Travel Pros Best Travel Tips & Rookie Mistakes to Avoid
Travel! It's such a great topic and there are endless destinations in the world to visit, things to see, foods to try, cultures to experience, people to meet. From the time I started traveling after high school, I've since traveled alone around Asia, South America, Africa, North America, and Europe - if you're looking for solo travel tips for women check here. Most of this was due to studying or working in Munich, Germany (where I still am!); Beijing China; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rome, Italy; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and London, UK.
It's no secret that I love quotes from Anthony Bourdain on travel, so I will start with this one..
"Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small.And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you," -- Anthony Bourdain
I've been traveling since I was a kid with my family but it wasn't until I took my first trip to Europe with some high school friends after graduation that I really learned probably 75% of my lessons of what NOT to do. I've made some really, really rookie mistakes and I'm going to share some funny stories so you can learn from me. In my defense, in 1996 when I took my first trip to Europe out of the US, I was 18, there was no internet help for anything, and you sometimes gotta be bad at something first before you get good at it, right? :)
In this article, I want to share some of my best travel tips, and I also asked some of Twitter's Travel Bloggers (and obvious pros) for their best tips and also to share some of their rookie mistakes as well. We all made the mistakes so you don't have to!
My Biggest Rookie Mistake:
1996: Arriving by boat from Dover, England to Calais, France in the middle of the night with ZERO plan:
(no French Francs, no booked hostel or hotel, no food, trying to get to Paris)
I want to preface this story by letting everyone know that now you can just go online and buy a ferry ticket from Dover to Calais online in about 5 seconds and find much of the information that would have helped in this situation. :D My friend and I set off on a month-long- all-we-could-possibly-see Euro trip. We were armed with an unlimited student Eurail pass and a bunch of American Express traveler's checks. The Euro did not exist, and every country in Europe had its own currency. Bank cards were not international at the time, and we did have a credit card for emergencies but it didn't have a pin so you could take out cash.
The PLAN: London to Paris in 1 Day
We got a bus from London to Dover, England in the afternoon and hung out in Dover and thought we would take the last 1 hour-long evening ferry which left at 12 midnight. We enjoyed our time on the boat and arrived nicely to Calais. Perfect!! Now we can go take a train to Paris and it's only 3-4 hours by train, this will be great!!
So, unfortunately, we didn't factor in the time change between France and UK and it was 2 AM when we arrived. There were no people working at the ferry dock, no people at the counters, no money changes open, everything was dark. The other passengers were getting picked up by people at the curb. Thought we would take a bus. Oh. The last bus left at 11:30 Pm or something. Ok so no bus into town. No worries, we will follow the "CENTRE" signs into town and walk along the side of the highway (very clever).
The FAIL: Getting to downtown Calais at 3 AM
We arrived to the center maybe an hour later and everything was closed. No money. And no banks open or hotels open either. No food. The train station was totally vacant but the schedule said that the train to Paris we could use with our Eurail pass left at 9:00 AM in six hours. So we grabbed our stuff and very little water due to lack of planning. So what could we do? Find a park and sleep, kind of, until we could take our train. We arrived in Paris around 12:30 PM, changed money at bank by the station, got water and decided to actually CALL and reserve the hotel listed in our guide book. Arrived there absolutely dead due to our questionable planning. At that time we were into being a bit too spontaneous. Lesson learned.
Moral of the story. Have a plan. Have an idea of where you're going to stay when you arrive and check transportation before you arrive! This is so much easier nowadays because you can just look up a hotel, pay for it online, etc. But my tip is to figure out how you will get MONEY, HAVE A PLACE TO STAY BOOKED and KNOW how you will get there!
Now, here are some stellar rookie stories and travel tips from Twitter's Travel Pros! :)
On packing for travel:
Packing for a trip can be so stressful and there are so many things you learn over the years about what you really need and what kind of things are just weighing you down. After you carry a heavy back pack for even a few days you will suddenly regret all those extra things you brought along. I remember the first time we went to Europe, for some reason people told us that we had to bring our own sheets with us. Every hostel we stayed at had sheet and after a week we ended up leaving them by a bin in Spain on a corner.
Here is my rookie tip.. When you've over packed and realise the errors of your ways, do not bother sending stuff home. It's cheaper to buy new stuff than the cost of the postage"
Nomadic Backpacker | World Traveller
30 years 100 Countries #NomadicBackpacker
Travel Tip: Don't trust that your clothes will be safe on your hostel bed. I got my Nike shorts and top nicked!' EMILYS EYES EXPLORE
"1 rookie mistake that I'm still making - even today boarding a cruise - is packing too much and having to lug them all over the place. I probably could make do with a third of what I brought and still be fine. LOL!
Travel Tip: Don't pack bulky clothes and learn to layer for colder weather," World Traveler.
"Rookie mistake- packing too many unused items!
Travel Tip - always take earplugs!" fionamusicinthelakes
Rookie Mistake: Putting all of your important clothes in your checked luggage. I was to teach a class in Las Vegas in front of 100 people and the airline lost my luggage. I ended up teaching my class in a jumpsuit.
Travel Tip: Split your important clothes between two suitcases!" Cynthia Miller
"Rookie mistake: Not bringing any nice clothes with me and having hiking boots be my only shoes. This works if you're hiking or on a hiking holiday in the Dolomites but really doesn't help when you want to go out for a nice dinner in Paris and you only have travel cargo pants, T-shirts, and hiking boots.
Travel Tip: bring ONE thing you can dress up and look presentable going out and some shoes that look decent," Living Deliberately - Andrea Hunt
Living Deliberately - Andrea Hunt
So this is a topic that people have lots of opinions on. If you like adventure and spontaneity, not planning can be pretty fun as you never know what will happen next. While I used to do this in the past when I traveled with people, for me there are just too many variables that add extra headache, discomfort and extra cost. On the other hand, being super super rigid with travel plans so you have way, way too many activities and no room for any flexibility can also be annoying and extremely stressful. Here are some thoughts our travel pros had.
While over planning will cramp your flexibility, knowing how to get to your destination and also back to your hotel is important. If you're trying to plan how to get around in a country where you don't speak the language, make sure you have the people at your hostel/hotel write down the address in the local language as well. In Beijing, writing down "Jade Garden Hotel;" on "Nanheyan Street" will get you absolutely nowhere if you try to ask someone for directions.. :D
"My first rookie mistake was booking through a travel agent and not checking the accommodation had air conditioning in the height of summer in Greek Islands!
Travel Tip: I now research accommodation thoroughly to ensure it’s in a good location and has all the amenities we’re looking for," Perthtravelers (Wendy).
"I think I made the worst mistake a traveler can make. I once booked a flight to the wrong destination. The good thing is it was the wrong airport, but the same city, so I took a taxi to reach my destination
Travel Tip: before booking a flight double check 10000 times before paying." Siry
"Rookie mistake - not checking the timetable before catching a ferry to an island in Croatia and then having to charter a boat to get to another island as there was no way back for a week!" Giselle.
"Rookie Mistake: Booking everything in advance. Travel is serendipitous. Be open to any possible experience.
Travel Tip: Keep a travel journal. Years from now when you read back on your experiences you’ll enjoy your trip a second time," Tony Chan. Aka A Beaver Abroad.
Tony Chan. Aka A Beaver Abroad.
"Rookie Mistake: Worrying about my inability to speak a different language.
Travel Tip: Get travel insurance if you can!" My Unexpected Life
My Unexpected Life
"Rookie mistake: Booking the cheapest accommodation option without checking the location. Cheap options might sometimes be far out of town or away from amenities, causing you to spend more money in the end on your trip!
Travel Tip: Do your research! Going on holiday without knowing anything about your destination can end in disaster. There's so many great resources, blogs, and reviews that can help you plan the best trip for you." JourneyHeroApp
Book using the JourneyHero App, and you could receive money back on better travel deals even after you've booked and paid! Download here: https://apple.co/3ChPRqk
Are you trying to build up the courage to travel alone and you don't know where to start? Check out my other blog articles on Albania, Zanzibar, Traveling After a Breakup, and Travel Tips for Women Traveling Solo!
Are you an expat or traveler who's looking to find balance and feel empowered in all areas of your life? Schedule a transformational life coaching session with me and we'll help you build confidence, remove emotional blocks so you can reach your goals, and get what you want out of life.
ANDREA HUNT - Online Transformational Life Coach & EFT Tapping Practitioner based in Munich, Germany
I'm an accredited transformational life coach from Animas Centre for Coaching UK and a member of the International Coaching Federation. I'm also a Level 2 practitioner in EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and a member of AEFTP (Association of Emotional Freedom Technique Professionals).
If you're not sure where to start transforming your life, you can download my free ebook on How to Start Your Personal Growth Journey.
Are you ready to change your life, let go of old beliefs, empower yourself for a mindset shift to move forward? Mark Batterson says: You're always one decision away from a totally different life.
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