As a tourist, when we visit any new country, all we want to do is explore the unknown, soak in the novelty around us before the days fly by.
We are carefree and end up making mistakes when travelling, but sometimes these mistakes can turn your trip into a disappointing experience.
Here are some of the most common mistakes tourists make while travelling. Let's hope someone will take a lesson from my painful personal experiences.
1. Overzealous itinerary
If you want to see the whole of Rome (or any city for that matter) in a day, think again. There is a reason why they say 'Rome wasn't built in a day.'
Regardless of how you want to see it all and are fit enough to do so, staying in a location for one night really doesn't give you enough time to explore.
You will be spending more time moving around hotels, hopping from train to bus and dragging your luggage than enjoying a new city.
We often end up drawing an over ambitious itinerary - jamming all that is there to see in our tight schedule.
Remember, you don’t need to see the whole country in one visit; planning to do so will make you feel unaccomplished.
P.S. Make sure you streamline your plans and travel in one direction rather than backtracking.
2. Over packing
I often pack in clothes that I feel I 'might' need but it just adds more weight, which I end up lugging around.
According to a survey by Travelodge, two-thirds of travelers typically return from a trip with at least six unworn outfits.
Instead, pack only what you need and know you'll use, not what you think you'll use.
You don't need a new set of clothes/shades/sandals for each day of a trip.
Once fully packed, review everything you have and try to reduce the load a little bit more.
P.S. You do not need two pair of heels - trust me.
3. Tighten caps of lotions
While we are talking about careful packing, make sure you do not lose your precious dress because of liquid soap that has leaked all over your content.
While packing small bottles of shampoo, lotions, mosturisers make sure you tighten the cap well. I have learnt it the hard way and have now devised a method to pack these liquid substances.
After you tighten the cap, seal it with clingy film from your kitchen (they are reusable) and then further secure these bottles in a zip-lock poly-bag.
4. Ditch those cheap flip-flops
It is a tough world out there for people with foot complains and back ache (surviving a day out in Dubai Mall is my ultimate boot camp).
You might buy a fancy, cheap flip-flop thinking you are just going to use it for a week or ten days. You only realise how costly it turns out when the toe strap snaps while a mile into a hike.
So, it is important to invest in a rigid, supportive shoe. Many of the foot problems worsen with soft, flexible shoes.
P.S. While buying, see that the shoe only bends at the toe, not in the middle.
5. Careful while taking directions
After whiling away our time near Arc de Triomphe in Paris, we decided to walk back to Eiffel Tower. We asked for directions from a Parisian and blindly trusted him and headed to the opposite direction.
Do not blindly trust the first direction you get from a local.
Instead, cross-check and ask more than one person for directions to the same place.
If the person hesitates or looks up like searching for an answer, kindly accept their help and look for additional help at the next street. Make sure the general consensus matches with the map you are carrying.
6. Enough time while in transit
While booking connecting flights make sure you have enough time in your hand.
When visiting a new airport, it's easy to underestimate the crowd, the several miles of concourse and the time-consuming security searches.
Instead give yourself at least a couple hours between flights to allow for any possible 'delay' (flight delay, long customs line, long distance between terminals, etc.).
7. Double check documents
While travelling, I meticulously make copies of our itinerary, tickets, booking passes and photocopy of all important documents that proves my identity.
Why I go through the hassle? Well, when your partner has all the booking details and zips through immigration but your vigilant officer wants to see all documents which you do not have, that's when you will feel the need of this hassle (again experience speaks).
Double check all your documents and bookings for errors. Make sure reservations for everything from hotels, flights, trains, buses, etc are correct. Always corroborate the time and location, and make sure they are scheduled correctly.
Also, check that your name is correctly spelled on you flight reservation.
Check visa requirements before you get turned away at the ticket counter because you were unaware of the policies changes.
8. Take note of the time difference
You might end up missing that all important Barcelona match for not accounting the different time zones when booking your trip.
Corroborate the different time zones between places 'A' and 'B', how long does it take to get there, and how many time zones are you crossing.
Factor this in your reservations' scheduling.
9. Exchange before you travel
Why bother exchanging currency even before taking the flight? You get the answer when you arrive in a new country cashless.
You might also end up spending hours hunting for an exchange centre which gives a good rate.
Forget about rates, convenience factor alone makes it worth changing a nominal amount of cash before travelling.
Exchange just enough to cover you until you get to the first ATM or good-rate exchange kiosk at your destination. Or, withdraw money from an ATM right when you get there, but try to avoid use the airport exchange kiosks. They will give you horrible rates and fees.
10. Shopping before end of tour
The general thought is - when you see something you like, just buy it and live without regret.
But do not buy an oversized artifact or stone sculpture weighing few kilos when you are only half way through your journey.
You will not enjoy lugging them around while rushing to catch the underground metro or hiking to reach your next mountain destination.