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11 Mistakes Every First-time Traveler Makes

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Are you ready to take your first trip abroad? It can be very exciting to plan your first trip abroad or around the world, but it is also easy to get carried away. Making a trip successful ultimately boils down to how well you plan things, and perfect planning can only come with experience. What airlines are reliable, what hotels give you the best deals, what is the best way to get around town in a different country; all these questions aren’t easy to answer when you’re a first-time traveler.

The good news, however, is that traveling around the world is no longer as difficult as it once was; air and road travel has become cheaper over the years, not to mention the availability of wireless internet in almost all major parts of the world which makes it easy to find accommodations, tourist destinations and eateries. Gone are the days when you had to find local guides and search for area maps before setting off on your quests.

Common rookie mistakes

Before you plan your next world tour, here are some things you need to be mindful of, as these are the most common mistakes first-time travelers make.

1. Over-planning

The single most common mistake that rookies make is over-planning for any trip. Yes, it is your first time and it is understandable if you want to plan your trip perfectly, down to every minute. But in reality, your trips will rarely go according to plan. Sometimes your flight might be delayed for hours, making you lose out on a skiing adventure you had planned because you’re too tired or jetlagged the other day to get out of bed. Often when sightseeing, new opportunities or adventures will present themselves and you will want to indulge – something you can’t do if your schedule is tight.

Often, it pays to have a flexible schedule. Leave many hours or even days empty on your itinerary so you can enjoy yourself without stressing over timings.

2. Relying on travel agents

Travel agents make life easier for travelers by booki9ng airline tickets or accommodations. But being middle-men, they will also drive up your traveling costs. Travel agents usually have dealings with airlines and local hotels, which means they will often recommend places where they can get commission out of you, rather than recommending the cheapest option available. It can be worth your while to look for options on your own. You can find great airline ticket prices and reasonable accommodations online without much hassle.

3. Being scammed

It is easy to get scammed when abroad, especially when you don’t understand the local culture, language or customs. No matter where you go, it is easy for locals to identify you as a first-time traveler, and as such you will be the target of various scams. Even veteran tourists find themselves scammed at one point, because professional scammers exist everywhere. The best way out of this is to never give out cash unnecessarily. You had a meal, you have to pay for it. But if someone asks you for money, offering to bring you some specialty, souvenir or guide you around town, stay away that individual.

4. Not interacting with locals

It is important to understand that not everyone is a scammer. You will find some very good people in your travels, and indeed this is what traveling is all about. Don’t be hesitant to go up to locals and talk to them, asking for advice, pictures or anything else. However much you’re nervous of them, chances are that they are nervous about meeting you as well. It is often the locals that will tell you about the best routes around town or best hotels/eateries in the city.

5. Over-packing

Rookies always make the mistake of packing too much on their first journey. Some people do prefer to live out of their suitcases, but too much luggage can more often than not bog you down. You can always buy necessities such as canned foods, toiletries, stationary and even clothes locally, so there’s no need to pack your entire house into your suitcase. Knowing from experience, additional luggage causes a lot of stress especially if you are unable to find accommodations right away. There’s also the added risk of luggage bags getting lost or stolen. Keep your necessities in a backpack that you can carry around without needing to worry.

6. Extensive itinerary

Don’t try to do everything at once; it is humanly impossible to visit every tourist attraction or indulge in every local adventure. Not only will it cost a lot, it will also take up a lot of your time and energy, leaving you tired and wanting to go home without really enjoying anything. The key is to restrict yourself to the main attractions only, and visit secondary places only if your resources allow.

7. Relying on online sources

Some newbies rely too heavily on online sources for restaurants, transportation, hotels and so on. You will not always find the best deals online. Maybe there’s a very popular street vendor that serves great snacks, but doesn’t have an online presence. Perhaps the best or most affordable hotel in the area doesn’t have an online listing. Or maybe, an online car booking service (such as Uber) charges much more than local autos who will get you around town for much cheaper. It is all down to how well you interact with the locals and how well you research an area.

8. Doing everything by-the-book

Most foreign tourists, rookies or otherwise, fall trap to this. If a local motel says it will charge $50 per night, tourists will often always resign to this price and book services at the given rate. However, it is important to understand that not everything is set in stone, and negotiations are a perfectly acceptable part of many cultures around the world. For example, cab fares in most central and southeast Asian countries are negotiable. If a hotel charges $100 per night, you can bring them down to maybe $70 or $80 if you book for an entire week. Similarly, you may be able to find a private transporter who will get you around town cheaper if you book their services for a few days. This may not work with large chain restaurants or corporate cab companies, but it more than often works with small businesses.

9. Binge buying

Yes, we understand that you want to collect as many local souvenirs or delicacies as you can when abroad, but it is important to put a cap on your spending. Only buy things that you will not find elsewhere in the world. Rookies often find themselves short of money at the end of their trips because they squandered it all on food, clothes and souvenirs.

10. Eating carelessly

One of the best things about traveling around the world is that you get to try a lot of new exotic and tasty cuisines. When trying out different foods, always put your health considerations first. Your stomach may not agree with raw Sushi from Japan, or the spicy Biryani from the Subcontinent. Or perhaps that Thai curry might contain something you’re allergic to. These foods may be delicious to eat and not necessarily unhygienic, but they can affect you in ways you may not know yet. It is advisable to try out small portions first, and only have these dishes as the main course once you’re sure your stomach will be able to handle them. Trust me, you do not want to get sick when you’re on the road.

11. Not getting insurance

It is always a good idea to take out an insurance, even if you’re just sightseeing and aren’t going to take part in risky adventures. Accidents can happen anywhere, or it is more than likely that you’ll get sick at least once. You may even find some of your luggage stolen or lost, in which case it will be worth your while to get insurance on yourself and your belongings.

When traveling around the world, make use of online tools to plan your trip and get cost estimates. Aim for popular sightseeing locations and look for great, scenic places to stay, such as Siem Reap accommodations in Cambodia where you can admire the cultural heritage and beauty of ancient Buddhist temples. Be sure not to lose out on any of the unique experiences each country or region has to offer! Good luck on your travels!

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