Life is full of mistakes, and when Murphy’s Law is at work, there’s no way everything will go smoothly. But that’s life, and we learn and be better with every tumble.
When traveling, we are often caught up in a rush, and that means errors are bound to occur and we make (or forget to make) decisions that should help us. Like how we forgot to renew our passport until we tried to check in at the airport, only to realise to much dismay that we were not quite set to go? Like how we’d travel all the way to a place of interest, only to find out they were closed for the day?
Here are some of the 11 Travel Mistakes That People Make, and how we should be more wary so as to prevent them from happening to us!
#1 FOLLOWING GUIDE BOOKS BLINDLY
Guide books usually point you to the very touristy spots. Good and bad. It does not mean that they are always right since these places are often too populated and mainstream.
Tip: Having a travel plan of your own allows you to venture into places you may never find in these books. Perhaps, you can mark down some places that your guide books recommend, and do more search online on the places that people go to. There are many articles online that share about more local experiences, as well as hidden gems.
#2 NOT CHECKING OPERATING HOURS
Checking up on the operating hours – be it restaurants, attractions or even transport ticketing counters – is so vital. Trust us on this, it is an absolute downer to travel far and wide to a destination you desperately want to visit, only to realise that they are close.
Tip: When working on your itinerary, check the web for the various operation hours so as to facilitate your planning. And when you are at the country/ city, call up a day before to make sure there is no change in the timing because sometimes, places/ restaurants can be closed at the last minute to cater to an event.
#3 NOT FACTORING QUEUE TIMES
Similarly, factoring in time to queue for attractions/ entrances is equally important, especially for popular places like museums, theme parks and places of attractions such as Colosseum or Eiffel Tower. Failing to do so might screw up your travel schedule for that day, and you might even have to forgo other activities/ places on your itinerary.
Tip: There are often tips and articles online that share the average and approximate waiting time to each attraction/ place. Do your research well while planning your itinerary, and for popular tourists’ attractions, buffer a little more time in between so that you won’t have to rush through enjoying yourselves.
#4 NOT FACTORING TIME FOR INTERCITY TRANSFERS
Time management is crucial especially when you are doing intercity transfers. Some transport timings are extremely punctual, down to the last minute. Not allocating enough time for intercity transfers might cause you to miss a train or bus ride which will mess up your travel plans for the day. You might in turn, have to waste extra money or time to get on the next transport out.
Tip: Always go to the station/ airport earlier. It may sound cliche, but people don’t do it enough, resulting in them missing their flights/ trains. Do also check the road conditions and if you need more traveling time to get to the station/ airport, then set off even earlier.
#5 NOT CHECKING THE WEATHER FORECAST
Checking the weather forecast on a daily basis is more important than you think. It enables you to plan your outfits beforehand, or to remind yourselves to bring along an umbrella, or to even re-schedule your activities for the day. Of course, failing to do so means lots of unwanted surprises along the way, e.g. not being able to scale the Sydney Harbour Bridge or visiting your favourite theme parks due to the snowstorm.
Tip: Always check the weather forecast a week before your trip, and for more precise accuracy, check the weather forecast for the next day every night before you sleep. It is as simple as that and it takes less than a minute to do so.
#6 NOT GETTING DATA/ SIM CARDS
SIM cards with data or wifi routers are so essential if you are on planning to navigate around on your own. Yes, you might be thinking that it is only wise to cut away from the rest of the world while you are on a holiday, but there is always a way to limit contact if you want to. If you have no connection to the Internet, you have to spend extra time finding routes and (probably) getting lost.
Tip: For most big cities, there are various data cards available for purchase at the airport, main train stations, telco stores and sometimes convenience stores. Do your research to know your options. Different operators also have different packages to suit different needs.
#7 NOT TAKING ON NEW ADVENTURES
As they say, you only live once. But that does not mean that you forgo all safety precautions and try to get yourself killed. Taking on new adventures does not have to be dangerous. What it truly means is to have the audacity to try on new things which you can never do so in your own country, and to attain an experience you will never truly forget.
Tip: Look to the Internet for inspirations and suggestions on what you must not miss out on at every country/ city. Instagram will usually tell you a lot as well, especially if you do a generic search via the location geotag.
#8 UNDERPACKING OR OVERPACKING
Well, this depends on where you are going to. Both ways ain’t gonna be nice. Underpack and you would end up scrambling for necessities that can’t be bought from the country/ city you are taking your holiday in; overpack and you might end up with little or no allowance for shopping, or even exceeding your baggage allowance.
Tip: Always plan meticulously. It is worth the extra time taken to plan for all that you are going to bring. If you are going for a beach vacation with no direct access to malls and drug stores, then we say you bring along whatever you can’t live without and bring extra clothes. If you are taking a holiday in a city, then no problems at all – just do without whatever and you can probably get them from wherever you are anyway.
#9 OVERSPENDING ON YOUR CREDIT CARDS
It is tempting to charge everything to your credit cards when you are on a holiday. But it is no fun going home and realising that you have overspent, or that you have incurred additional credit card charges.
Tip: Adjust your credit limit before every trip so that you are literally spending within your means. Also, always choose to pay with cash unless you are running low on cash, or if using credit cards allows for a certain discount.
#10 OVER ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT YOUR HOTELS
Pictures may be deceiving, and most hotels try to glorify their rooms and make it seem oh-so-tempting to stay in. But you might realise with dismay that the actual room is far from what was pictured and marketed; shit happens sometimes, and that’s life.
Tip: It is always important to refer to more than one site for alternative photos and galleries. You can also use Instagram or personal blogs that showcases real-life pictures taken by guests themselves. Also, be sure to read reviews as they are a preview of what you are going to expect.
#11 RUSHING FOR LAST MINUTE FLIGHTS
Some flights and train schedules are scheduled at ungodly hours, and people always miss them. Just because. It is not funny if it happens, because you incur costs that are no small sums – from no-show fees to rebooking your new ticket.
Tip: Always give yourselves ample time to travel from your last destination (be it hotel or from another airport/ train station) to the next point of boarding. Know that even airport shuttle buses between terminals may have intervals of as long as 30 minutes. Sometimes, it might be better to put up at the airport hotel so as to not miss your flight.