Nine common travel mistakes and how to avoid them

November 16, 2016
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For all the first-time travellers out there, it’s important to know that when you're overseas, things won’t always go according to plan. That doesn’t mean you won’t have the most amazing time ever, but it’s almost impossible to prepare for every bad situation that might happen. However, there are some simple mistakes that are avoidable, so take note if you want your first overseas trip to go as smoothly as possible.

Packing too much

We get it, packing is the most dreaded part of your holiday. Planning for different temperatures and activities can be tricky without packing so many clothes for “just in case”. But even if your airline allows you to pack 32kg, do not pack that much. Remember you have to lug that suitcase around, often up flights of stairs if you’re staying in a hostel. Whatever your limit is, aim for half the weight. That way, you’ll have room to buy things and you won’t break your back everytime you have to pick it up.

Not planning enough time between flights

If you’re booking connecting flights yourself, make sure you leave plenty of time between both. If you’re going with cheaper airlines, there can be delays. You don’t want to start your holiday being stressed out and running to make your flight or missing your flight entirely. Depending on the flight, it might even be wise to stay the night to avoid disaster - take it as a chance to explore a whole new destination.

Forgetting to tell your bank you’re going overseas

This is such an easy thing to do. If you don’t give your bank a call and let them know you’re going overseas, they can often freeze your account if they think the transactions look suspicious. Some banks even let you do it via an online form, so there’s no excuse not to.

Trying to visit too many places

This might be your first time to Europe, so you’ll probably want to see as many places as you can. After all it’s a hella expensive flight, so you have to make it worth it, right? Take into consideration the travel time vs the time in your destination. If you’ve crammed too many countries into your itinerary, you’ll feel really rushed and you won't get to enjoy each place. Instead, choose a select few places you most want to go to. The rest can wait to the next trip (and there will be a next trip because you will most certainly catch the travel bug).

Not asking for directions

This is an important one, particularly if you’re travelling alone. Don’t be afraid to use a few phrases from the local language, even if you're worried about getting it wrong. You'd be surprised how many people will be willing to help. But it’s also important to ask more than one person – you don’t want to be sent in the completely wrong direction by an equally confused local.

Not backing up your photos

This is one learned from experience. Twice unfortunately. Make sure you back up your photos whenever you can – whether it’s adding your photos from your phone to a Google Drive, visiting an internet café for your camera photos or even just uploading them to Facebook. If your phone or camera get stolen, you'll be most sad about losing those memories. If you have an iPhone, make sure iCloud is turned on – it’s a lifesaver.

Not double checking your documents

Also a true story, unforch. Read your flight documents carefully before you arrive to make sure there are no errors. Before you leave for a new destination, carefully check it – you might fly into a country from one airport, but you might be leaving from another airport so for the love of the god don’t just blindly head to the original airport at 4am without checking your flight itinerary (lesson learned, never again).

Letting your guard down when you’re drinking

This is the easiest way to lose your stuff. If you’re in a country known for its pick-pockets, you might be watching your valuables closely during the day, but be way too trusting when you start drinking. If you go out drinking, make sure you leave the passport locked up in your hostel and if you bring a phone, keep your bag in front of you and closed at all times.

Not immersing yourself in the local culture

This is the biggest mistake of all. Sure, it’s good to visit all the local tourist spots, but they won't be the most memorable moments of your trip. Venture out and try new foods, meet new people and find where the locals go. You’ll get a more authentic experience of the country, rather than the tourist trap that other travellers fall for.

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