Traveling can be a wonderful experience, and regardless of what happens, it’s always an adventure.
Unfortunately, some of that adventure can also include mishaps on the road. While many incidents are simply unavoidable, you can easily prevent several common mistakes with a little common sense and preparation beforehand.
What are some of the most common travel mistakes people make, and how can they be avoided?
The essence of hassle-free traveling begins before you even leave – with your packing list. A lot of people make their travels needlessly difficult by taking everything but the kitchen sink, perhaps because they don’t know any better. Extra items become dead weight at the bottom of the pack that gets dragged through each new destination.
To avoid this, pack items that you already use every day, and include versatile, unique items – almost anything else you may have forgotten can be picked up at your destination.
Clothes take up the bulk of your packing space; pack lightweight, versatile pieces that can be layered and mixed and matched easily, and be open to the idea of doing laundry more frequently so you won’t have to pack as many changes of clothes.
Clothing or not, if you consider every single item on your list, there are probably quite a few that you could do without.
2. Lack of planning/preparation
Missed flights. Booking mistakes. Declined credit cards because you’re in a new country. Days wasted wandering around aimlessly or getting lost. Getting turned away at a foreign checkpoint. Sure, incidents like these can happen without warning as well, but they are more often the unfortunate result of poor planning or preparation.
To ensure you make the most of your next adventure, do some research and general planning before your trip so you have a rough outline of what you want to do when you arrive. You can’t plan for every contingency, but reading up on items like your destination country’s immigration laws and local customs and points of interest, as well as squaring away reservations and must-see or must-do places/activities, is a great start.
TIP: Especially if you’ll be on the road a long time, travel insurance is a great thing to pick up. You may not end up needing it, but if something happens, you’ll be glad you have it. It’s only a few extra dollars per day for peace of mind.
On the flip side, it’s possible (and often all too easy) to overplan and schedule an ambitious itinerary, only to find yourself exhausted by the end of your third day in a new place. Trying to move too fast can turn your trip days into a physically and mentally taxing blur. Travel should be a personal journey, but FOMO (the Fear Of Missing Out) and other factors can make you force yourself to see and do way more than you can handle.
Avoid getting burned out by traveling more slowly, giving yourself time to really explore and get to know a new country or city at your own pace.
Set aside off-days, especially after days of more strenuous activities. It’s all too easy to forget about your own well-being on the road – always fuel your body with the proper foods, stay well-hydrated, and find the time and routine to rejuvenate yourself.
4. Running out of money
Nobody wants to have to go back to a normal life after traveling for a long period of time, but an even bigger nightmare is running out of money on the road. It can be frightening to be in a foreign place and discover that your savings are completely wiped out.
To prevent yourself from even running out of money in the first place, set a strict daily budget, stick to it, and monitor your bank accounts closely. Or, better yet, work while you travel!
If you find your funds rapidly dwindling, step back and take a deep breath – whether it’s asking close friends or family to help you with an emergency loan or picking up short-term work to replenish your bank account, there’s always a way. Whatever happens, try to make sure you have at least enough to pay for a way back home.
5. Staying on the beaten path
It may seem cliché, but there certainly is some truth to the value of taking the roads less traveled and avoiding touristy stuff. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with doing all the things associated with “tourists”, few would disagree that being a “traveler” inspires more personal development and is more conducive to getting through long periods of time on the road.
There’s a certain vibe about touristy areas that dilutes the local way of life and isn’t as authentic as getting away from it all and immersing yourself in the local culture. It may be out of your comfort zone, sure, but I guarantee you’ll come away from it with an unforgettable travel story.
Yes, taking a little time to properly plan, pack, and budget for a trip before the big day arrives can save you a lot of future headaches, hassle, and careless mistakes. Always putting your needs first will ensure that you are always in prime condition, ready and able to make the most of your adventures.
And while there’s nothing wrong with being a tourist every once in a while, never forget that some of your most memorable adventures on the road can only be found off that proverbial beaten path.