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I love to travel. I’ve taken quick trips and long trips, trips around my state and trips abroad. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that my trips are always flawless. In fact, I’ll go ahead and confess: I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my travels. Fortunately, I’ve used all of those (many) mistakes as learning opportunities and now I know things. Here’s my travel knowledge so you can know things too.
If you pack too much stuff, you won’t be able to bring extra stuff back, and when have you not wanted to bring souvenirs home? When I went to Spain, I deliberately only packed enough to fill maybe half of my suitcase, but when I came home, I had to weigh it to make sure I wouldn’t get hit with an overweight charge. I brought home wine, olive oil, and a ton of other souvenirs.
2. Wearing Cheap Shoes
When you’re traveling, most of the time you’re also going to be walking quite a bit. I’m from a suburban area where we drive everywhere, and the first time I visited a big city, my feet ended up killing me. I usually just wear flats or loafers and consider them pretty comfortable, but turns out they are not good for walking. When you’re walking further than just down the street, you should be wearing a shoe with support.
Other uncomfortable clothes also fall under this umbrella. I’ve personally learned that if you’re prone to chub rub, opt for longer shorts that protect your sensitive skin over those super-cute short-shorts.
3. Not Telling Your Bank You’re Traveling
Identity theft and fraud is a big deal, so when your bank sees charges outside of your normal stomping grounds, it’s a huge red flag and they’ll temporarily hold your account — aka keep you or anyone else from accessing your money. You can clear things up by calling your bank, but if you’re traveling abroad, a phone call isn’t always cheap.
The easiest way to handle it? Go to your bank before you leave and let them know your travel plans.
4. Booking for the Wrong Times/Dates/Locations
Err on the side of caution – if you think you have to triple check everything to get it right, quadruple check instead. Best case scenario: you catch the error ahead of time and you have to pay to change your reservations (which isn’t cheap). Worst case scenario: you don’t figure it out until it’s too late and you’re stuck scrambling to make last-minute fixes. Ask me how I know.
5. Don’t Exchange Currency at the Airport
Everything is more expensive at airports. They’re kind of the worst. Disneyland prices with a doctor’s office vibe, anyone? When you first land in a country, the airport is a convenient place to exchange currency, and it’s hard to comparison shop when you’re still waiting for your suitcase. That said, think of it this way: if a $1 soda is $4 at the airport, how high have they marked up the exchange fees?
If you coordinate with your local bank, they can typically order foreign currency so you can exchange enough money before you even leave for your trip so you won’t be scrambling to pay cab fare when you’re just trying to get to your hotel. Then, when you need more cash? Go to a bank; the fees will be much cheaper.
6. Staying on the Beaten (and Touristy Path)
When I travel, I like to mix things up. The touristy destinations are great, and typically worth seeing, but they shouldn’t be all that you see. If you’re traveling in NYC and you don’t know where to go outside of the Statue of Liberty or Central Park, ask someone at your hotel or hostel where their favorite place to eat is, or their favorite spot to get coffee. If you’re in NYC and you really want to start a conversation? Ask where you can find the best bagel.