Travel can be an incredible experience. You discover new cultures, make new friends, try delicious foods and see amazing sights. But there are also downsides to travel, and many people make mistakes that ruin their trips. Here are some common travel mistakes and how to avoid them.
Prevention is the Best Cure
Just like with your health, prevention is the best cure. Stopping travel mistakes before they happen is much better than dealing with them once they do. Make sure you have travel insurance and know what it covers before you leave. Buy cancellation insurance on your ticket before you click buy, and so forth.
The way to do this is to double-check over your reservations, paperwork, tickets, emails and so on. Even if you think you’re sure you check in on Oct. 5 at the hotel in Phnom Penh it could be Oct. 6 and you don’t want to be that person scrambling at 1 a.m. to find somewhere for you and your suitcase to spend the night. Double check ahead of time and enjoy travel with less stress.¹
Packing Like a Maniac
One of the most common travel mistakes happens before you even leave the departure gate: over packing. Not only can it result in extra charges, it makes it an absolute pain to get around wherever you’re going and it means you’re going to have to keep track of so many more items that your trip will be like running a museum.
Pack only what you need. Make a list with a few changes of clothes. Go digital for books. Then scratch a few things off your list and take even a little bit less than you think you need. If worst comes to worst you can always buy an extra t-shirt or pair of shorts at your destination: think of it as a souvenir.²
Wanting to See – and Do – Everything
When you travel somewhere there can be a temptation to “collect” experiences and sights and activities. You’ll sometimes here people say they “did” a country, reinforcing this mentality like you are passing the level of a video game or racking up points that add up into your travel resume.
The truth is that if you try to cram everything into your trip you’re going to end up exhausted and not enjoy what you do see and do nearly as much. Take time to savor the experiences whether you’re chilling on the beach in Cozumel or hiking through Switzerland. Remember: the journey is the destination.³
Getting Blindsided by Your Smartphone
Smartphones may be smart, but not all travelers are smart. It’s very important to check – and fully understand – your cellphone plan prior to traveling abroad. Roaming charges can get awfully expensive and blindside you in the middle of a trip that’s otherwise going perfectly well. Honestly it’s enough to ruin the perfect trip. Look into your cell phone plan and make sure you have unlimited roaming included abroad so you can enjoy your traveling instead of stressing about how to call AT&T and work out your phone charges from your guesthouse in rural Italy.⁴
Show Me the Money
This tip is going to seem obvious, but it’s absolutely crucial to remember. Like pretty much everything else, travel takes money. You can get by on the kindness of strangers or couchsurfing to an extent – for sure – but sooner or later you’re going to need to shop, take a train or plane and otherwise come up with the money.
Make sure you create a budget for your trip and stick to it. Don’t exchange your money at the airport, do it ahead of time at your bank if possible where the rate will be much better or in your destination at a regular place in the city. Keeping track of your money and having some set aside for emergencies will make your trip much better.³