Everyone loves to share their travel tips, you know, the stuff you should do. But what’s less talked about is the stuff you shouldn’t do.
And yet nearly every traveler has made one or all of these missteps at some point, whether it ended up being a major annoyance or a minor catastrophe.
Learn from our misfortune by identifying and avoiding these 10 common travel mistakes.
We get it, you don’t want to forget something you might need. But you’ve got to chill a little bit with the bulging suitcases, friend.
Not only does overpacking add extra stress and effort to your trip – since you’re having to lug around extra, bigger bags – those nasty baggage fees can add up if you’re not careful.
Packing the Wrong Shoes
That being said, make sure you do bring the right pair(s) of shoes. For starters, you’re probably going to be walking a lot, so you’ll want something comfortable and durable.
We know that new pair of kicks you bought look really stylish, but the last thing you want to do is break them in on a multi-mile jaunt through Mexico.
And of course, make sure to bring shoes to accommodate your activities, if necessary, whether that’s a pair of hiking boots for the trails, water shoes for that remote Jamaican waterfall, or just your favorite flip flops for lounging on the beach.
Travel already costs enough as it is, so there’s no reason to go around overpaying for flights, accommodation, food, or trinkets.
Shopping for travel deals may be a little less familiar than shopping for deals at the supermarket or at your favorite mall, but it’s actually just as easy. But you’ve got to look for it. In fact, the biggest cause of overpaying is a lack of basic research, which leads us to our next point.
Not Doing Your Research
What is this, a school assignment?
We get it: not everyone are travel nerds like us, who love researching destinations and itinerary and travel deals for hours at a time. But hey, you’re reading this article, right? So, we know you can tolerate at least a little bit of research.
And that little bit can go a long way. Not only will it help you make the most out of your money, it’ll help you avoid many of the other mistakes on this list, whether it’s not knowing visa requirements or not familiarizing oneself with the local customs and culture before visiting a foreign country.
You know, scheduling an endless amount of activities into your daily travel itinerary doesn’t actually break the space-time continuum, allowing your vacation to last forever. In fact, it’s kind of stressful, and could cause you to miss out on some of those sites you really wanted to see.
So, keep your schedule realistic. You can always squeeze something else in last minute if you have time.
Not Getting Your Documents in Order
Passport, visa, plane ticket, boarding pass, hotel booking, itinerary, travel insurance, etc. Like research, we get that documents and paperwork don’t exactly scream “vacation”, but they’re a necessary part of getting to your destination.
Plus, these days, you don’t even need physical “paperwork” for a lot of these things. Just email it to yourself or pull it up on an app. Just make sure it’s all there. And if you’re traveling internationally, that your passport has at least 3 to 6 months of validity left, and you’ve got your visa covered, whether you had to apply for one beforehand or get an exemption at the border.
Never Leaving the Tour Group or Resort
Hey, if your idea of travel is an all-inclusive package, where everything is planned out for you in advance and you never leave the tourist path or your group, that’s fine. Do what makes your vacation enjoyable for you.
That being said, a lot of people follow this itinerary simply because they don’t know anything different. They don’t know where to go – or they’re nervous about doing so.
But that’s part of the fun of travel. Some people have more tolerance for the unknown than others, but nearly everyone can benefit from checking out a place that’s not in the guide, ducking into a hole-in-the-wall local spot for some food, or chatting up the locals a bit.
Traveling During Peak Season
There’s nothing that makes you feel the wonder of an exotic, picturesque location like huge crowds of tourists snapping furiously away on their cameras or smartphones, eh?
Now, sometimes the “off-season” is the off-season for a reason. It’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s rainy, or dry. But if you can at least avoid the absolute peaks of the high season, you’ll not only have better views and more peace and quiet, you’ll probably save a little money too.
Not Getting to the Airport on Time
This might seem like a “duh” moment – but many otherwise intelligent people (who don’t fly a lot) simply underestimate how early they need to get to the airport.
For instance, if you’re checking a bag or three, you need to be at check-in at least 45 to 60 minutes before your flight, since that’s the latest that most airlines will accept bags. Then there’s the security screenings, passport control, walking to your gate, and other seemingly quick things that start to add up. Not to mention the unexpected snafus that can pop up.
The typical recommendations are to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before domestic flights and 3 hours before international. Frequent travelers may opt to cut this closer, but it’s always better to be on the safe side.
Expecting Everyone to Speak English
Guys, when you’re in a foreign country, the locals are going to speak a foreign language, whether that’s Spanish, Romanian, or whatever it is British people speak. You what, mate? Just kidding, Brits.
Now, sure, it’s nice, probably even expected that the people working at your fancy hotel or your tour guide will speak some basic English. But outside of that, there are no guarantees. And even the folks that do speak English aren’t going to speak it perfectly.
And that’s perfectly fine. Part of the fun of travel is experiencing new languages and cultures, so don’t fight against it, embrace it.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories