Have you ever had the misfortune of arriving back home from your journey and thinking “well, that was a sh#t trip”? Chances are, some of the choices you made were responsible for your horrible holiday. Sure, we all set out with the best intentions – to have fun, to see the sights and try new things. But often, people go a little too far, or try a little too hard and the result is a trip that is more a chore than the fun it’s meant to be.
So, here are the mistakes to avoid on your next trip.
Trying to see too much
Okay, we all want to see the best of the city we’re visiting and, upon first glance at the travel guide, there’s so much to see and do. But, if you take a breath, you’ll realise you’re never going to be able to see and do it all. And besides, think of the time you’ll spend in a cab, train or bus just trying to make it to all these ‘attractions’. Great way to spend a holiday …
So, make a list of everything you want to do in order of preference. Then prioritise or, more’s the point, just cross off the second half of your list. Go for quality over quantity.
And here’s the best piece of travel advice you’ll read all day: don’t plan it all. Plan to do one thing a day. Yep, one thing. Then allow for opportunity and chance. Try to think of each day on your holiday as a local would their weekend. Choose one activity, then soak up the neighbourhood, walk into a random bar, try the churros from the food truck on the corner, accept an invitation to a live performance. The only way to experience the country you’re visiting is to do it like the locals do. Don’t get sucked into the guide book or all those advertised attractions.
Booking a red-eye flight
Unless you’re saving hundreds of dollars on your flight, don’t book a super early flight. It’s meant to be a holiday, so give yourself a nice sleep in and arrive at the airport at a decent time of day. It’s not worth the hassle.
Taking too much stuff
You know what, I’ve written about overpacking before, so without going into too much detail (you can read more about it here), overpacking makes holidays hell. Dragging a bloody big bag all over town is, well, just not enjoyable. Here’s a tip: you probably won’t ever wear half of what you pack. So, whatever you pack: halve it.
Not booking ahead
If you do want to see Alcatraz or that blockbuster Broadway show, you may need to book ahead. Before I went to San Francisco, everyone told me I had to see Alcatraz. What they didn’t tell me is that I had to book a berth three to four weeks ahead of time. While it didn’t ruin my trip (I wasn’t really that keen to see it), it may have if I was hell-bent on visiting the infamous island jail.
Going overboard on the food and bevvies
It’s fun to let yourself go, but going too far can have consequences. Overeating can make for a rough night’s sleep and having too much of a good thing means you may have to miss out on some others. When possible, stick to sample sizes or entrée portions (although it pays to remember that entrée means main course in some countries) and go easy on the booze. Hangovers make for nasty next days.
Booking accommodation too far out of town
Sure, there are cheaper hotel deals outside of the city, but the time and money you spend commuting will quickly erase any savings.
Taking too many photographs
Now, I have been guilty of this travel sin. I once spent so much time taking photos that, when reviewing them back home, realised I didn’t truly soak up the surrounds. Sure, I have digital memories, but I’d prefer to have smells and sounds ingrained on my brain. A snap or a selfie here and there is recommended, but keep the camera in your pocket and live the moment. The best memories are the ones you make, not the ones you take.
Staying too connected
Constantly checking your email or Facebook will mean you spend less time taking in the sights around you. Just think, the 30 minutes (or more) a day you spend with your head down looking at your phone means you’re missing out on an opportunity, a chance encounter or a freaky occurrence you can experience physically, not digitally. And checking email is the quickest way to be sucked back into life at home. You’re on holiday! So be on holiday!
You may head to a destination with the ‘guide book’ image in mind, but you know what? That’s advertising. McDonald’s doesn’t show you the crap burgers, only the ‘model’ ones. If you walk around your home city, you may not notice many of its imperfections, because you’re used to them. When you go to some new place, you do so with fresh eyes and an ideal impression of your destination. Just don’t sweat the small stuff and you’ll have a good time.
Going during peak season
Want to know why you’re waiting an hour for the ski lift? Or why, when visiting the Louvre, all you see is the backs of people’s heads? Try finding out when shoulder season is. The crowds will be smaller, the food and drink cheaper, the locals a lot friendlier and your holiday less stressful and way more enjoyable.
Do you want to share the ways you’ve contributed to a horrible holiday? Have any tips for making a trip more enjoyable?