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Home » Travel Tips

Top 5 Common Traveler Mistakes

Submitted by on 01/12/2009 – 4:20 pm6 Comments

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!Cant see the wood for the trees
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, Overpacked bag!!!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.

4.Getting angry…

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 Anger helps no one!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

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Aaron Bradford has written 659 articles. +Aaron Bradford is the leader, mentor and chief geek of HappyTimeblog. He put together the crack team of writers known by codename “The Firm“. He's a permanent traveller and a lifestyle hacker. Wanna know more? Check out my Bucket List or my About page... I'm here to show you how to live a Life Less Ordinary

6 Comments »

  • Well said, I totally agree.
    My philosophy is to do a lot of research before I go somewhere, and allow myself to be spontaneous once I get there. I hate wasting time on indecision, and hate falling into tourist traps. Re: packing try on everything in your suitcase and make sure everything serves at least two purposes.
    .-= The Fashionable Traveler´s last blog ..My New Orleans: Celebration in the Oaks =-.

  • Anil says:

    I’d recommend using Crash Plan and asking a friend or family member for a few gigs of storage space. The program automatically backs up files and folders you specify to the other computer for free. You can even swap with that friend and let them use some of your space for storage too. The backups are also encrypted so the other person can’t look through your stuff and visa versa.

    There’s also Mozy.com which does something similar for $5/month.

  • Great tips! I totally agree.

    If I may add something:

    Forgetting to be flexible: making a travel planning is good, but as long as it doesn’t become stiff. If there is a hich – and it is highly likely in every trip – better try to see it as a possible opportunity. Indeed sometimes unforeseen events can lead to unexpected great surprises. So, keep cool, remember you’re on holiday, not at work. The uneforeseen event is part of the travel experience. And if one’s take it the right way, it can also be a good way to laugh.
    .-= waitinginthedark´s last blog ..Scrap Book Memories: The intense look of a Peruvian child =-.

  • Aaron says:

    Great additions people! I particularly like @the fasionable traveler, RE: making sure all clothes have multiple uses… Now all I have to do is get Georgie to think like that!…

  • Anthony says:

    The only guides worth following closely are walking guides. Even then, Given that most people arrive at a destination at the same sort of time (ie morning) I tend to go them backwards so that I am not walking along with lots of other groups of people and trying to all look at the sames features along the way!

  • MsCathy says:

    YES! Pack as little as possible because I’ve definitely made the mistake of overpacking and it feels HORRIBLE. It was so difficult to trek around anywhere and I just wanted to throw everything out at once. Now, I only travel with the absolute necessities, a few long tees for winter, multi-functional shoes, jacket, etc..

    Another big mistake when traveling, I think, is not bringing tweezers – - they have been so useful for me haha!!

    Cathy Trails

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