Travelling is a learning curve. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don't. Mistakes are inevitable along the way – from overpacking your bags to getting a regrettable tattoo – but you’ll always learn a lot from them. We reckon these are 15 mistakes everyone’s made while travelling...
1. Packing so much stuff that your bag just about shuts before you leave
Your backpack is feeling fairly light, so you decide to cram in just one extra T-shirt, and maybe a small book, and a travel towel might come in handy… Next thing you know you’re at the airport, frantically putting on as many clothes as possible to meet the cabin baggage weight allowance. Not a good look.
2. Booking a cheap early-morning flight and hating your past self
So the 2pm outbound flight would give you a nice lie-in. But the 6.35am flight costs half the price... Don’t do it. Not only will you be knackered for the first day of your trip, but public transport to an airport is generally more expensive in the middle of the night anyway, meaning you’ll end up spending the same (or sometimes even more) than the marginally pricier flight later in the day. Find out how to get the best deal on flights here.
3. Booking accommodation that says it’s “near the city centre” but definitely isn’t
Always check the map before you book, or else resign yourself to a holiday of long walks and late night taxis to your apartment in a dodgy corner of town.
4. Landing at an airport that isn’t where you think it is
“You are now arriving in London Luton” may sound exotic to a first-timer in the UK, but Brits know the truth. You’re not in London at all, but rather in the armpits of deepest Bedfordshire, 50km north of the capital. And Luton airport isn’t the only culprit. Frankfurt Hahn X airport is over 100km from Frankfurt, while Paris-Vatry is unfathomably over 150km away from the French capital. While the US seem better at this, Washington’s Dulles International is still 40km from the city.
5. Having to mime the drugs you need to a pharmacist
Didn’t pack your diarrhoea tablets? Then it’s time to play Charades at the chemist… Your sense of urgency really adds to the drama of the performance.
6. Spending ages trying to find a good restaurant and ending up going back to the first one you saw
Save your energy and trust your instincts if a restaurant looks good – there’s nothing worse than a sudden bout of hanger (angry hunger) on the first night of a trip after traipsing around for hours trying to find the perfect restaurant.
7. Taking thousands of pictures and never looking at any of them ever again
Before you take that fifth photo of a statue of a ripped god/king/horse, just ask yourself: “will I ever want to look at this photo again?” If the answer is “no”, put your camera away and stop being such a tourist.
8. Thinking you sound cultured when you attempt to pronounce foreign words correctly
“Por favor? Another plate of choreetho please.”
“We’ll take a bottle of your finest proshecco”
“Oh I had the best time in Barthelona”
Resist the temptation, you’ll only sound like a prized eedeeota.
9. Befriending the weirdo who went travelling and ended up living in a hostel
This rare breed spends most of its time convincing you to get dreadlocks and will vocally judge you for planning to “go home” after your trip or for “washing your hair”. To be avoided at all costs.
10. Saying “thank you” too early
In some countries, often in Eastern Europe, saying “thank you” when you hand money over at a restaurant is akin to giving a theatrical wink and saying “keep the change” out of the corner of your mouth.
11. Brave menu decisions
Often the most revolting foods are mischievously hidden under the guise of normal seeming names. Escamoles? Mexican ant larvae. Shirako? Fish sperm sacks – a Japanese delicacy. Balut? Fertilised duck egg served in the Philippines. By all means be brave, but just prepare yourself for the worst.
12. Getting an embarrassing tattoo
OK, so there’s a fair chance that you didn’t get a tattoo in southeast Asia. But we’re willing to bet that you’ve met someone who has a crap tattoo somewhere on their body, whether they’re willing to admit it or not.
13. Accepting every Facebook friend request
You'll end up with dozens of people you barely know ‘liking’ your posts for years to come. Including the aforementioned weirdo who went travelling and ended up living in a hostel, who spends 8 of their 9 woken hours on Facebook.
14. Refusing to accept the weather forecast
While weather forecasts can be wildly inaccurate, it’s always best to pack a waterproof and a few extra pairs of socks just in case.
15. Feeling smug when you spend every last penny of your foreign money at the airport...
… only to arrive home and unpack your bag to discover a load of stray coins that you will never spend. And then having to live with the unbearable regret that you could have afforded that singing M&M’s dispenser after all.
Words by Greg Dickinson, video edited by Colt St George.