Even the pros fall prey to common rookie travel mistakes. From overscheduling to buying too many heavy souvenirs, they share 7 mistakes they made during their first few international trips.
1. Trying to wing it
“Thinking I could “wing it” with limited time – When we had one day to spend in Nice before our flight home, we ended up wandering aimlessly up and down the waterfront and eating in a really touristy restaurant. I should have hired a guide or done more advance research to make better use of our time, especially since we had two young kids to entertain.” –Suzette Mack
Solution: Ask your travel advisor to arrange for a guide or give you suggestions for what to do.
2. Not sleeping on the flight
“Being so excited I was going to Europe that I stayed up the ENTIRE flight by choice…..I paid for it the rest of the trip!” –Louisa Gehring
“Biggest rookie mistake is not sleeping as much as possible! Get comfy right away, skip the meal service (but carry protein bars!), drink water only, wear earplugs and an eye mask, and get to sleeping.” –Martha Rhodes
3. Bag too heavy during train travel
“BIG Mistake: buying so many bottles of olive oil, soaps, perfume, limoncello, & lotions BEFORE taking our last train in Italy. Hiking all that stuff up the train platform and into the luggage cart was not easy.” –Debbie Fairvalley
Solution: be cautious when buying souvenirs. If you know you want to bring back heavy items, wait as long as possible before purchasing.
4. Too many activities on arrival day with children
“Don’t plan anything on arrival day. I planned an afternoon gondola rowing lesson in Venice – assuming my children would nap on the plane or when we arrived, and that wasn’t the case. I wanted to have something planned so I could take advantage of everything. But that first day, especially with children, should probably remain “free”. One child rowed with me and the other slept in the hotel.” –Ginny Mabry
Solution: Understand that jet lag can leave children—and adults—dragging on the first day (especially if you make mistake #2). Plan low key activities, an early dinner, and an early bedtime so you can hit the ground running on day 2.
5. Weighing yourself down with heavy souvenirs
“Bringing home heavy breakable souvenirs such that I could not pick up my suitcase. Always bring home light, small, non-breakable things for friends and family, and always be able to PICK up your suitcase” –Rebecca Falkenberry
Solution: You might find the most beautiful pottery in your destination, but trying to cram a set of plates in your bag can put you over the weight limit (hello heavy baggage fees!) and they can break. If you fall in love with a heavy, breakable item, ship it home. You’ll love getting it in the mail after your trip!
6. Trying to do it all yourself
“Though we had an amazing month long honeymoon in Spain, we spent way too much time driving ourselves. In hindsight, choosing to spend more time in fewer places is always better!” –Susan Whitson
Solution: Self-drives are fabulous ways to experience a country and have the freedom to stop and go as you please. They are also roots of stress if you get lost. Make sure you have plenty of time if you want to self-drive and that there is a GPS.
“You can and will wear things more than once when you travel. You’re traveling, not walking the runway. Leave space in checked bag for lightweight souvenirs. A large, divided purse along with an expandable Longchamp bag is great for your carry-ons. Also, it’s nice to put small bags in carry-on with essentials (chapstick, hand-sanitizer, lotion, earphones) for easy access.” –Winn Harris
Solution: Over-packing is a rookie mistake that can still plague even the most seasoned travelers. Avoid it by packing neutrals that can be worn more than once and bringing accessories that take up minimum space to add pops of color or patterns.
But of all of these mistakes, the biggest one you can make is not going. The world awaits you, so don’t put off travel – make your “I’ll go someday” a “I’ll go today!”