“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain
Check out my first blog on common mistakes here
We all make mistakes, but the only thing we can do is learn from them and keep on keeping on. That’s what this blog is for. I want to help anyone I can with mistakes I’ve made or ones I’ve learned about from others to make it easier for everyone else on their travels.
1. Not Researching Travel Options: Many people book their flights and only realize once they get to a city that they have no idea what the best option is to get from place to place. Do you take the bus? Train? Uber? Walk? There are so many options depending on where you are. Researching beforehand (especially if you do not speak the local language) can save time and keep the stress levels low.
2. Not Reading Reviews: Always take reviews with a grain of salt, but if there are overwhelmingly awful reviews for something like a hotel or Airbnb the general advice I would give is to keep searching. If you’re doing something dangerous such as SCUBA diving or bungee jumping definitely research the company and reviews on multiple sites. A company’s personal websites are not going to advertise their bad reviews so make sure to check a couple of websites so you know you’re getting the most out of your experience.
3. Putting Medications or All Valuables in a Checked Bag: Lost baggage happens every day. Some airport employees might even steal something from your bag. If you’re bringing valuable jewelry, wear it. Do NOT put all of your cash or credit cards in one space. Be creative about where you put it, but also remember where you’ve hidden it. If you have medication that you will absolutely need such as an inhaler keep it in your carry on just in case of worst-case scenarios.
4. Not Having A Visa: Check your state departments website as well as the country’s where you will be going. You can get turned away at the airport without ever setting foot officially in the country. Some countries allow you to get them when you arrive, but many require pre-authorization.
5. Not Printing Out Itinerary or Booking Details: Let’s face it, your itinerary and hotel addresses/phone numbers are not the most exciting part of your trip. BUT after you spend hours on a plane and finally make it to your destination and you realize you have no wifi connection and don’t remember the hotel address and it’s the middle of the night you might (definitely) will wish you had some information printed out just in case. It also helps to show a taxi driver an address just in case of a language barrier.
6. Not Having Your Hotel Address On You At All Times: I get lost really easily. It takes me a few days to get completely comfortable and oriented in a city. Some people can look at a map once and know where everything is, but in my experience, they are one in a million. It helps to have the extra security of knowing the address of where you’re staying so you can get directions or if you feel unsafe you can easily get an Uber or taxi back.
7. Spending All Your Time In Transit: Let’s be honest. You didn’t come to another country to tour their public transportation. Make sure you plan where you’re staying and what you want to do accordingly. Don’t stay on one side of the city when everything you want to see is a 30-minute bus ride away or longer. You want to maximize the fun and minimize the boring bus rides.
8. Rushing: Sometimes there’s not enough time to see everything even though you want to cram every single piece of each country in one trip. Prioritize what you want to see and ( I hate to say it) leave out those that you won’t be heartbroken to miss. Rushing through everything and not stopping to enjoy and let what you’ve been seeing sink in misses the point of traveling and appreciating another culture or city. Plus rushing leaves no room for spontaneity or finding something amazing locally that you had no idea was there and you would have missed if you were rushing from one site to the next.
9. Not Making Copies of Important Documents: Make copies of your passport, identification, insurance cards if you need/used them, vaccination records (some countries will not let you in if you’ve come from certain areas and don’t have the proper vaccines or proof of vaccines). Whether you have a digital or paper copy it’s always safer to lean towards being over prepared. Let’s say you lose your passport. While having a copy will never have the same power as your actual passport, but it will prove you had one to begin with and make the process of replacement much easier.
10. Being Culturally Insensitive: Every culture has something that makes another do a double take. Wearing a mini skirt or tank top in some cultures is seen as offensive especially if you are visiting a site with religious connections. Some countries are more offended when others invade their personal space. In Thailand, it is a criminal offense to disrespect the monarchy and you may even get yelled at if you drop a bank note and step on it to keep it from drifting away because you would be stepping on the monarchy’s face. Do your research before you go if you are unsure. Some countries will even arrest you for certain actions so it’s always best to check out local laws and customs before you unknowingly offend someone or find yourself in trouble.