7 Mistakes You'll Make While On a Big Trip, And Why They're Okay
Making mistakes is just part of the travel experience.
Traveling overseas is every bit as romantic as we make it out to be. You grab your passport and you find yourself tucked away into dusty cafes with complicated-sounding desserts, in winding streets opening up to cathedrals, on top of mountain trails that open up to glaciers and sky. Traveling opens up the world to you—one that’s filled with street names you can’t pronounce and memories you can’t wait to get your hands on—but with it comes a learning curve.
There will always be a few blunders tucked between the great moments, whether they’re small like forgetting your hostel deposit behind, or big like forgetting your wallet behind. Below are seven mistakes you’ll make while on a big trip—and why it’s totally okay you make them. With mistakes comes experience!
1. Overbooking Before The Trip Begins
When planning something so far away from home, you want to make sure your bases are covered. You want a roof over your head, a train to take you there, and a cozy place to fill up your belly. While it’s good to have those options ready, it’s not necessarily the wisest idea to book it all ahead of time.
Things change, plans get shuffled around. Maybe your flight gets cancelled because of weather. Maybe you fall in love with one city in particular and want to poke around its neighborhoods a week longer. Or what if it's not the city you're falling in love with, but a handsome man with kind eyes? And you have a train with your name on it ready to leave in less than twenty four hours. What then sister friend? Are you going to just leave your Argentine behind like that? You're going to have to if you have a month’s worth of trains and hostels pinned down and purchased. You take out the spontaneity and adventure out of your trip when you plan too much.
That and you take out the opportunity to haggle. Prices online are fixed, but hostel prices in person can be persuaded down. Maybe you came to town during a lull time, or maybe you’re a charmer and can get a couple of bucks shaved off with your smile and kind words. And if that doesn’t work you can always shrug your shoulders, hitch up your backpack and walk away…and listen to the sweet sound of the owner sighing, and calling you back.
2. Not Researching Cheaper Options
Sure, staying in an Airbnb cottage in the highlands of Ireland sounds every bit as romantic as a Nora Roberts novel. You can just imagine waking up in dusty sunlight, yawning, and padding barefoot to the kitchen to look over the green hills as you put the kettle on. Lovely.
But a hostel would be a quarter of that price. Which means you have all that extra cash money left over for pastries, bus rides, and trinket shops. Also lovely.
Same thing goes for transportation. Arriving in Hanoi for the first time? Great, you hopped into a cab and it took you to Old Town for only $25—what a deal! Wrong, it was supposed to only cost you $15. Did you not notice passing that pho shop three times? And if you took a bus, it would cost less than a dollar. Welcome to Vietnam, you’ve been part of your first scam.
Research, research, research and have your numbers ready. That way your money will stay where you want it: in your fanny pack.
3. You Don’t Check Reviews
On the flip side, you’ve done your research and you have your lists with addresses and quotes…but you’re so focused on that dollar sign that you forget to take a gander at reviews and forewarnings. Which is why you’re now standing in the lobby of a hostel clutching your backpack to your chest, watching someone enter a bathroom with no door and two toilets, eyeing a shoe box you're pretty sure is acting as a cash register, and trying not to stare at picture of Putin hanging proudly on the wall in front of you. This is Cambodia so you’re really confused how Vlad made his way here.
If you read the review, you’d know how.
4. You Get Swept Up With Penny Pinching
If you’re traveling for a while (or if your Slavic mother raised you to be cheap, a la me) you’ll fall into a habit of watching your dollars, and very protectively. To the point where you find yourself haggling over nickels with the pineapple stand woman, digging in your heels like you’re about to be taken for a ride by a grade-A swindler. Calm down, just give her the nickel. At this point she thinks you're crazy, I think you're crazy, you think you're crazy. You have plenty of cents left.
5. You Get Flustered And Overpay
Or, on the flipside, you get so flustered with your new surroundings that you hand over your fanny pack on a silver platter. One time I rolled into Mumbai on a 2am train and—confused, tired, sweaty—I stumbled out to the main street and was flocked by 30 taxi drivers. Not really caring where I went as long as my head hit a pillow and soon, I went with the first one and was driven to a place I could only call Hotel Transylvania. I had to climb roughly 103 stairs to get to the lobby, was greeted by Count Dracula himself, was quoted a price three times the rate I was used to paying, and was told all this while a cockroach scurried across my passport on the counter. Right.
I booked it. And on top of that, I tipped the bellboy who didn’t carry my bags and just pointed “up” indicating where my fourth story room was, because I was so frazzled and mad. Like, “Here, I hate you guys. Take some more of my money. I said take it.”
So yea, be prepared for that.
6. You’ll Hate Your Best Friend At One Point For No Reason
Travelling with friends? Be ready for your friendships to end, at least for an afternoon. There’ll be mornings where you wake up and just stare at each other like a married couple that has been sleeping in different rooms for the past decade, and you won’t know why. Just accept that you hate the sight of their very face at that moment, and that it’ll pass come lunch time.
And if that doesn’t work, say you’re going for a walk and walk yourself to a train platform and go to a different country, sans backpack and their annoying whining.
JK don’t do that. You’ll be fine again, I promise.
7. Souvenirs Will Become Your Crack
Trust me, just don’t do it. You’ll be poking around India, or Austria, or Bolivia, and you’ll come across a tie-dye dress or fertility mask or rain stick and you’ll just have to have it in your life. Take my word for it, don’t do it. I’m telling you this as I’m looking at a monkey carved out of a coconut on my desk. Cute? Sure. Do I sometimes want to throw it out the window because it’s killing my apartment’s vibe? Yep.
Buy yourself one trinket and leave it at that. Don’t buy a new suitcase so you can have a place to keep all your Happy Buddhas and llama plushies. Or, fine, do it. Do it and then remember these words float back to you as you try to find a cute place to put that three-foot guardian mask. Remember these words as you decide, “behind the couch.”