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You might be buzzing with excitement at the thought of venturing outside your hometown for the first time, but also equally plagued with anxiety at leaving all of your creature comforts behind. Just like we make mistakes trying snowboarding or pitching a tent for the first time, traveling isn't something that comes easy. Navigate the world like a seasoned pro by avoiding these rookie traveler mistakes.
Relying Solely on Guidebooks
Don't be that traveler who touts a stack of guidebooks from attraction to attraction. Guidebooks are an excellent introduction to your destination as they give you a brief rundown of a city's most iconic landmarks, but they also point you in the same direction as hordes of other tourists trying to see the same thing. Guidebooks can also become out of date rather quickly, as restaurants and shops close, move, or change their names. Get off the beaten path and discover something for yourself by connecting with other travelers and locals and asking what some of their favorite hangouts are.
Booking Everything in Advance
Although booking all of your accommodations, excursions, and transportation routes in advance might put your mind at ease, doing so leaves little room for spontaneity and making last-minute plans with friends you meet along the way. Plan the major things like your overseas flight or the day trip you plan to take from Vancouver, but reward yourself by allowing flexibility in your schedule. This way, you’re not scrambling to rearrange your itinerary if the weather falters, plus you can enjoy a night out on the town with fellow explorers without having to wake up early the next morning to catch a train.
Weighing Price Against Value
If you're on a budget, you might instinctively default to the cheapest option when presented with a slew of choices for accommodations and restaurants. However, you might be sacrificing convenience. Booking a hostel without WiFi in London might potentially save you $5 per night, but this leads to being constantly on the search for free public WiFi at a Starbucks when you need to look something up. Decide what your time is worth to you and weigh that against your dollars with the understanding that the cheapest option doesn’t always mean the best option.
Assuming Everything Will Run Smoothly
Even when itineraries are planned months in advance, a trip can still go wrong. Your flight could be delayed or canceled or you could get sick. We typically don't plan for these things to happen, but they do anyway. Don’t let things that are out of your control dampen your spirit. By taking things as they come, you'll become a more experienced traveler. These unplanned incidences leave you with lessons of how to navigate flight delays and cancellations, and to simply go with the flow.
Packing Everything You Own
Pack only what you know you’ll use and not what you think you’ll use. Keep in mind that in case you forget to bring shampoo, you can buy it when you reach your destination. This way, you’ll be pumping money back into the local economy and traveling light, which leaves you with room in your backpack for souvenirs. Pack like a pro and take fewer clothing items by bringing along layers that easily mix and match to create different outfits. Always have a fresh change of clothes without overpacking by doing laundry on the road, which can be washed at a hotel or local laundromat.