Ten first-time travel mistakes

Just as in life, you’re probably going to make mistakes the first time you travel. However, if you remember these travel tips, you may find you’ll have more than luck on your side.

Don’t overbook
Okay, so you’re leaving home and the notion of being out in the world can be daunting – but exciting. Still, you don’t need to lock in every booking in before you go. Pre-book the big things, but allow yourself some room to be spontaneous, then you’ll be able to accept more opportunities should they arise. 

Use your travel agent sparingly
Nowadays you can book almost all your travel arrangements online. But if the price is right, the benefits of the added security that comes with booking your flights and accommodation with a travel agent can outweigh the costs, such as, for example, if your flights get messed up. However, if you trust yourself and your sources, you’ll save a lot of money booking everything else online.

Be wary, not scared
As mentioned earlier, first-time travel can be daunting, but it’s best to be wary, not scared. Don’t mistrust everyone as you may miss out on the time of your life. Having said that, there are scammers out there, and all travellers, not just the rookies, are prime targets. So, keep your guard, be civil, courteous, sensible and friendly, and you’ll more than likely attract less attention to yourself and make more friends in the process. 

Don’t try to see everything
Don’t try to see seven countries in 14 days, or spend your days in all the tourist traps – or you’ll only skim the surface of the destination. Sure, take a tour on your first day and see the lay of the land, but spend as much time as you can getting to know each country you visit, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. Live and eat like a local. Relax and take your time. Trust that you will travel again. Your experience will be fuller, richer and will make for better memories in days to come. 

Travel insurance is a must
Don’t think you need travel insurance? It’s obviously your call, but if anything happens to you – an accident, sickness, stolen luggage, or any other travel mishaps – you’ll wish you spent that little extra on an insurance policy. 

Save more money than you think you’ll need
Whatever money you think you’ll spend whilst you travel, double it. Experienced travellers reckon that you’ll spend twice what you think your budget will be – and that’s a conservative estimate.

Packing too much
I remember my first time overseas. I recall returning home, unpacking and thinking, “why on earth did I pack so much?” I didn’t use a third of what I packed, and, honestly, I could have used that wasted room for extra goodies on my way back home. Why not watch our video on how to pack a suitcase, and check out these great packing tricks?

Don’t panic
Things are bound to go wrong – unless you are one of the lucky few. So, don’t let it get you down. You’re on holiday. There are certain risks involved, but that’s part of the thrill of travel. If things don’t go to plan, don’t freak out – it’ll just make it worse. Try to roll with the punches and know that things will work out OK. 

Your guidebook is a guide, not a god
Consult your guidebook to point you in the right direction and give you background information on the places you’re visiting, but don’t make the mistake of doing things only listed in the guidebook. Keep your eyes peeled and talk to the retailers, the bar staff and other locals – it’s their hometown, and they’re the best resource for learning about the place you’re visiting. 

Have you found yourself making any of these mistakes in your travel experiences? Have you made any other travel mistakes? Why not share them?

Related articles:
Choosing the right travel companion
Time to try small-group touring?
The best seat for nervous flyers

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Publisher of YourLifeChoices – Australia's most-trusted and longest-running retirement website. A trusted voice on Australia's retirement landscape, including retirement income and planning, government entitlements, lifestyle and news and information relevant to Australians over 50. Leon has worked in publishing for more than 25 years and is also a travel writer and editor, graphic designer and photographer.

Leave a Reply

Would Centrelink changes affect you?

Louise Cakes from Gran’s Kitchen