Even the most seasoned travelers (myself included) have fallen prey to travel blunders over the years. From dining at bland tourist traps to getting lost, to even tipping 50 dollars instead of 50 pesos – mistakes are bound to happen. Here are a few of the most common (and easily fixed) mistakes travelers make.
Saving Money at the Expense of Time
Don’t book that flight with three stopovers just to save $200, when it will eat into 36 hours of your journey. Think you want to take the local transit instead of a short taxi ride? Be certain you’re well versed with the directions, stops, and duration of your travel – it’s often far longer (and more complicated) navigating public transit in foreign countries, especially if you don’t speak the language. That being said, public transit is often a great way to travel as the locals do, see different parts of a particular city, and immerse yourself in local culture. Just make sure it doesn’t take all day.
Having an Overly Ambitious Itinerary
I get it, if you’ve never been to Europe it may be tempting to want to hop on the Eurail and see 18 countries in 14 days, but I would strongly discourage it. Not only is it exhausting, but you also don’t get the true sense of a destination without immersing yourself in it, and this takes time. Paris is so much more than the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysee, and New York much more than just the island of Manhattan. Spend some time really getting to know a particular country, city, or region, and you’ll come away richer for it.
Never Leaving the Tourist Areas
Of course, when you travel to Rome you want to see the Colosseum or take a walk through Times Square when visiting Manhattan. But that doesn’t mean you need to stick to the major attractions only. The areas closest to world-famous attractions often have overpriced (and under-seasoned) restaurants catering to tourists and don’t showcase local culture the same way other neighborhoods do. By all means, take in all the attractions, but take some time to explore further afield and visit some neighborhoods that are filled with restaurants, shops, and markets that locals use regularly.
Never Leaving Your Comfort Zone
Great things happen outside your comfort zone, and this applies to travel especially. Sit at an old bar alone in a small town, and chat with the locals. You’ll learn far more about local life and culture than you could ever read in a travel guide. Hop on that zipline above a canopy of trees, even if you’re scared of heights. Pushing yourself out of what you would do in your day-to-day life is part of what makes travel so memorable, and gives you the stories that you’ll share for years after you get back home.
If you snap away on your iPhone everywhere you go, make sure you have the photos backed up to the cloud, or synced with Google Photos. The last thing you want is to lose all of your travel memories if your phone gets lost or stolen.
With connectivity being a priority of so many travelers, consider getting a decent travel plan that gives you some data for checking emails, texting friends or family, or even going on social media while away. The last thing you want is to return home to a hefty phone bill.
Be sure to inform your credit card company of any major impending travel you have, if you don’t want your account flagged and frozen for possible fraud charges. While you’ve got them on the phone, it’s worth finding out what the foreign currency transaction fees are on purchases abroad.
If you are going somewhere with a different currency, exchange some money in advance at your local bullion, which often has better rates than the airport or private exchange companies in the tourist zones.
Glitz & Glam Can Backfire
Don’t be a walking target for pickpockets and criminals. Depending on where you’re going, you may wish to wear stand-in jewelry for your engagement or wedding ring – or omit them altogether. Ask your travel advisor about local culture, customs, and crime wherever it is that you’re going, and decide from there if you need to bring along your Louis Vuitton bag or 2-carat ring, it may draw unwelcome attention.
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