Top 10 Mistakes I Made Through My Traveling And How to Avoid Them
Dear reader, I know the struggle, we all want to travel more than those 20 days of annual leave and sometimes that is just not possible. You love your job and you just want that steady income and all those benefits! I get you, I am with you. I go every day to a corporate job where I work hard and trust me, the moment I log off, it’s holidays time. But, dear reader, I traveled to 32 countries by now in various corners of the world (ok, mostly in Europe, I will not lie) but every new trip, it’s a new world where we all expect that amazing experience while we are on our quest to discover the new conquered land. What we don’t want is to come back home with a bitter taste from the trip – like missing the plane, making a wrong date reservation, or even not making one, or be broke because everything was too expensive. That’s why I hope my past mistakes will help you enjoy whatever travel you might have planned and I hope nothing will jeopardize your dream trips.
1. Airplane connections with not enough transfer time (or too much time)
In the first case, obviously you are at risk of losing the connecting plane. I’ve never missed a flight, but I heard so many travel stories ending up too early because of this. Definitely you don’t want to lose a day just waiting for the next option to fly and also paying for a 2nd ticket, most likely double price (and this is the best case scenario, otherwise, the next flight can be fully booked, and you need to wait even more!)
The other case implies a long halt… And what does a long halt actually mean? In general, you will need at least 8-10 hours to get out of the airport (if no visa is required!) and explore the city. But, dear reader, what if your layover is during the night? There is no way to explore the city, so bear also that in mind. Also, one more question to ask yourself is “Is it a city that you will want to go another time anyways?” if so, you have to think about the costs involved, since for those 10 hours, you might spend around 100 EUR for 2 people.
2. Not knowing how much to spend
Everybody goes on a trip having a certain budget on their mind, right? What happens is that most people, during the trip, don’t really know how much they have spent already. Therefore, my dear, unless you are a freak like me and check every evening how much you spent that day you will wake up stressed about how much you have spent already and how little you have left to spend from now on. I use the Notes app, where I keep track of my expenses because, honestly, I don’t want a weekend in Copenhagen to financially feel like a 3 week holiday in Maldives. Obviously, sometimes, I decide to go above my budget, as new temptations may appear, but it is good to decide something like this by being fully aware of how deep your pocket is. For example, in Lapland, we realized that without a car we cannot go hunt the Northern lights, therefore we have decided to rent a car which was not planned in our initial budget. We did some research to see which is the most convenient company to rent from and we went for it. I am not sorry at all (hashtag noregretshere)- because I got to see the Northern lights 3 times in 7 days, which is huge, since I know people that went 3 times to Lapland without any luck.
3. Keep all your money in one place
My boyfriend (before meeting me – the traveler!) has been in the situation where almost all the money in his group had been stolen. That is very unfortunate and also I know that nowadays, there are so many ways of getting scammed when you try to withdraw money from an ATM – either by not being able to get your card back, either by being so unfortunate that someone scans your pin code and then steals your card etc. That’s why I am telling you : always, when you are in a foreign country, try to withdraw money from a known bank ATM. Also, what I have noticed, do not exchange money in the airport, as the exchange rate is never in our (the travelers) advantage.
4. Infeasible expectations
Dear reader, have you read about Hong Kong? Because here is where I have described how we went to such an extent thinking we have one more day left from the vacation that we started planning all sort of things to do, when, guess what, the hotel called the room to let us know it’s check-out time.
After a few near misses (probably Hong Kong), we've changed our strategy: a few things that we realistically have time to see, then some extras if things go better than expected and have some spare time.
5. Too much luggage
It's not necessarily among the mistakes that will spoil your vacation, but it can be an inconvenience to pack your baggage every day. As a result, the type and size of baggage must be adjusted by travel: if you are taking local buses through Latin America, you shouldn’t take the trolley. When you need to switch many means of transport and go to isolated places, every gram counts. Believe me, I know what I am saying. Though my trip to Croatia, I had to carry my camera and the drone in a shoulder bag, such a mess that even now I think I walk funny because of that.
So I can’t say I am the best at packing, but there are some tricks that work:
a. The rule "Just one ..." goes like this : just one sweater, one hoodie, 1 pair of jeans, 1 pair of sneakers, 1 pair of sandals. I know, "but what if it rains ..." or " but what if my sandals break". If it starts with "but if" it's clear, it's an exception, with little chance of happening, and if it happens, you'll find a creative solution, I know that, dear reader. You're on a holiday, fresh mind, right?
b. The rule "Make a note of what you did not use from each holiday”. Those articles you never used definitely should stay home.
c. The rule "you certainly can handle ¾ of the luggage".
Now this is exactly how life works, challenges always come up and you are always able to come up with a genius solution to solve the problem. So, at the end, I take out a lot of things which I usually don’t miss.
There are, however, a few things that you should not forget about luggage and about which I wrote in the article What not to forget about your vacation? My trip lists.
6. You didn’t do your research well enough
Of course, when you want to do a research the best source is the people who are there / locals so do not hesitate to ask your friends, or your colleagues from the country you are about to visit if you’re as lucky as I am to work in an international environment. This is how I did when I wanted to visit Lithuania – in my team, there is one guy from Vilnius and in the other team there was a girl that also came from there, so I already had 2 independent (and local!) sources. Of course, travel guides, Lonely Planet, Instagram and let’s not forget about blogs, are a great source of inspiration. Always ask the tour guide (if you booked one!) about something you shouldn’t miss, most likely they did already their research for such question.
7. Buying too many souvenirs from everywhere
Dear reader, I have come to a conclusion: the most beautiful souvenirs are the memories I bring back, the holiday pictures and now the articles on the blog. We have a shelf full of souvenirs (not magnets as we don’t have where to stick them, but all sorts of bulky stuff). My boyfriend and I certainly do not want to throw them away, but of course with each general cleaning we look at them a little and promise to stop buying more. Now I collect postcards, and this is very cool, as I have in mind a little project ( I will tell you about it later on!). This doesn’t mean , dear reader, that we should never buy souvenirs, but what I am saying is that it is better to buy something useful or local and unique.
8. Do you know where you are and where are you heading at?
Doh, logically, you would say, as many of us! It's not actually like that, there are various situations so it's better to take some extra safe steps: we usually put reservations in a document and then save it on both our phones. It really helps to find the address in the middle of the night or to get all details if there is a self-checking desk as we had in Vilnius. We had so many codes to enter the building, the office and our room, that felt like we were in a vault. Also, a little advice, especially if you book by Airbnb, make sure you have your host’s number, all details confirmed by the host and get full directions about the accommodation. When I went to Krakow, the apartment I rented got flooded the day before, hence the host provided a different address, for a new accommodation.
9. Going off season
Weather is one of the most important elements on vacation, you do not want to risk sitting with the raincoat all grumpy because you can’t go anywhere. On the other hand, you will not want 40+ degrees either, because the sun will be so strong, you will feel dizzy and it will be impossible to walk and visit the places you want to.
10. Keeping track of your car rental details
This is a 100% mandatory if you have planned a road trip in which you rent several cars. Take care of your reservation details: most companies are quite strict with the details on the booking.
First of all, you need a credit card. Second, the reservation must be on the same name as the credit card and lastly, the credit card should be on the name of the driver, otherwise, you might end up paying for an extra driver for no reason. Easy, right?
We were in Estonia when we planned a road trip through the Baltics, and I barely managed to get out of paying a fine as we had to pay extra for going out of the Baltics area, and that was something interesting to know, especially when you spend a few days in Finland, huh?
Any mistakes you made during your travels that you would like to share? I’d be happy to know I am not the only one that messed up.