Planning a Trip to Europe? Beware of These Common Travel Mistakes
During my travels throughout Europe, I've certainly had some failures. So in this article, I will share these travel blunders to help you steer clear of them.
Why it is important? By understanding what to avoid, your journey can be more seamless and pleasurable. It's a valuable subject that I've yet to delve into, so without further ado, let's dive into this comprehensive list!
Overpacking is a common travel mistake, and I've certainly been guilty of it. I vividly recall struggling with a heavy packed backpack while trying to reach Eze... but at the same time it's way easier than carrying wheeled suitcase on the steps of Cinque Terre in Italy. (I bet you saw such situations on tiktok). Even on longer trips that span several months, I've realized the importance of packing light. Often, we don't even use half the items we pack.
Many seasoned travelers and bloggers advocate for traveling with just a carry-on. If that's feasible for you, it's a great way to go. But if you do decide to check in luggage, ensure it's manageable. You should be able to lift and handle it comfortably. Remember: Overburdening yourself with luggage will only lead to regrets. On the flip side, having a bag that's easy to handle always proves to be a wise choice. For those interested, I've written detailed posts on packing efficiently. They might offer some helpful insights.
2. FORGETING SUITABLE CLOTHING
When packing, consider both the climate and cultural norms of your destination. Before heading to Ireland in May, for instance, checking the forecast would remind you to bring a rain jacket. Or even if you travel in the middle of summer, just bring one extra jacket because it gets windy...Additionally, in places like Turkey, modest attire is appropriate for religious sites. Always ensure your clothing choices respect local traditions and are suitable for the weather.
3.NO TO CARRYING MEDICATIONS IN YOUR HAND LUGGAGE
Avoid a common travel mistake: placing your essential medications in checked luggage. Just keep your prescripted medication in hand luggage and be calm. Just imagine losing the checked luggage... Unforeseen delays could mean needing an extra day or two's worth of medicine. Prioritize your health; always keep vital medications within reach and carry a little extra for contingencies.
4.TRAVELING WITHOUT DOING RESEARCH
Failing to understand the local culture and history of your destination can lead to inadvertent cultural insensitivity. While you don't need to be an expert on every nuance, a basic understanding is essential to ensure you don't unintentionally offend locals. Before traveling, equip yourself with knowledge from tourism websites and guidebooks to navigate the cultural landscape with respect and awareness.
5.TOO MUCH RESEARCH
While being prepared is important, there's such a thing as over-preparation. Over-researching can rob you of the delightful surprises a destination can offer. Finding the right balance in your research is key – aim for enough knowledge to travel confidently but leave some room for unexpected discoveries. Remember, sometimes the best experiences are unplanned.
6.RUSHING TO SEE EVERYTHING
Regardless of whether you're traveling for a short week or an extended three-week vacation, constantly hopping from one place to another can be draining. Rapid travel can leave you feeling unsatisfied and exhausted. Instead of trying to see everything in a whirlwind, take the time to immerse yourself in a few places. Yes, it's possible to visit three different countries (most likely cities) in 2 days but it's too stressful and tiring. Spend a minimum of two to three nights in each destination to truly appreciate its unique essence. Remember, travel should be about deep experiences, not just ticking off places.
7.TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING
This resonates closely with the previous point. Even if you're staying in a location for several days, it's essential not to overload your itinerary. Overstuffing your day with back-to-back activities and excursions can take away from the joy of spontaneous experiences. One of the most common travel missteps is not allowing yourself the downtime to soak in the local ambiance. Perhaps sitting at a local cafe, strolling through neighborhoods, or even allowing yourself a midday rest. Instead of aiming to see everything, prioritize a few must-do activities and allow room for serendipity. Travel is as much about the unexpected moments as the planned ones.
8. NEGLECTING LANGUAGES
One significant mistake many travelers make is neglecting to learn a handful of phrases in the native tongue. While you don't need to be fluent, knowing simple words like "hello," "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome" can make a vast difference. Knowing terms like "entrance," "exit," "bathroom," and names of common dishes can also be quite handy. With the convenience of translation apps on smartphones, there's little excuse not to have a basic vocabulary at your fingertips. And remember, even if you stumble over the pronunciation, locals usually appreciate the gesture, recognizing your effort to connect with their culture.
9.NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO TIME FOR TRANSITS
When traveling, ensuring enough connection time is essential, whether flying, taking a train, or boarding a bus. For international flights to or from Europe, a 3-hour gap is recommended. Within Europe, aim for a 2-hour interval between flights, though larger airports might require more. Trust me, Western European trains (especially German) are often delayed; late or cancelled. So it's better come early rather than buy the second ticket. Proper planning reduces stress and avoids missed connections.
10.NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO THE AIRPORT
Major cities often feature multiple airports and train stations. Take Paris: it boasts two primary airports, Charles de Gaulle and Orly, and the third one - Beauvais Airport. It's crucial to confirm which one you're using. Similarly, cities like Rome have several train stations, with Roma Termini and Roma Tiburtina being predominant. Always verify your entry and exit points multiple times during booking to avoid confusion. P.S. The same goes to the meeting point. Once I was waiting for my bus not at the right meeting point so I missed my bus and I had to buy the second ticket. Sadge.
11.FORGETING CONFIRMING BOOKINGS
A common travel mistake is neglecting to reconfirm bookings. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or using a travel planner, it's vital to double-check. Errors can occur, whether they originate from you or the service provider. Reconfirming a week or so in advance can save you the hassle of unexpected surprises upon arrival. Always ensure you have your spot secured. Also, it goes to your flight tickets!
12.KEEPING ALL MONEY IN ONE PLACE
Just never never do that. Split it up your cash and store it in different spots. Do the same with credit cards. If your room has a safe, it's wise to leave some cash and a backup credit card securely locked away. I've come across travelers, like a young lady who unfortunately had her entire stash of cash stolen while out and about. Don't let that be you!
13.HAVE AT LEAST SECOND CREDIT CARD
Carrying only one credit card can be a travel pitfall. It's wise to have a minimum of two, or even three cards on hand, which should include a debit/ATM card. There can be unforeseen circumstances where one card might not work. If you truly don't want it, at least have a virtual card:)
14.NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO HIDDEN FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES
To prevent unexpected expenses, it's essential to check if your credit card imposes these fees. If it does, consider opting for a card that waives off such charges. Capital One and Chase are a few examples that offer cards without these hidden costs. Making this switch can save you a significant amount during your travels.
15.VISITING ONLY MAIN ATTRACTIONS
While iconic landmarks like Rome's Colosseum or Athens' Parthenon are must-visits, just don't restrict yourself to the famous attractions. Look at FB groups or travel blogs- everyone talks about beaten paths that are way more interesting than other regular places. A common travel oversight is limiting oneself to renowned sites and destinations. By incorporating lesser-known places into your itinerary, you enrich your travel experience and discover hidden gems.
16.HAVING TOO MUCH EXPECTATIONS
Honestly, this one is kinda the hardest. In many instances, it's beneficial to approach a journey with an open mind rather than a fixed set of anticipations. Over-expecting can sometimes lead to disappointment, especially when certain experiences don't match our imagined scenarios. Remember, some of the best moments on trips aren't planned or forced; they happen spontaneously. Embrace a flexible mindset, welcome the unexpected, and enjoy the organic flow of your travels. By doing so, not only will you likely meet your initial expectations, but you might even surpass them.
17.NOT CHECKING MOBILE PLANS
Before jetting off, ensure you consult your carrier about their international offerings. Some plans might not inherently cover overseas usage, but many providers offer the option to add temporary international packages. Particularly, verify the data allowances, as this is often a crucial need abroad. Being prepared can save you from unexpected charges and connectivity hassles during your trip.
There are three primary time zones in Europe: Western, Central, and Eastern. Portugal, Ireland, and the UK fall under the Western zone. A large portion of the continent, including major countries like Germany, France, and Italy, operate on Central European Time. Meanwhile, Finland, the Baltics, Greece, Romania, and a few others adhere to the Eastern zone. As you traverse various countries, remember that the time might shift. While many modern devices auto-adjust, it's essential to stay conscious of these changes to avoid any travel hiccups.
There's no doubt that there are countless travel missteps waiting to happen, and learning from others can be invaluable. Have you stumbled upon any failure during your European adventures? Perhaps an oversight or something you wish you'd known beforehand? Share your story in the comments below; let's collectively make travel smoother for everyone!