Reflecting back on the last five months of my round the world trip, there are some common travel mistakes that I have made and today, I would like to share these with you, so that you can learn from them.
Forgetting about travel time
Until you start travelling you do not realise how vast some countries are. While visiting Thailand I had not factored in the travel time getting from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train and Bangkok to Koh Tao by coach and ferry. With hindsight I would have flown to cut down the travel time. Travelling long term can be exhausting, and spending time travelling means you lose out on the spontaneous trips.
Not having relaxing days
Exhaustion can creep up to you when you’re continuously travelling from one country to another, so, it’s important to take days out where you relax, and unwind. Most people who abandon there round the world trip (it does happen) because they’re either exhausted or have spent their budget; this is why slow travel is the best way to travel long term.
Travelling at peak times
This is a recent mistake that I have made – travelling through the USA in July and August is going to be incredibly expensive as hotel prices are going to be high due to demand and volunteering opportunities are rare. Where possible avoid peak times including the high season and bank holidays, as this can blow your travel budget out of the water.
Rushing through destinations
It happens, you think three days is enough to see the best of a city, but in reality you’re only scratching the surface. It’s one of my biggest regrets, missing so much out on cities like Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. Going back to factoring in the travel time; if you plan to stay for three days, realistically you’re only going to get one day to properly explore, as you’ll be travelling in and out for the other days.
Booking too far in advance
Your plans change, you will end up falling in love with one particular place, and want to stay longer, but you’ve booked hotels, flights for the next month. It happens, believe me. While it might make you nervous, the trick is to plan just a week at a time, it can save you a lot of money in the long run. The only thing to bear in mind is that if you are booking during a bank holiday, or during a popular event, you might run into problems, so factor that into your planning.
While travelling you see it all the time, travellers with huge backpacks, carrying everything but the kitchen sink. Having travelled for five months with one 46-litre backpack, I can honestly say, travelling light is the only way to travel. No checking the bag in at airports, no waiting for your luggage to appear at the baggage claim. The downside is that you do need to wash your clothes more often, but it is hardly an inconvenience.
Going over budget
Guilty! It’s a mindset thing; you’ve spent three months in SE Asia and you’re well under budget, so when you arrive in Australia, you think you can blow some of the money on items you don’t really need – to then find out six weeks later that you have over spent. It’s also very easy to get blasé about budgeting and not log the money you’ve spent.
Thankfully, this hasn’t happened to me so far, but it is so easy to mis-type your surname, choose the wrong dates, or, even the wrong airport. It happens, and I have heard some horror stories in the past where travellers have booked a flight, only to realise at check-in that one of the travelling party has a different name on their passport to the booking. It can be a very costly mistake, so check and double-check the details.
While I am not guilty of travelling uninsured, many people do, and it is only until an incident happens that they regret the decision. Also, where a lot of people fall foul is participating in adventurous activities knowing that their insurance policy does not cover them. It’s worth paying the extra money rather than worrying all the time if you’re going to have an accident and have to fork out for the medical bills. It is not worth it.
Sticking to the tourist trail
Guilty as charged! While in SE Asia I spent so much time going to the popular tourist attractions and feel I missed out on so much. Travelling off the beaten path is something that needs to be done when you’re travelling; meet and talk to locals, learn about the local culture, experience the place like a local person. Which is why volunteering is something that everyone should do while travelling.
Hopefully, this article will help avoid the mistakes that I and many other travellers make as you travel round the world.