Travel Mistakes I’ve Made and Won’t Make Again

Title: Travel Mistakes I've Made and Won't Make Again

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or occasional tourist making mistakes can be inevitable. Here are some of the travel mistakes I’ve made and won’t be making again.

Not waking up earlier

When I went on my first trip to Europe I planned it around the intersection of my schedule with my friends. He was just finishing up a choir tour in Hungary while I was heading to Kenya with my University, which gave us a three-week window to travel Europe together.Unfortunately, this meant he was already adjusted to the time zone for Budapest when my body clock was back in North America. So when I was up and ready to go at 8 in the morning, he was having a harder time. Neither of us are usually morning people so we just fell in this natural habit of sleeping in every day before heading out on the town around 10am. In Paris, this meant we had hit the Louvre later in the day which ended up being a very busy time. A travel tip I’ve heard since then is to always hit the busiest tourist spots right when they open to avoid the crowds. This is something I’m hoping to try the next time I’m in a very popular city, and if I have to I’ll just plan a nap later in the afternoon when the crowds are bad.

Crowd in front of a masterpiece at the Louvre in Paris
A crowded Louvre

Not trying very hard to make friends

I’m a fairly shy person and unless I have a reason to talk to a stranger I try to avoid it. Even then I have to be in the right mood to really want to engage them past the basic interaction I need to have with them. Unfortunately, I think this isn’t the best idea while traveling. My friend and I really didn’t meet anyone in the hostels until half way through our Europe trip because we didn’t approach anyone.

Not knowing when things are open

Another mistake we made on this same trip is not knowing what day or times things were open. We spend two days in Belgium never had a chance to hit the Museum of Musical Instruments, The Belgian Center for Comic Book Art and a few other tourist attractions because we didn’t know they’d be closed on Mondays. Had I know this ahead of time I would have planned that day as a travel day or a day to wander around the seeing other sights in the city.

Narrow street in Brussels, Belgium
Wandering the streets of Brussels

Not attempting to speak the local language

I took a year of French in University and still I avoided speaking it with people. Instead of using my visit to France as an amazing opportunity to improve my french skills I shied away from speaking or interacting with the locals. I am happy to say I have been to Quebec since then and managed to feel comfortable ordering in coffee shops and restaurant with my French skills.

Not having a specific list of things to see

Some cities I’ve visited I know I wanted to go to but didn’t know much about what to see there. Personally, I love just wandering around cities and seeing what I can find. I love stumbling upon cool art, local cafes, and anything interesting really. I kind of loved that I didn’t put pressure on seeing too many things in one day on my trips, but I also wish I had a bit more of a direction. When I was in Frankfurt,  I had no idea what there was to see besides the town square so we wandering around and saw a lot of the local churches which ended up all looking alike by the end of the day. Which brings me to my next point…

Frankfurt, Germany town square
Me in the Frankfurt town square (Römerberg)

Not taking advantage of free walking tours

In Europe, in particular, it seems that every major city has free walking tours. This is especially great if you only have a limited amount of time in that city before moving on. I don’t really know if it was my desire to do things on my own during my first trip to Europe, or not wanting to look like a lame tourist but I didn’t take advantage of any of these tours which I now regret.

 

What about you? What are some travel mistakes you have made that you are hoping to avoid on your next trip or adventure? I’d love to hear about them. Keep connected with me on  Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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10 Comment

  1. Erica says: Reply

    I tend to not have set plans when traveling overseas because I never know how the time change will impact me. I’m sure I miss a lot, but there is something to be gained by just wondering and see what you find. I’ve been to London twice and still haven’t seen the major sites, but I’ve enjoyed my trips and still want to go back again. I’m not the best at putting myself out there in new situations either, so I can definitely relate to your story.

    1. Rachel Simmet says: Reply

      As long as you’ve enjoyed your trips that’s the important part!

  2. Sarah says: Reply

    Free walking tours are the best! Some of my biggest travel mistakes are taking the longest (cheapest) flight path or mode of transport to save money, not wanting to spend money (like entry fees for example or to try local adventure sports), dressing incorrectly when I’ve happened upon beautiful churches and been unable to enter, and not speaking up in a group when I’ve really wanted to do something!

    1. Rachel Simmet says: Reply

      Yes! I’m sure we’ve all done things to same money, just have to balance that with doing what we actually want and see amazing sights.

  3. Ohhhhh I have made most of these mistakes as well! Another one I’ve done recently is not preparing for NOT having wifi/cell service (ie not looking up addresses, reviews, phone numbers etc and then realising I need them when I’m somewhere without service and no accessible wifi!)

    1. Rachel Simmet says: Reply

      Oh I’m sure that’s a easy one to make nowadays!

  4. A few of these totally resonate with me even though I consider myself to be a seasoned traveler. My last trip was to Toronto and I totally missed my opportunity to go to one of the art museums because it was closed on Mondays. I feel like this is a mistake I’ll need to make a few more times and then I’ll finally learn my lesson for good lol

    1. Rachel Simmet says: Reply

      I have to admit I’ll probably make some of these again. Also, I guess Monday will have to be a designated relaxing day from now on. That when places seem to not be open. 🙁

  5. taylor says: Reply

    really great post! i’ve definitely made a few of these mistakes too

  6. Therie says: Reply

    Speaking the local language is a plus and the locals will definitely appreciate the effort!

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