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32 Biggest Backpacker Mistakes

Learn from other people’s travel mistakes…

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  • 01 November 2022
  • • 6 min read

LEARN FROM OTHER PEOPLE’S TRAVEL MISTAKES…

Whether it's realising your passport expires the day before your flight or losing it altogether, we all make rookie mistakes when travelling. We asked our readers about their biggest backpacker mistakes and we received an overwhelming response. Here are some of our favourites…

Are you guilty of any of these?

1. Always print your boarding pass

"Not printing your boarding pass for a non-refundable $250 flight with Ryanair. Then finding out it costs an arm and a leg to print it at the airport, and even if you wanted to pay for it, you couldn't, because in order for that to be an option you had to arrive 4 hours prior to your flight.”

You can't always rely on your phone...

Melanie Mercado


2. Learn the lingo

Not attempting to learn some of the local language and pronunciations before or while you're there. Even some basic "survival" vocabulary for greetings, food, and public services can save you...especially in a country where English is not commonly spoken.

Siobhän Isa


3. Check which airport you're flying to & from

The biggest mistake I made was going to the wrong airport! I was due to fly in an hour and I was at the other end of Tokyo!

Bradley Cowling


4. Remember timezone changes

Forgetting to change the timezone from the last country you were in, chilling in the reclining chairs at the capital's major multi-terminal airport (in my case, London Gatwick) for your next flight thinking you've got so long you don't need to check the board yet, then realising all too late that your watch is back an hour and that you have 20 minutes to race through the airport 'Love Actually' style with 5-10-kg cabin baggage in hand

Charlotte Lomax


5. Double-check your Visas

Submitting your Visa details wrong and not realising until you are at security in your destination (Vietnam) and your visa starts the next day and your friends start today

Becky Bolton


6. Throw away your leftovers

Leaving food on your bed in a hut in Thailand and then having to sleep through the night with ants crawling all over you because there are no other beds available and it's completely your own fault!

Sophie Beaumont


7. Trust your instincts

Not trusting people or trusting them too much. Both are just as bad! Learn to trust your instincts and you'll have the trip of a lifetime!

Helen Hield


8. Exchange your money

Not exchanging all the currencies you'll need before your trip and losing 40% to commission in "reputable" bureau's last minute!

Cathal Mone


9. Be noise conscious

Wrapping stuff in your backpack in plastic bags and then arriving late at night. Haha. Absolutely hate that noise in the middle of the night!

Samantha Yendall


10. Live in the moment

Focusing on getting Instagram shots instead of just experiencing the culture. You can Photoshop cool photos later...it’s fine. Lol.

Rebecca Downey


11. Don't overpack

Overpacking!!! Just take your basic necessities with you and it will make for a more comfortable and enjoyable backpacking experience!

Lauren Murphy


12. Stop choosing hotels

Biggest mistake? HOTEL! You pay for a hotel for luxury...you pay for a hostel for the experience.

Agostino Mantice


13. Don't lose your passport

Losing your passport just an hour and a half before you're heading home...I had an hour to get an emergency passport and get to Eindhoven airport. Believe it or not. I bloody made it!

Anna Maria Home


14. Don't be shy

Being shy and not making friends during your trip!

Samantha Zárate


15. Remember your dorm mates' names

Forgetting the names of your dorm mates in the first 5 seconds.

Claudia Kerr


16. Be open-minded

Not keeping an open mind is for sure a mistake...

Kate Ward


17. Get comfy

Wearing uncomfortable shoes, the biggest mistake ever.

Norbert Krysiuk


18. Hold off on making lunch

Making cheese and tomato sandwiches for my journey, then packing them in my rucksack which went in the hold of the coach for a 3-day trip to Greece from London.... Not a pretty sight (or smell) after 3 days in extreme heat...

Serena Grimaldi


19. Stay fresh

Take fresh clothes for city walking OR fresh water or food in case you need them. I had no other place to buy some as it was a Sunday in Germany and Austria.

Onur Demir


20. Don't bring tea to England...

I brought two giant boxes of tea to England... just in case

Classic.

Robyn Tánya


21. Bring a backpack

The biggest mistake is to do backpacking without a backpack.

Yak Leneid


22. Get insurance

No health insurance. Found out the hard way...

Fiorella Matos Guerra


23. Safety first

Not Packing Condoms

Ash Lóvac


24. Don't lose your belongings

Forgetting your backpack somewhere and have no idea where you left it.

Kyle N Hereygers


25. Stay with us

Biggest mistake? Not using St Christopher's before I was 55! I have been using them frequently since.

Martin Thorn


26. Just say yes

Not going in the first place! Life is short, take the trip

Angela Bording


27. Extend your trip

Returning home.

Joe Olver


NOW FOR SOME FROM THE TEAM AT ST CHRISTOPHER'S. THINGS WE WISHED WE KNEW BEFORE TRAVELLING:

28. Check local temperatures

Only packing one jumper because I thought the West Coast of America was boiling. Then, we started trekking Yosemite and the Grand Canyon and it was absolutely freezing. I then had to use that one jumper for everything (even to sleep in when the hostel was cold). Gross.

29. Check your travel passes

In Rome, my friend and I bought a travel pass that allowed access to all public transport. We thought it also included the Overground train back to the airport (it didn’t). We ended up arguing with the ticket man on board the train, trying to charge us 50 euros each! He wasn’t having any of it. The result? A very angry Italian man, and two very poor British girls.

30. Print your tickets

I also forgot to print Disneyland Paris tickets so we had to go on a hunt in the local town to find a printer. Luckily, we found an estate agent who let us borrow their printer after a long confusing discourse (and weird hand gestures) as none of us speaks French!

Shereen Sagoo


31. You only need one souvenir

Don't buy too many souvenirs. You don't need 10 souvenirs to remember one place.

Ellie Roberts


32. Eat locally

Don't stick to your well-known fast food chains. This is your chance to eat like the locals and try some of the country's famous cuisines.

Alfredo Goncalves


HAPPY TRAVELLING!

The lesson learned from this article? Some of the funniest memories to look back on are the mistakes we make when travelling. Sometimes you can’t control them, and sometimes you can. But whatever the situation, it makes backpacking, backpacking! And would travelling be without the hilarious moments to reminisce on in 10 years' time?

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