Let’s face it. Everyone who travels has made mistakes along the way and it doesn’t matter if the trip is a quick one near your home or a long flight overseas to a new country.
In thinking about my travels over the past 25 years or so, I look back at those few mistakes I made and know that I learned a lot from them to where they will never be made again!
Not Having An Adequate International Data And Call Plan On My Cell Phone
This one cost me. Big. When I went to Panama, I didn’t realize I had not activated the international plan with my cellular company. Fast forward a month later and my bill was almost $150 more than normal. Oops!
My biggest mistake was not checking what the rules and plans were ahead of time. No more. I now have a plan thanks to T-Mobile which offers enough data services to find my way around almost any country and upload a photo here or there for friends without any additional cost.
Not Dressing For The Weather
This is a common problem, especially for women. We either dress too nice or not nice enough. I’m great with dressing appropriately for the weather but learned on my very first trip outside of the U.S. that I need to have a few more options in my suitcase, without packing too much.
I made a huge mistake of not dressing nice enough for a last-minute dinner out and while I didn’t stand out, I definitely did not fit in and garnered a few looks that made me feel uncomfortable.
Now, I always bring a dress and some nice jewelry so I can make sure I look at least close to being as dressy as I need to be. I also bring at least one pair of slacks and one long-sleeved cardigan or top for those places that require a bit more conservative look. I hope to never make the mistake of not dressing appropriately for whatever event I end up going to.
Not Having A Copy Of My Itinerary Handy
Traveling before smartphones made this a necessity. Printing out a copy of your itinerary, confirmation numbers, and more was a must. Now with smartphones, we tend to leave it to technology to get us where we need to go. However, having that printed copy handy is always a good idea, especially when you are unsure about cellular service and/or WiFi.
For instance, I recently went to Hawaii and needed to show my Covid-specific documents to enter the islands. The cell service was very spotty in the building we were in and I couldn’t pull up all of my documents.
In fact, most of the people in line were having that issue, regardless of carrier. But fear not, I had mine printed and skipped to the front of the line to get through the checks and onto my hotel.
Forgetting A Comfortable Pair Of Shoes
I always travel with at least one set of very comfortable shoes to walk in. But on one trip to a beach destination, I showed up with nothing but sandals. Now that isn’t normally a problem, but I had plans on long walks around some of the nature preserves not far from the beach with my friends on this trip.
Fortunately, I was able to hit the mall nearby and grab a pair but because they weren’t broken in, I ended up with some very uncomfortable blisters. Moral of the story: always pack a pair of comfy shoes you can walk in that will be kind to your feet.
Not Learning Basic Phrases In The Native Language
This is a pet peeve of mine and not necessarily a requirement, but I learned early on that it’s best to learn a few basic phrases in the native language spoken wherever you are traveling.
By not knowing how to say “thank you” in one of the first places I traveled to outside of the U.S., I made my cab driver mad and also ruined a shot at guaranteeing a ride back to the hotel when my evening was done.
These were the days before rideshare and mobile phones were few and far between. I’m pretty sure saying “thank you” in his native language would’ve made it easier to ask him to pick us up later that evening to get us back to the hotel.
It’s common courtesy to show that you are making an effort to learn the language. Plus, it builds relationships with the locals, which is always a great idea in my opinion.
Not Speaking Up On What You Want To Do
I am normally pretty “go with the flow”, especially when I travel. I hate having every second of my day planned out and would prefer trying out things I would never have thought of myself. But I’m also a planner when needed and happy to make recommendations for things to do, places to see, and restaurants to hit.
However, I didn’t start off that way. On my first few trips with my friends, I found myself not speaking up on what I wanted to do and I ended up missing out on things I really did want to do.
That’s a mistake I learned early on not to make again. Normally on a trip, I have one or two things I really want to do, and the rest I leave to my travel companions. I have no problem speaking up and advocating for what I want to do.
Most of the time, it’s stuff my friends didn’t really think about and ends up being something really fun for all of us. But when they don’t want to do the same thing I do, I’m 100% fine doing it solo.
Overall, the things I learned when I was younger and traveling near and far with my friends were great lessons that helped shape my travel experiences now. What did you learn early on in your travels that you will never do again?
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