Planning a trip can be lots of fun, but it can also be stressful. Whether you’re planning your first trip, or your 12th, it’s easy to make some of these common mistakes. These mistakes can result in extra stress, troubles, and costs.
Before planning your next trip, check out these common mistakes that travelers make when planning a trip. Being aware of these mistakes and avoiding them can help you have a positive planning experience and a fun trip!
Avoid These Mistakes When Planning Your Next Trip
1. Cramming Too Many Things Into Your Trip
It’s normal to try to jam and cram as many cities, countries, attractions, and tours into a trip as possible. After all, you don’t know if or when you’ll be back to that part of the world, so you want to see and do as much as possible. While it might seem like this is rational good thinking, it can actually result in a costly and exhausting trip.
A couple years ago I did a road trip with three friends around Italy. We wanted to see and do as much as possible in those two week. Our itinerary became packed with as much as we could fit. The result was a very rushed and stressful two weeks. We were so tight on time that we were basically just racing from one city to the next. To make up for lost time we would drive during the nights and try to sleep in the car. That just made us tired and grumpy the next day. We had to drive through a lot of cities and past scenery and landscapes because we didn’t have time to stop and explore.
At the end of the trip we all regretted not picking a few cities, or one area of Italy, to explore instead of trying to do the entire country in two weeks.
When planning a trip don’t over-pack your schedule!
2. Over-Planning Your Trip
It can be tempting to over plan a trip. It can be comforting to hold up your binder full of reservations, schedules, and brochures and think I’ve got this! There’s nothing wrong with booking accommodations ahead of time, or researching some sights you would like to see. That being said, don’t plan your trip down to the very last detail and minute. You’ll discover that some of the best things that happen on your trip are the things you didn’t plan.
There’s always a chance that something will happen that can interfere with keeping to a schedule. You sleep in by accident. You miss the train. The bus breaks down. It’s hard to plan with so many unknowns. You don’t want to end up stressed and panicked because you’re off schedule.
It can become overwhelming as you try to make sure you’re here or there at all the right times. Instead of checking your watch to see how much time till the next planned activity, or thinking about what you have to remember for tomorrow, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.
3. Not Being Flexible
It’s important to be flexible when planning a trip. It’s also important to stay flexible while traveling. While planning a trip, stay open to locations and dates. Maybe you were thinking of going to Italy but then you find a great deal on tickets to Greece. Maybe you were planning on travelling in August but you read that October is better because there are less tourists and shorter lines. Stay flexible and open to the best opportunities.
You need to give yourself the freedom to wander, to discover, and to be spontaneous. The less you have planned the more open to new opportunities, people, and events you will be. A local could give you some great advice that you didn’t expect. If they recommend a great local restaurant then why not try that. (Instead of stubbornly sticking to your plan of going to some other restaurant, trust the locals they know best!).
You could meet another traveler that you get along with, especially when travelling alone. When you find out what their travel plans are you might want to join them, even for one day. If they have already been in the area for a while they might recommend something they did and liked.
If your schedule is flexible, you can adapt to changes and make the most of your trip!
4. Not Doing Enough Research
Don’t book the first thing you find. Research, research, and then research some more. With the internet, it’s easy to compare different offers. Find not only the best deals but the best options for you. You might think you want one thing, but once you do research you might find an even better option or an even better deal. You don’t want to spend time and money on a trip only to regret that you didn’t see or do something because you didn’t take time to research all your options.
When I was planning a trip to Vietnam with friends last year it took us almost six months to plan! With two weeks in Vietnam we had to decide what we really wanted to see. Research will help insure that the places you visit are the ones you will enjoy the most. Don’t over-plan your trip, but research all the tour options to see which ones you really want to do. Book one or two in advance, and book the rest once you arrive to your destination. This way, you still have some flexibility.
5. Not Getting Off the Beaten Track
There’s nothing wrong with visiting the major cities and sights of the world, but don’t forget about the medium and smaller sized cities! Get off the beaten path and take the road less traveled. Do research and find out what are the hidden gems of a country or region. Smaller cities and lesser known attractions are often cheaper.
6. Packing Heavy Instead of Light
I used to be a horrible packer. I would pack and pack until my suitcase was ready to explode. It can be tempting to over-pack because you want to be prepared for every event. The truth is, you can’t be prepared for everything, especially when traveling. Travelling with too much luggage can be expensive and tiring. I know it can be hard to pack light but I also know the many benefits of doing so. That’s why I wrote How to Pack Light and Travel Smart and Benefits of Packing Light: 11 Reasons Not to Over-Pack.
Planned out your budget for your trip? Okay, now take that number and add 25%. I have been on a lot of trips and I’m good with my money yet I rarely, if ever, stay on budget. There are many unexpected costs that come up during a trip.
From the time you get to the airport there are baggage fees, and airline surcharges. Unexpected ATM fees, hotel service charges, car rental fees, internet charges, taxes, tips, and so on. There will be activities that you didn’t budget for but that you decide to do. Things you didn’t plan on buying because you didn’t know you needed them till you saw them.
A couple years ago I went travelling to Budapest Hungary with a friend. We got really lost trying to find our hostel. After almost two hours of looking we stopped to get something to eat. Finally we found our hostel, only to find out that the front desk person had left for the night and that we had no way of getting a key to our private dorm room. Too tired to find another hostel, we stayed at a nearby hotel. This was an extra cost that we did not anticipate, these are the types of things that happen when you travel.
Be realistic when setting your budget.
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