There are several things that could go wrong before and during a trip and it has happened to the best of us. Here is a quick list of 12 common travel mistakes that everyone makes at one point in their lives.
1. Lack of a budget and an emergency fund.
When it comes to traveling, most people only save up for the actual trip itself. The places to see, the plane tickets and the rental cars are all taken into consideration when creating the budget. What most people miss is the emergency fund. If you are going around the world, make sure you have enough money in the bank to get you from where you are to your home safe and sound in case of emergency. Making a budget is incredibly important, because let’s face it, no one wants to run out of money before their trip is over.
2. Thinking that getting your passport will be a quick process.
Although there are expectations set in terms of when you apply for your passport, plan for extra wiggle room when awaiting its arrival. To be safe, try to make sure you get it about three to four months before your trip. This gives you extra time to provide any more documentation to the agency if they need it and trust us, it happens.
3. Paying extra for packing.
Most airlines charge for the weight of your luggage, so try to keep everything simple. There is no way you are going to wear all six pairs of those shoes that you packed. And jeans can be worn more than once, so there is no need to pack 20 pairs for your week-long trip.
4. Taking too many photos and not living in the moment.
We are all familiar with the knowledge that the digital world is at the touch of our fingertips. We can snap photos of our food, our drinks, what we see and who we are with. We can also all admit that we take too many photos of everything. Take some time away from the camera and live in the moment for a little while, and create some memories in your brain for yourself and just take photos if you have time. The social media world will be okay if they don’t get a play-by-play of your trip. You are in a different place, take it all in and come back with more than photos – come back with stories to tell.
5. Forgetting to let your bank know where you’re going.
Most banks have a security precaution that will freeze your account if it is being used in an unfamiliar place, so make things easier on yourself and notify your local bank so they can put a note in the system. Nothing is worse than needing to use your card to pay for your hotel and have it declined in a foreign country.
6. Relying on the tour book you bought at the airport.
Take some time away from the generic tour book that you can buy in the book store and walk around a bit. In Rome, we walked the streets at night and just explored. It was the best feeling to just find your way and discover things using a simple map. Sometimes there are things other than the monuments to see. We ended up stumbling onto a church that was not in our book that was breathtaking. And had we not set aside the generic guide book, we would have never experienced such a sight.
7. Being unaware of the culture and not having an open mind.
When traveling, this is a must! Make sure you do some research on customs and courtesies of the country you are visiting. What is acceptable in your country may be rude in another. For example, in the United States, we are told not to stare growing up as a child. In Germany, it’s like a contest on who can keep eye contact the longest. It isn’t rude whatsoever, it’s just a normal thing. Also, have an open mind, as you are in a new place, so try the food before you judge it (unless you’re allergic, in which case you should go with what is safe).
8. Bringing too many gadgets.
Bringing all your high tech gadgets will put an automatic target on your back for pick pockets. Leave your huge tablet back at the hotel (or home, even) and just bring your phone. There isn’t a really big need for you to carry a cell phone, a tablet, an iPad and your camera all at once. Pick one, maybe two if you must, and enjoy your holiday.
9. Giving up on trying a new language.
Most people appreciate when you try to speak their language. You may not be a professional at it, but that is okay. It is better than being that person that automatically assumes everyone understands English.
10. Putting comfort over experience.
There is an amazing little hotel in Rome called the Hotel Grifo. We could have easily booked another hotel with a larger room and bigger showers, but the reviews for the hotel were more than enough to decide to book.
The experience we had there was amazing. They pulled out a map, showed us all of the tips and tricks and were all together great people. In addition, staying in hostels (though some may be open bay) can open up different opportunities to meet amazing friends and travel buddies. Typically, you pay less and have a lot more fun when you leave the need for a high class hotel out of the equation.
11. Dining in front of the monuments.
You may see a large amount of people (tourists) dining outside of these places, but we can tell you, the food is much better from a mom and pop shop a couple of blocks away. That is not to say that the places outside of the monuments are bad by any means, but the places a bit further away are better and tend to be more affordable (by a lot).
12. Packing too much into a small amount of time.
Trying to rush through things to make sure all the activities on your checklist get done can be hectic. It can even ruin a trip, if you let it. Sometimes, packing your agenda with too many things and with too little time will make your trip feel rushed. Plan activities if you must, but with a lot of wiggle room in case it gets extra fun.