Travel can be exhilarating, exciting...and a nightmare. I've learned that anything that can go wrong when travelling or leading up to a trip will go wrong. Here are 10 travel mistakes I've made and how I learned from them.
1. Not Bringing a Pen The number of times I've had to ask a flight attendant or fellow passenger for a pen shouldn't be as high. I remember breaking into a sweat when the immigration forms were handed out on my way from New York and London and I couldn't fill them out. Also, germs travel on items touched by several people (ie. a PEN!) so bring your own and save yourself the hassle.
2. Not getting a cell phone plan If you have the financial means to get a cell phone plan, do it! To some, buying a cell phone plan for a vacation seems frivolous but when travelling alone and as a woman, it's been worth it for me. I'm happy I have an unlocked phone that I can use internationally and switch up my SIM card as needed.
3. Not learning basic phrases/language skills I definitely got by in Montreal and Paris with my rusty French and made a whole lot of hand gestures in Spain, but I really should have studied my destination's mother languages a bit more. The joy of learning a new language is only surpassed by using it with local people. This also gives you the flexibility to explore unbeaten paths without the anxiety of getting stuck (especially without Google translate or maps available).
4. Not Setting Aside more Time I'm breaking the habit of procrastination. The addictive habitual state of putting-off travel things until the last minute (reviewing my itinerary, packing, re-packing, buying important items) is something I'm definitely guilty of. Or doing my hair last minute (not a good idea with natural hair). The worst consequence of procrastinating was overpacking. Thankfully I haven't faced any additional baggage fees as a result of overpacking, but I was definitely angry at myself when traipsing across London (where there were minimal elevators and escalators on the tube) with my stuffed suitcase, carry-on bag and backpack.
5. Not Exploring Enough I don't know about you, but there is only so much roasting on the beach I can do. My mum (my long-time travel partner) isn't a big excursion fan. However, after taking trips that weren't on all inclusive resorts (that baby you into not needing to leave the hotel grounds) I learned how to really vacation outside of the box. Make sure you pick a location where public transportation is accessible then get on out there! I had a great time doing this in Barbados and Barcelona. I wish I had done more research on Scotland, I would have definitely explored some more.
6. Not Raiding the Duty-Free Before my return to Europe last year, I usually hustled past the duty-free to grab a good seat before boarding my flight. However, I purchased some cute things (like my favourite Ted Baker wallet) in the duty-free at Heathrow. I am now a sworn duty-free advocate (just make sure you check how much money and goods you're allowed to bring back into your country)
7. Not getting Good Souvenirs I am a very nostalgic person. Collecting souvenirs has never been on my priority list (probably because I've overpacked way too many times) and because I didn't do enough 'keepsake research'. Looking up what kind of art or products a particular place is famous for (ie. Barcelona and their bomb custom espadrilles) would allow for purchasing worthwhile keepsakes.
8. Not Getting Travel Insurance My trip to China will be my first time purchasing travel insurance! Wild right? After all of the research I've done on travel insurance and knowing how much it would benefit my loved ones, I realized just how crucial it is.
9. Not Printing Off my Documents China is another land of firsts for me. For the first time, I have printed off my travel documents (Visa, travel itinerary and copies of my passport) to carry with me while I explore and leave where I'm staying. This is literally travellers 101: have copies of your documentation.
10. Not bringing enough money Once again with my last minute self, I've gone on trips and vacations without really considering how much money I should bring/setting a budget. There were times I had the opportunity to go on a shopping spree in some fashionable cities (Paris and London) and I wish that I had set more money aside for those trips to ball out a bit.
Have you made any travel mistakes? Share them with me below so we can learn together.