To travel is a beautiful thing; however, whether we're setting out on our first trip or consider ourselves seasoned pros, we're all susceptible to making the odd blunder. From simply choosing a destination and packing a bag to making sense of a menu and navigating transport maps, there’s a barrel load of variables to consider. For the most part things go as planned, but read on to make sure that you don’t find yourself making one of these common mistakes.
1. Trying to Fit Too Many Destinations Into One Trip
We’ve all heard stories of people visiting up to 10 cities while on a 2-week jaunt to Europe. While this may sound great in theory, the actual amount of time spent in the city will be limited by flights, train journeys, and the occasional late arrival. So sit down and decide what the trip priorities are. Read opinions from other travelers about the minimum amount of time recommended for a city. Plan rest days so that you reach the next destination stress-free and get the most out of the experience without being exhausted. And remember that you can always come back; Brooklyn isn’t going anywhere if you didn’t manage to get across the bridge from Manhattan.
2. Standing in Long Lines at Top Attractions
You might be entertained waiting in line for Space Mountain at Disney World but perhaps less so at the Eiffel Tower. There’s nothing worse than turning up to an exciting attraction only to discover an hours-long queue just to purchase tickets. Fear not, though, because these days many of the world’s biggest attractions have fast-tack entry options, which allow you to select a time slot, turn up, and jump straight to the front. Often the attraction’s official website is the best place make reservations. You’ll pay a premium but the time saved is priceless. If the attraction doesn't offer an early check in or online reservation, showing up bright and early is another old-fashioned but useful tip. Getting to the Musee d'Orsay right when they open will save you from the mid-day lines that appear later on.
3. Staying Within Your Comfort Zone
We're all guilty of this one, and who’s to say that finding some home comforts while away is a bad thing? Nevertheless, you wouldn’t want to hear an Italian say that they ate pizza every day while on a culinary adventure in Japan. Combat this by doing things you wouldn’t normally do. Try sitting at the bar in a pub and chat with the locals instead of choosing a table in a quiet corner. Hike to the summit of the Dos Irmãos peaks instead of sipping on caipirinhas at Ipanema when in Rio. There’s also a lot to be said for wandering a few blocks away from Prague’s Old Town Square to find cafés filled with jovial locals that tourists don't typically frequent. The best stories you'll come home with are the ones that gave you new experiences.
4. Being Frugal Rather than Practical
The expression "time is money" applies perfectly when traveling. We don't want to put a negative twist on budgeting, but you should value your time as a travel resource that is just as important as saving a few bucks. Perhaps an airline ticket costs double that of a bus but you could get an extra day in a city. Fast-track tickets could be the difference between visiting one or three top attractions in a day. Similarly, would you expect to be the only one to find out about a free day at a top museum or gallery? If the budget is tight then look for deals on admission fees rather than becoming another member of a slow-moving herd. Be practical, and look for places where you save some money. But don't spend the whole trip more worried about pinching pennies than experiencing the wonders you traveled to see.
5. Letting Your Mistakes Get You Down
Getting shortchanged by a taxi driver, taking a wrong turn, showing up late for a departure and spouting comical nonsense in a foreign language are all potential mishaps. They are also some of finer moments of travel. Rather than dwell on your mistakes, put them to the back of your mind and return to them at the end of the day in an anecdotal manner. Just let it slide - you won’t be the first to call someone a horse (caballo) instead of a gentleman (caballero) in a Spanish-speaking country.
From as early as he can remember Bradley was road-tripping across the UK, France and Spain with his family. Since then he's visited 40-plus countries and lived on four continents. Today he divides his time between Buenos Aires and the beaches of Punta del Este, Uruguay and puts his wanderlust to good use by writing about his travels.