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[Extra] Travel Blunders (What Guidebooks Don’t Tell You)


CNN Travel recently nails a list of travel blunders that almost every traveler at least once has choked on.

1. Overpacking. It took me a few trans-Pacific trips to learn traveling light. The bottom-line: You don’t need a new set of anything for each day of a trip. Figure on at least two wears for (almost) everything.

2. Not buying something you like as soon as you see it. I know how that feels, you want to compare prices and find it cheaper. You won’t. s long as it doesn’t take a toll on luggage weight, buy it and call it a day.

3. Not checking your phone plan before traveling abroad. Never happened to me. The easiest (and cheapest) way is to buy a local SIM card. But when I’m out of the country, I don’t call or text other than touching base with family.

4. Trusting “near city center” descriptions. The hotel rates don’t lie. If something is cheap then it’s too-good-to-be-true: wither in the ghetto or takes all day to get there. When you find the money you saved on your “near city center” hotel is being spent on 30-minute commutes and outrageous taxi fares, you know you’ve committed one of the cardinal sins of travel.

5. Taking the “super” shuttle. Doesn’t apply to me. “Super Shuttle” concept applies mostly to the United States, where a cab ride costs you an arm and leg. Foreign airports usually have airport link that connects the terminal to city center.

6. Not tightening shampoo caps … all the way. This is one thing that is totally preventable.

7. Thinking you know the perfect time to book a ticket. There’s no golden rule. Tickets are cheapest when they’re cheapest. One thing that I know is if you want greater flexibility and better seats, book well in advance.

8. Trying too hard to chisel out a bargain. There’s no faster way to become embittered with the locals than going toe-to-toe with a market full of hungry sales people and shopkeepers. Call it deal when you feel the price is reasonable.

9. Not changing money at the airport. At least have a little cash to pay for transportation to town.

10. Underestimating the hell that is Heathrow.

11. Buying cheap flip-flops. I don’t recommend flipflops unless you’re sauntering around Provincetown or Palm Springs. Comfortable shoes with good ankle support are a must. If you do have to wear them, get a good pair made of leather.

12. Fearing street food. The locals don’t like food poisoning any more than you do. If they’re in line, consider the place vetted and assume you’re going to be fine. Again, use your common sense.

13. Buying a drum on the first day of a three-month trek across Asia. We know, this is the antithesis of travel mistake number two, but there are some balls and chains you really don’t want to lug around the subcontinent. Use your judgment. I personally hate lugging things around.

14. Over-reliance on guidebooks. Sometimes the word of the mouth from locals and guides can get you a long way. In my research for traveling overland in Thailand, the forums give me to most updated info about bus routes and schedule.

15. Not buying the full insurance policy. Common sense, right?

16. Obsessive photography. A very common practice, almost to the scale of an epidemic. Everywhere people are snapping away and are being in the way of others who try to enjoy the view. The obsession/obligation to document every street scene, statue and starter course kills the spontaneity and visceral experience that should be the backbone of travel.

17. Not checking visa requirements before departure. Not every country has land visa. Always assume you need one.

18. Attempting Berlin in a weekend. Pace yourself.

19. Using a credit card to get cash. This is the fastest way of paying through the nose for the privilege of paying through the nose. Credit card companies charge a high transaction fee (up to 15%) for using a card to get cash.

20. Not printing out reservation details. Your phone might not work in the local network. Always have hard-prints of your itineraries and hotel reservations.

2 Responses

  1. As my other half and I travel a lot we have learned too to store up old t shirts and underwear and take it with us when we travel and then toss it along the way. Saves heaps of time rinsing things out.

    • So do I! Old undergear, socks, and even beaten shoes—I leave them all behind and come home lighter. Gone also is the days when I spent money all these knick-knacks that I wouldn’t even look at after I come home. The memories stay in my head.

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