Traveling is a life-long learning process. You figure out what your travel style is, what you value most in a trip, which types of people you like to travel with and how to make your budget last as the years go by. Go ahead and jump-start the process with these tips and avoid making some of the most common rookie travel mistakes.
Booking With Repeat Check-In
Flying is undeniably the most expensive part of traveling, as the number of websites that exist solely to help you find the cheapest flights can attest. But when you find that flight price that’s too good to be true, make sure you read the fine print. Some budget booking services might find you a cheap set of connections, but the way your booking goes through will cause you to collect and recheck your luggage (and yourself) at each leg of the trip. If you have no checked bags and plenty of time to catch your next flight, this could be no problem at all — or you could get stuck in a long check-in line, bogged down at security or waiting too long for your luggage to arrive.
Buying the City Pass
Cities with a large number of museums or similar attractions will often try to sell tourists the coveted city pass upon arrival, which promises to save you money on admission or ticket prices and get you into all of the tourist traps at a discount. But unless you’re absolutely positive that you want to spend your trip ducking in and out of museums and waiting in lines, you might want to skip this one. Craft unique experiences to remember your trip instead of following the herd.
Following the Crowds
Popularity is judged visually for a reason — if you see a big crowd, it probably means the place they’re crowding around is pretty good. But when you’re on a trip in a city full of tourists, crowds don’t necessarily have any knowledge about the quality of where they’re gathering. Location rather than reputation tends to be the deciding factor in a tourism city, and following the crowds could lead you to overrated experiences and an overall less authentic experience. Follow your local intuition instead and sniff out the places that are popular among the residents or have a wow factor that doesn’t hinge on how close they are to hotels.
Comfort level for lodging is a highly personal decision, and your choice can be influenced by a number of factors from how many people you’re traveling with to what kind of sleeping conditions you need in order to make your trip enjoyable. One big mistake though, especially in the more crowded European cities or places known for their nightlife, is sequestering yourself in a hotel room and passing up on the priceless social opportunities of a hostel. If you don’t want to share a room with strangers, getting a private room in a hostel will still allow you to socialize with other travelers in the common rooms and make new friends who will expand your experience past your own parameters. It also eliminates a lot of the need for planning, as often times you can join up with a group plan for the evening instead of going back to your hotel room and having to figure one out for yourself.
Winging It on Transportation
This is some of the best and also some of the hardest travel advice to follow — do your research, especially when it comes to transportation. Even if you’re one of those travelers who likes to figure out your plans as you go and not draw up an itinerary in advance, it’s still a good idea to map out the basics. For example, does the train actually run between your destinations at the time of your arrival, or are you going to be stuck in a waiting room overnight with all of your luggage? (Definitely not speaking from experience there, no. Of course not.) Making sure the basics of getting from point A to point B are sorted before you arrive will save a huge headache and keep your trip running smoothly for all those spontaneous decisions yet to come.