Top 5 Common Traveler Mistakes
Earlier today I was away with the fairies daydreaming about our next trip, while I could’ve let my mind wander all day about the things and places I want to do and see I also got thinking about the things I must remember NOT to do…
1. Relying totally on Guide Books…
Its a rare sight, a traveller without a guide book. Now I’m not entirely opposed to them completely but the vast majority of travellers treat their guidebooks like bibles and obey their every word… This is, in my opinion, the worst mistake any traveller can make!
Guidebooks can be a great resource if used as a “guide” but I once heard someone say:
“I visit a place first and then take a peek at their guide book to see what I’ve missed… Then, if it takes my fancy, I’ll go back and fill in the gaps.”
If used in this way the guide books to exactly what they were intended for in the first place.
I’ve seen it too many times, the bus is due to arrive and as if by magic the bus is suddenly full of guidebooks (all the same brand) and everyone is literally on the same page, they all want the same rooms and to do the same things but its crucial to remember that the guidebook was written to help travellers explore a place and not to define it!
So I say put the guidebook down, arrive at a place and interact with other travellers and locals, ask your guest house about things to do and go out and explore, because there is a lot more to a place than what’s in any guidebook!.. So what if you end up in a grubby room and there is somewhere better around the corner, at least you would have met new people and been able to form your own opinions, if that’s not for you then maybe you shouldn’t have left home.
2. Over Packing…
Its a common mistake and one that probably every single new traveller has made. For some reason when they’re in the camping supply shop buying a backpack they are confronted with a passionate urge to buy an SOS whistle, water purification tablets, emergency travel stretcher and all sorts of other “useful” things that would normally only be found in a hardcore explorers kit. It’s hard to explain why new travellers do it because any veteran traveller or guide book read properly will say the same thing:
“pack as little as possible”
For some reason this piece of advice is almost always ignored and I really think it’s one of the best pierces of travel advice there is.
Think of a backpack not as a travelling home but as an anchor, that will weigh any traveller down and complicate just about every aspect of actually “travelling”. If that’s not enough… Everything needed will be available, at a fraction of the price, whatever the destination!
Here’s a good site that may help – www.onebag.com
3. Forgetting the Budget…
It’s the first thing all travellers think of and it really is important, make a budget and stick to it!
Don’t be tempted to have a splurge on silly things that are probably unnecessary anyway, like flash hotels or VIP buses, ride the local bus and break down the local – traveller borders, interact and see a place for what it really is. It’s all too easy to feel restricted by a tight budget but that’s completely missing the point, eating in restaurants that aren’t geared towards tourists can be a great experience and often at a fraction of the price and surely that’s exactly why the “traveller” leaves home in the first place. Eat where the locals eat instead of at the restaurants that target tourists. Other things like cheap phone cards with international calling, using local transport services, keep tabs on spending by recording expenditures in a notebook, etc. would help you to save more money. A budget should be looked at as a way to experience a place more authentically and not as a restriction.
This is something that happens all to often, it normally comes about when crossing borders over land or places where a carefully planned itinerary is suddenly controlled by an outside factor, such as a Cambodian bus driver who wants to make a detour to deliver ten bags of rice to his sisters restaurant. It’s easy to get mad and start shouting but in truth, loosing the plot and going all red in the face will only make matters worse. Sometimes a situation is really sh*t and there seems like no other way to be heard than by raising a fist but trust me, there is always another way. Travelling, by definition, is a journey, it’s not about the destination until you actually arrive so relax, get comfortable and enjoy it.
5. Not backing up pictures…
Probably the most heartbreaking mistake to make of all, a traveller spends a lot of time carefully taking pictures of the beautiful places they visit and the beautiful people they meet only to pick up a virus at an internet cafe or have their camera stolen, either way all the memories are lost. It’s also such an unnecessary mistake to make because no matter where I’ve been there has always been a place to burn my pictures onto a DVD or CD and for a very reasonable price as well. Get into the habit of backing up photos regularly in any way possible because even if your £2000 camera is stolen the thing you will miss the most is those irreplaceable pictures of your travels.
A good resource for all things photography is Digital Photography School