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...
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.
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!
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
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
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
11. Don't overpack
Overpacking!!! Just take your basic necessities with you and it will make for a more comfortable and enjoyable backpacking experience!
12. Stop choosing hotels
Biggest mistake? HOTEL! You pay for a hotel for luxury...you pay for a hostel for the experience.
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!
15. Remember your dorm mates' names
Forgetting the names of your dorm mates in the first 5 seconds.
16. Be open-minded
Not keeping an open mind is for sure a mistake...
17. Get comfy
Wearing uncomfortable shoes, the biggest mistake ever.
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...
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.
20. Don't bring tea to England...
I brought two giant boxes of tea to England... just in case
21. Bring a backpack
The biggest mistake is to do backpacking without a backpack.
22. Get insurance
No health insurance. Found out the hard way...
Fiorella Matos Guerra
23. Safety first
Not Packing Condoms
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.
26. Just say yes
Not going in the first place! Life is short, take the trip
27. Extend your trip
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!
31. You only need one souvenir
Don't buy too many souvenirs. You don't need 10 souvenirs to remember one place.
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.
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?