We all make mistakes. We mess up, do something stupid, get something wrong, that's just part of life. But what is important is that we learn from our mistakes so we don't make them again. I mean, one slip up can lead to a funny story that you tell your kids one day, but the same slip up again just makes you seem like you may not be the sharpest tool in the shed.
Well, the mistakes you make while traveling should definitely not be repeated!! If anything they should be avoided altogether through lots of research and some extra precautions. Now I'm not saying you're going to be a flawless traveler, those don't exist. You are bound to make some errors in judgment, you wouldn't be a real traveler without some nightmare stories. Trust me, you'll laugh about those mistakes some day! But to give you a little head start and a little extra help, here are some annoying travel mistakes that I have made over the years and my best advice on how to avoid them!
1. Forgetting to inform your bank about your travel plans
Okay so picture this. I'm standing in Budapest, just got off the plane and am headed to the nearest ATM to get some cash because I remember that most places prefer cash over a card. I stick my card in and get one error after another. Before I know it, I check my banking app which I have been now suspended from accessing. It took me hours to finally get a hold of a representative who finally cleared my card for use again. She said that from now on I should tell my bank ahead of time when I leave the country so my card doesn't get blocked again for fraudulent activity. Lesson Learned!
2. Ignoring Travel Insurance
Oh boy, this one I will never forget. Let's just say it involved a resort in the Dominican Republic, an extreme food allergy that I didn't even know I had, a very uncomfortable night of not being able to breathe, and a $500 shot of Benadryl that I had to pay out of pocket because I didn't have a travel insurance. NEVER AGAIN!! Travel insurance is a must. You really never know what may happen or what food you may suddenly be deathly allergic to.
3. Running out of Battery
So this mistake is one that really really sucks. I was in Ireland and was so excited to start taking pictures of the epic cliffs and the famous Game of Thrones sites. Not even an hour into the road trip, my camera dies. I had completely forgotten to charge it and had no extra batteries. Now for those of you who don't care as much about getting the perfect pictures, imagine your phone dying with your map and your directions and having no way to contact anyone for help. Just always make sure you have portable chargers, back up batteries, and a fully charged device before you leave!
4. Having too much planned
You never want to go on a trip and not be able to enjoy it because you have overbooked yourself. So my first day in Rome last year, we got to the hotel, threw our things into the room and immediately went out and about. We spent all day on our feet hauling ourselves all over the city, desperately trying to cram all the sites into one day. It was an awful idea. By the end of the day, we were so jet lagged, sleep deprived, and just overwhelmed that I could honestly not tell you what we had just spent our day doing. Everything was a mashed together blur. So try to spread things out and only go see things that you really want to see. There is such a thing as too much site seeing. Make sure to leave time for some relaxing!
5. Not having a travel budget
So when you travel, obviously you have to pay for the plane ticket and the hotel. But what about everything else? People always forget that daily activities will cost money too!!! When I went to the Dominican a few years ago I was so excited about the awesome travel deal that we got. Our flight, hotel, and all food and drinks came out into one nice and neat package. It was perfect! Until we got there and realized that any excursions were going to be extra and they were pricey. As a bunch of college girls, we ended up only having the money for one day trip. Now I know to always plan ahead when it comes to the add ons in a travel budget.
6. Not using an airplane pillow
If you are like me and don't sleep on airplanes, it is probably because you don't have the right pillow!! It took me 20 years to find the right one but trust me when I say I have never slept better. The Trtl pillow is so convenient and surprisingly comfy. It wraps around your head and your face can just sort of comfortable droop to the side. The mummy in a neck brace look is totally worth it if you can now sleep on a plane! With a little added bonus, the new Trtl Pillow Plus comes with extra padding, super lightweight material, and adjustable height so you can make it sit the way you need it to! Click here to check it out!
7. Giving in to Jet Lag
Okay duhhhh! So obviously jet lag can't be completely avoided but it can be controlled. The worst thing you can do is let jet lag control your trip. One time I arrived in Italy and made the mistake of allowing myself to go back to sleep after my morning alarm had gone off…I ended up sleeping well into the afternoon and missing my entire day in Italy. The key is to power through! If you want some more specific tips, here is the blog I wrote about avoiding jet lag!How to Beat Your Jet Lag
8. Booking a hotel without checking the location
Cities are big. I'm serious, just because your hotel or Airbnb is in the same city that you are wanting to explore does not mean that it is anywhere near those spots that you have picked out! The last time I went to the Amalfi Coast, we stayed in Priano. Although it was a beautiful spot, it was miles away from any of the restaurants or locations that we had wanted to go to. Not our best pick! Make sure to do a little research and find a place to stay that is convenient. Also, try to avoid any areas that are super touristy because the rates will be significantly higher!
9. Not preparing for a long flight
I will never forget the time I got on the 10-hour flight back from Europe and our plane did not have any free onboard entertainment. I wish I could remember the airline because I was completely blindsided. You not only had to rent the iPads to use on the plane instead of each chair having a little tv, but you also had to rent the individual movies or tv shows. I was outraged and so annoyed that I hadn't downloaded anything on my phone ahead of time. For future reference, ALWAYS DOWNLOAD SOMETHING! Netflix has that really handy feature where you can download movies and tv shows and play them later without any cell service being needed.
10. Exchanging money at random spots
All over Europe, you will see the currency exchange units. They all advertise safe ways to exchange money and as a tourist, you really don't know any better. Well, one year, I took my high school boyfriend with me to Austria on a family trip and he went to exchange his own money when we were out and about in Vienna. He comes back and makes a complaining comment about how he barely got any money back from what he exchanged. My dad took a second look at the rate and realized that the booth had completely ripped off the poor kid and taken almost half of the money as a fee. After lots of yelling, my boyfriend got his money returned but I wonder how many other people had been scammed by this booth. Make sure to always use a bank to exchange your money. They might charge a little fee but it is the most reliable place to do it.