Everyone wants to make the most out of their trip, but it’s impossible to make mistakes. You either want things to go perfectly so you schedule every outing down to the last second, or you don’t plan anything and you end up feeling like you wasted time. Here are some mistakes every traveler makes now and again. Take them into consideration next time you plan your big trip!
11. Staying on the outskirts of town to save money
Some people make this move in order to rent their own transportation for their trip, but if the money you save in lodging allows you to rent a car, why wouldn’t you just stay in the city and take advantage of the public transportation?
Staying in the city usually means you’re surrounded by historic buildings, museums, and restaurants. You’ll also get some beautiful sights and you’ll always be minutes away from the most popular hot spots. Bonus: you’ll always be close wherever you’re staying so a quick nap before the next activity is always an option.
10. Paying for things you can get for free
Instead of paying for a tour, look up walking tours that are free and that can be found in many cities. These walking tours are great because they’re usually run by locals who can take you to some secret spots you never would have discovered otherwise.
You can also look up the sites around the cities and see if there are any specials that run during the week. The Louvre, for example, is open for free on the first Sunday of the month. Some aquariums and zoos also offer free or reduced admission during certain seasons. Research the city you plan on visiting thoroughly before you book your trip.
9. Not reading user and customer reviews
Most tourists read reviews for the hotels they stay in, but they don’t think about reading the reviews for sights they want to visit or the restaurants they’re planning on eating at. If you’re going to spend money anywhere, you need to know what to expect.
There are plenty of travel sites that will allow you to look up anywhere you plan on going so you can get the lowdown on your city. Look up the small, niche places like cool gift shops, local coffee houses, and famous churches.
8. Taking a lot of stuff
It’s hard to refrain from packing a ton of clothes. After all, you’re thousands of miles from your closet so you want to know that you have options. However, a heavy bag is a pain to lug around, and it’s frustrating when you realize you over packed.
Consolidate your outfits: Bring things that will mix and match, like t-shirts and jeans. Bring a good pair of walking shoes, and if you’re going somewhere it might get cool, bring a large shawl. It can be work as a scarf or tied around your waist if you don’t need it.
7. Taking only cash or only credit cards
If you only take one of the two, then losing one will mean you have no means of affording something. If you’re taking cards, be sure to call your bank ahead of time and let them know you’ll be traveling out of the area so they don’t cancel your card and block charges.
Read online forums to find out where the best currency exchanges are. You’ll want to bring enough cash for certain items, but don’t only rely on cash. You shouldn’t be traveling with thousands of dollars on you anyway!
6. Avoiding strangers and not speaking to locals
First and foremost, you should always be safe when you travel. Use your gut instinct and keep an eye out for people who are targeting tourists. That being said, don’t avoid the locals or other tourists. You never know what fun may lie ahead if you make a new friend.
People are likely to show you around and give you the heads up on some cool places if you’re friendly and interested in exploring. There are a lot of opportunities to meet people where you’re staying, so don’t miss out on the chance to make a friend for a few days!
5. Trying to fit everything into one trip
As ideal as it would be, it’s impossible to fit everything in one city into a single trip. We usually suffer from “I need to see as much as possible since I may not come back” syndrome, and we end up trying to pack everything into our days, which can burn any tourist out, really fast.
Give yourself time in a city, especially if you’re city-hopping. Give yourself at least two days and one night to see all the top places on your list and to try all the foods you’ve been hearing about. Just remind yourself that it’s impossible to do it all and focus on the things you really feel are important.
4. Traveling in the high season
Think about the time of year you are going to see certain cities. Crowds can often spoil the view of wherever you’re going, and no one wants to end up in a city of tourists. Try to go in the least popular season.
For example, if you go to Europe in the fall, you may miss out on some of the summer activities and festivals, but it would be ideal if you’re looking to avoid big crowds of camera-wearing tourists. If it’s scenery you care most about, consider spring over winter. If the cold doesn’t bother you because you’re looking for a food and museum experience, figure out which city will have the most options to offer you.
3. Not buying tickets online
Thanks to wi-fi, you can still access a lot of sites on your phone while you’re away without burning up data. A lot of popular locations are bound to have long lines, so do whatever you can to avoid them by looking up their details online.
Places like The Louvre and The Statue of Liberty can have lines that go on for hours and wrap around buildings. Most places have a line you can go into if you’ve already purchased your ticket. Check the website for their ticket-purchasing options and take advantage of the time you save that can be put towards another activity.
Everyone loves getting souvenirs from their friends after they go on a trip. Usually, there are two big groups of tourists in the souvenir area: the ones who buy something tacky or ugly and the ones who buy nothing. But fear not, you don’t have to look for tacky refrigerator magnets with names on them anymore.
Check out local farmer’s markets or flea markets to see what special memento you can get for the people you care about. You can find things for low prices here, and they’re more likely to be made in the city you’re visiting rather than China.
1. Expecting too much from the trip
Try not to fantasize too much about your trip. Make your itinerary and pack accordingly, but let the experience unfold naturally. If you daydream too much about walking the streets of Montmartre and smelling fresh lavender, or expect music to play as you ride your bike through Napoli, you may end up disappointed when neither happens.
Treat your trip like an exploration: each day is a new adventure. Go with the flow, try not to have your day planned down to the minute, and just enjoy being in a city you’ve been hearing about your whole life. Take plenty of pictures so you have memories to look back on.