Don’t be a dumb arse. Steer clear of making these oh so simple to avoid mistakes on your next vay-cay and turn that FML frown upside down…
Exchanging your currency at the airport
How do we always forget this?? Changing your hard earned cash into foreign currency is always on the pre-holiday checklist, yet somehow it always gets gazumped for buying face wipes or a sixth bikini, resulting in a last minute currency exchange at the airport. But honestly, THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA. The exchange rate at the airport is notoriously bad, and you’ll end up losing far more money than you would if you’d pre-ordered currency to collect before your trip departs, or even if you draw money out at an ATM once you land in your holiday destination.
Not being sensitive to local cultures
Brushing up on a few local phrases will go further than you think in any foreign country. There’s nothing worse than seeing someone saying ‘do you speak English?’ oh so loudly and oh so slowly to a disgruntled looking local. Even if your French/Italian/Spanish/Thai is truly dreadful, the fact that you’re trying proves that you’ve at least taken the time to learn.
Similarly, it’s always sensible to wise up on the dominant religion of a country, and have an awareness of any customs or traditions that you as a traveller have the responsibility to uphold. At the end of the day, remember that you’re a guest in someone else’s country. You’d take your shoes off if you were visiting a friend’s house, so treat someone else homeland with the same level of respect.
Not booking your travel insurance before you leave
We should pre-fix this by first saying ALWAYS BOOK TRAVEL INSURANCE. There literally isn’t a single reason not to do so. If you lose your luggage, end up needing medical assistance, get pick pocketed, whatever it is, you’re insurance will cover this. If you don’t, you’re screwed.
So, now you’re clear on buying travel insurance, here’s lesson number two – always buy it before you depart for your trip. Even buy it at the airport, sitting on the runway if you have to. The second that plane takes off, the cost of insurance will sky rocket, and you don’t want to spend the first day of your holiday making costly long distance calls, spending three times as much money and kicking yourself for not sorting it sooner.
Not turning data roaming off
Don’t want to come home with a phone bill for $3000? Because trust us, that does happen. Make sure your data roaming is turned off. On an iPhone, just head to settings – mobile data, and the data roaming button is right there. A lot of phone companies now will offer you some sort of bundle when you’re abroad, or if you want to be super savvy, buy a local sim card when you first touchdown with enough data to last you your entire trip.
Booking last minute
Admittedly sometimes you can score some sweet deals when booking last minute, but often you’re also left with the worst rooms, the worst seats on the plane, and generally a bit of a bum deal. So mark our words, it pays to book early instead of leaving it to the last minute. Travel companies love an early worm, and the reward for your slick organisational skills is a big old chuck of savings off your next trip.
If you’re sitting on your suitcase, edging the zip closed millimetre by millimetre, just get the message – you’ve packed too much! Do you really need 6 pairs of shoes? No – you need 1, possibly 2 pairs for the daytime (think sneakers and flip flops if travelling to a hot destination), then a smarter pair for the evening. Do you really need a separate outfit for every day and every night? No – narrow it down to a few key pieces that are versatile and go with everything. Do you need a beach towel AND a hotel towel? Probably not. Only bring the essentials, then leave room for everything else you’re bound to pick up on your travels.
Thinking you’ll tan like the locals
Have you ever burnt yourself so badly you’ve had to sleep under a cold shower, or lie on a hard floor just because the tiles are cold? Well I have, and it ain’t a pretty sight. Not wearing enough sunscreen, forgetting to wear a hat in the sun or not drinking enough water are pretty much the cardinal sins of a hot holiday, and are a sure fire way to ruin your vay-cay. Just because the locals are toned, bronzed God’s and Goddesses, that doesn’t mean your poor Vitamin D lacking skin will tan just as easily. Cream up, don a hat, keep hydrated and play the long game with the suntan – the bronzed Goddess comes to those who wait.
Only eating what you’re comfortable with
Leaving your adventurous spirit at home and only eating the most familiar dishes on the menu is basically a bit of a waste. Travel gives you the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in a new culture, see a different way of life and understand a little more about how others live, and a significant part of doing all that comes down to what you eat. Going to Paris and eating McDonalds on the Champs-Élysées, or trekking to Vietnam and only eating white rice doesn’t give you the whole picture. To know a country you have to taste it, and eating French fries in France doesn’t count.
Sticking to the tourist traps
Ok so obviously in Rome you’ve going to want to check out the Colosseum, or in New York the Statue of Liberty, but there’s so much more to these countries you’ve been dreaming of than just the well-publicised highlights. Our advice would always be to get the best of both. Do the touristy things, but also dedicate a sizeable portion of your time to just getting lost in a new place, and really getting a feel for the local way of life. Wander down the backstreets and discover the hole-in-the-wall coffee joint the locals love. Turn left instead of right and stumble upon a café or street food vendor whose food will literally change your life. Travel is all about taking risks, and by just sticking to the tourist trail, you’re limiting the chance of stumbling across something incredible.
Not doing your research
There’s undoubtedly a thrill by turning up in a new country without any plans, any prior knowledge of your surroundings and with nothing on the agenda, but for us, doing your research is something that will pay off in the long run. There are so many tips, tricks and travel hacks out there on the big bad interwebs to make your adventure oh so much better, so why not use them. For example, did you know that to avoid the queues to the Louvre, you just need to take a stroll across the road to the Arc De Triomphe du Carrousel and there are steps right there that will take you underground to the Metro entrance of the museum. Or that instead of wasting hours queuing to enter the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, or to visit the Statue of David in Florence, you can just pre-book tickets online? The internet is there for a reason people, so use it to your advantage!
Want more inspo to turn your travel FML’s to OM friggin’ G’s? Head on over to Contiki now and take advantage of the super sweet savings currently available.