We all make travelling mistakes. I’m here to tell you which ones you don’t have to make. Start your trip off right by avoiding everything I mention below.
1. Booking Too Far in Advance
Most travellers have been guilty of this at one point or another. Booking every flight, every hostel, and all your trips. This leaves no room at all for meeting new people. The chances are you’re going to meet a group of people who share your interests. You’re going to want to spend time with these people, and ultimately change your plans. Well it’s too late you can’t, you’re booked up.
This mistake was one that I have regretted a few times in my trip, I won’t be making the mistake again.
Top Tip – Maximum book 2 nights in a single place for when you arrive. This gives you flexibility plus the security of knowing where you’re staying.
2. Not Researching the Cheapest Travel Mode
I really do at my age want to travel in comfort, at least most of the time. However this comes at a price. It can cost you more money, and can cost you an experience. If you have a budget, comfort travel is expensive, most places. The experiences you get by travelling cheaply can far outweigh the comfort. Meeting people, local people who have knowledge and stories to share. Not only that you can end up with some great stories of your own.
Top Tip – Your hostel will likely have good prices and good knowledge. Try them first, then ask around or hit the internet.
3. Not Haggling from Day One
Don’t be shy on this one, go in strong. Haggling is an art and the only way to get good is to practice. However don’t be that guy who haggles over the sake of 10 pence. Yes you can save money and you should. Because prices are usually inflated for travellers. But they need the money more than you.
Top Tip – Go in at 10% of asking price and work up from there. If they don’t reach a price you’re happy with, walk away. It works almost 100% of the time.
4. Packing Shit You Don’t Need
We all do it. I was fortunate enough to be the kind of person who plans. I did so much research on what to take with me that I’ve basically got this right from day one. But those 15 t-shirts, 12 pairs of shorts, and 2 litres of shampoo can stay at home.
Top Tip – Do a practice run, try living out of your backpack for 2 weeks before you leave home. You’ll soon find out what you need and what you don’t.
5. Not Scheduling Private Rooms Often Enough
If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.James MichenerHaving your own space is vital to remaining human once you reach a certain age. Though this doesn’t apply to everyone, I do feel this has mental health benefits for everyone. Figure out quickly how often you need your own space. Hostel living can be tough and sharing with 3-22 people all the time can get boring, fast. For me a month is about my limit before I need 2-3 nights by myself.
Top Tip – Sometimes hotels can be cheaper than private rooms in hostels. Often they also come with little extras for a super pamper session.
6. Giving in to Homesickness
The biggest of all travelling mistakes. I did this. I was due to come home because of a wedding. In my infinite wisdom I chose to bring my flights forward. It worked out well for me due to suit fittings etc. But what I’m saying is no amount of homesickness is worth missing out on your adventure. I am now at a point where home isn’t even a thing. It’s not even on my radar anymore.
Top Tip – Keep your reason for travelling in the forefront of your mind. Also ensure you have a busy schedule with people you really get on with.
7. Not Exploring While the Weather is Good
I’ve done this so many times “I’ll go tomorrow”. Only to find out that it’s raining tomorrow. This is something you’re always taught young “tomorrow never comes”. This couldn’t be truer in travelling. Yes I’m away for a long time, and this affords me some time luxury. However don’t be frivolous with your time, use it wisely. If it’s sunny and you want to see something, bloody do it.
Top Tip – In tropical countries the weather forecast is worth basically nothing. Ignore the weather app and follow your instincts for the day.
8. Not Engaging with the Locals
9 times out of 10 the locals want to talk to you. Whether to practice their english, or just because they’re from a culture where you engage with people. Make sure you get stuck in. Some of the best times I’ve had have been from randomly spending an evening with locals, or a day. Evenings having drinks and food, where you can’t even communicate with anything other than sign language. It’s such an incredible experience.
Top Tip – Practice your sign language with every local you meet. Before long you’ll be a pro at communicating non verbally.
9. Eating Too Much Western Food
This for me is one of the biggest travelling mistakes. There are 2 angles to this. Sometimes you need some western food, it grounds you. However don’t get stuck eating it all the time. You’re travelling to experience everything a country has to offer. Food is culture, and by denying yourself this you miss out on a huge aspect of the country you’re visiting. Don’t be scared of trying new things, just do it. I can’t believe the times I’ve spent with people who won’t eat local food because they’re scared. Get stuck in!
Top Tip – Give yourself your home comfort breaks occasionally. But make sure you try lots of local foods, ask your hostel or fellow travellers for food tips. TripAdvisor is great for finding good western food, and okay for local food. Recommendations are better for the latter.
10. Spending Time with People You Don’t Gel With
This is a major offender. You have to get good at reading people when travelling. You have limited time in a place. The last thing you want to do is spend it with someone who sucks the life out of you. Make your excuses and move on. It may sound mean, cruel even. But you will regret not spending time with awesome people who get you and you get them.
Top Tip – Sometimes it can be hard to ditch people. Being nice about it and making your excuses for personal time or already arranged plans can be the easiest way out.
Your Travelling Mistakes
Though this list is not exhaustive. What I’m trying to get at is YOU need to make your travelling experiences worthwhile. Don’t waste time wasting time.
There are many many more mistakes that people make when travelling. What are your top travelling mistakes and the stories behind them? Let me know in the comments below. I love hearing from you.