Whether you’re a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kind of traveller, or you meticulously plan each and every detail, there are travel mistakes that we’re all guilty of making at one point or another. Some costly, others just frustrating; here are our top ten travel mistakes to stop making.
1) Staying away from street food
One of the most exciting parts of visiting a new place is getting to eat like a local. While food trucks and street food carts may look a bit shabby in places, they’re often home to some of the best and most authentic cuisine you will come across; think jerk chicken in Jamaica, banh mi in Vietnam, poutine in Canada and tostadas in Mexico. Find a food truck, make yourself comfy on a step and let your hands get sticky with the juices of local fayre. You’ll save a pretty penny too, with street food costing so much less than even the most reasonable restaurants.
2) Drinking too much
Foreign measures coupled with hot sun can be a recipe for disaster. You’re in the holiday spirit, soaking up the atmosphere around the pool, then the next thing you know you’re headed back to your room for a significantly extended siesta. Cocktails and cold beers taste better on the beach or with your toes dipped in a pool, but no amount of tipsy justifies spending the last day of your holiday hunched over the sink, popping paracetamol like they’re going out of fashion.
3) Forgetting to turn off data roaming
We’ve all seen the stories smeared across the pages of the papers; ‘Holidaymaker Returns to £1,777 Mobile Phone Bill’ or ‘Child Ran Up £450 Bill Playing Overpriced Online Games at the Pool’. While this may just be tabloid fodder, the risk of running up huge mobile phone bills whilst abroad is a real one and it is easier done than you may think. Loading up Google Maps to find your hotel? That’ll be £9 for 3 minutes please. Quick FaceTime with family? Say ‘see ya’ to another £15. Turn your data roaming off as soon as you get on the plane and stick to hotel or café Wi-Fi for Facebook updates and FaceTime while away.
4) Winging it without travel insurance
According to industry research, 33% of those travelling in 2015 will do so without travel insurance. When you take into account the fact that travel insurers assist over 4,300 people every single week, paying out more than £4.5million, it seems even more ludicrous to go away without it. Cover for a single trip can cost less than a tenner; substantially less than the burger, magazine, sweets and aromatherapy socks you decide you need to buy from the airport shop.
It’s one we see time and time again; overpacking. While it’s less of a problem if you’re cruising from the UK, overpacking is an unnecessary headache. Who wants even more clothing than necessary to wash and iron when they get home?
Many suggest putting what you think you need in your case, before removing half, but we think it’s a better idea to take some extra time for outfit planning instead. Plan outfits rather than individual items of clothing and try to pack pieces that can be worn as part of several outfits where possible. Check out our ‘What Not to Pack’ guide for more helpful information on how to avoid overpacking.
6) Not printing important information
Nowadays, it’s unusual to receive plane tickets, boarding passes and hotel reservations in paper form, with almost all operators sending e-tickets instead. Sadly, technology is an unreliable old thing and dead batteries can cause chaos at check-in if the only version of your ticket is on your phone or tablet. Go old school and print all your travel documentation, collating it together in a plastic wallet (or even a swanky travel organiser, if you are so inclined).
7) Worshipping travel guides
Travel guides help us sniff out the must-see attractions in every city but following them to the letter can mean that you fail to ever wander off the beaten path. There’s something exciting about getting lost in a place, sniffing out cobblestone side streets, tiny cafes and hidden beaches. Decide what you absolutely must see in each destination and spend the rest of the time allowing yourself to get a little lost.
8) Documenting every single moment on social media
The internet has become an enormous part of our lives and who doesn’t love an odd ‘look, I’m on holiday somewhere gorgeous!’ post every now and then? While we’re all for documenting an amazing trip, you risk spending so much time showing everyone at home how awesome it is, that you forget to actually make the most of it while you’re there. Take real photographs instead of Snapchats, talk to locals instead of friends on Facebook and leave your phone in your room every once in a while. After all, you can brag about what an amazing time you had once you get home.
9) Not letting the bank know you’re leaving the country
You may just be souvenir shopping on a world cruise, but to your bank it looks like a modern day Bonnie and Clyde have set off half-way around the world with your bank details in hand. Next thing you know, your card has been stopped and you’re spending 25 minutes on hold to a premium rate number from a foreign country.
Let the bank know you’re travelling in advance and they’ll note this on your account, making that extravagant diamond purchase in St Thomas look more like a holiday treat than a fraudulent hit.
10) Getting snap happy
Photographs let us remember amazing times after they have long passed, however it is easy to get so caught up in getting the perfect snap that you forget to appreciate what is right in front of you. Listen to the sounds, see the sights, eat the food, even smell your surroundings; just make sure you experience them rather than just photographing them.