that we learn from our mistakes. We then take these learnings to help prevent others from making the same mistakes we once did. Mistakes help us to learn, and as we learn, we grow.
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