You arrive at a mountainous area on the equator. It is really chilly, but you look at your suitcase, and you only packed summer clothes since you thought the weather on the equator was only hot. You even have to run out and buy a rain jacket for the downpours.
Or, you are walking down the street in a city you just arrived in. While you walk along the historic district to see the sights, you have your phone in your hand as you ask Google Maps to direct you. Before you know it, someone on a motorcycle rides by you, grabs your phone out of your hand and speeds away. What a way to damper the start of your trip!
Common mistakes while traveling can be avoided with preparation, organization, and, most importantly, common sense. Just realizing that these issues could arise can help you while you are traveling! There are many, but here are 9 of the most common mistakes to avoid.
Being Distracted and Not Being Alert To What Is Going On Around You
Usually, this is because you are on your phone or super focused on what is in front of you and not seeing what is in the back. Thieves can work in groups; one has you occupied while the other is robbing you blind. Be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings close to you when you are on the street, in crowds, and especially on public transportation.
Overpacking or not packing the right clothes
Nowadays, you think twice about the amount of luggage you bring as baggage fees have increased and can make your super cheap ticket look more expensive.
But in reality, it does take experience to learn to pack efficiently. If you think about it, you are going somewhere unfamiliar or out of your comfort zone so usually you think to bring all that you need. Years ago, it was necessary to pack toiletries or certain-sized clothing or shoes, as they were harder to come by, depending on where you traveled to. But in the present time, many products are accessible.
So, going back to the packing, it is best to layer. In some countries you can feel as though there are at least 3 to 4 seasons in one day, depending on the region, the altitude, and the climate.
Taking too little can also feel like an inconvenience, especially if you have to wash your clothes more often.
Ultimately, when beginning out, take what you feel comfortable carrying or moving around with on your trip. There is no judgment; in the end, you will get better at it with time!
Not Familiarizing Yourself With Exchange Rates And How To Exchange Money
It is a common uncertainty: what it is in the country you are traveling to, how to carry it, how much to take it, or even take any at all—researching the currency of where you are traveling to can save you much time and money. As the currency's value changes daily, when you change money from your currency to where you are traveling, how much money you will receive depends on what the rate is that day.
Since nowadays you can travel and use your ATM and credit card, you don’t need as much cash as before. This is if you charge most things, have your hotel or Airbnb paid for, etc. Remember to take some money for some of the following:
- Tipping (if that is a common practice where you are traveling to)
- The markets where you buy fruits and vegetables
- The bread shops
- Small stores
Let credit card companies know of travel plans. Many people do not tell their bank or credit card companies they are traveling. When this happens, the bank could see a purchase as fraud since it is from abroad.
Sometimes credit cards with larger or national banks have fewer problems than those from smaller or local banks or credit unions.
Traveling To Dangerous Areas
Another place to register with or let know you are traveling is your country’s embassy in the country to where you are traveling. With this, you also get alerts on places to avoid and what is happening in the country that you may not know about, especially if you don’t speak the language. (An excellent point to remember is that you can call your embassy also if you have emergencies and need assistance).
Locals will also tell you where the areas to stay away from are. Find a news source in your language where you are, and pay attention. Living or traveling in a bubble and not adapting to your surroundings can make you naive. Make sure the person telling you where and where not to go is someone that can be trusted, so you are not being lured into a complicated situation, which can also affect you safety-wise.
I have a post about safety that is worth reading here.)
Overbooking your schedule
We get it, you have waited for, saved for, planned for, and researched this trip for so long, and you WILL get the most out of it! You want to take advantage of every minute, so you plan to the minute.
True, you want to have a great time and get the fullest out of it. But, not leaving room for a change in plans, delayed flights, jetlag, or being just tired or feeling a little sick could cost you way more than you wanted to pay for.
It is essential to plan and organize but leave room for flexibility. Make sure you take time to keep yourself healthy, too (here I talk more about that). For example, knowing that you could need a few weeks to adjust to the altitude before you do that fantastic hike will make the trek even more spectacular.
While no one wants a trip to be ruined for any reason, a situation you could not have foreseen could come into play, whether that be the weather, politics, or illness. When you have a little extra time, you will always fill it if you want to. Leave some room for spontaneity!
Not Learning the basics of the language
Put a little bit of effort into learning a new language. It shows respect and interest in a different culture. There really is no excuse as it is easy to do with technology. I have some great tips for learning a language here.
Not understanding or respecting local customs and etiquette
Travel can show the true colors of a person, which can be flattering or not. If you think about it, you are so out of your routine and comfort zone you are a FOREIGNER. You don’t have the same rights or laws to follow.
Unfortunately, many people have been given stereotypes when traveling because of how they act in a different land. It is essential for yourself and those around you to show respect for local customs and etiquette.
If you are hiking and an indigenous group believes that the mountain in the center of their land is sacred, respect that and don’t climb it. If you are on the subway and people are chill, don’t be the loudmouth expressing where you partied last night. If locals don’t wear shorts, don’t wear them either. Remember that you are only traveling for some time, but your impression or the impression of your culture that you leave lasts a lifetime. It is hard to change.
Too much emphasis on Social Media
Before life with the internet, there were cameras and books. You wrote and mailed them, trying to express what you had done, felt, or learned.
Times have evolved, and social media can be wonderful or horrible for travel.
It is excellent if it is the way you are keeping in touch, sharing with others who can’t experience what you are. It is terrible in the sense that you can easily forget about the moment, the present. When you are posing for a selfie in front of a parade but not noticing the parade at all, it becomes just superficial. You were there, but you weren’t there. In the museum, you get a photo, but you don’t hear all that the guide explains about the importance of a specific piece. Or you are not meeting and engaging with others, as you are only taking pictures of you with them, and posting it. This takes time away from just being there. Documenting your trip is great, but posting pictures that may or may not express what was going on and how you felt isn’t giving the real story.
A social media detox can be something to look at when you travel, or at least keep it somewhat under control!
there can be other misjudgements…..
While other mistakes can be made when traveling, remember that they are all just mistakes that can be corrected or improved, and come with time and more experience.