After a few years of travelling, we realized that the more we travel, the better we get at it. I remember my first backpacking trip, I made so many newbie mistakes simply because I didn’t know any better. Yes, I’m talking about that time when I was on the train heading to Amsterdam and I realized I had booked tickets for the wrong day only when the conductor was shooing me off my seat! Although I am no travel guru, and to be honest, my packing skills still need a lot of work, I have put together a list of the top 7 things to avoid doing while travelling.
1. Avoid getting money exchanged in airports
A common mistake that people do is get money exchanged in airports as soon as they get to a new country! I even know some people that get overexcited and get the currency before they even get to the place. Instead of doing this, use your ATM card to get the local currency. They will usually give you the best rates possible without getting ripped off. Before you leave, look into getting an ATM card which won’t charge you every time you withdraw.
2. Avoid ordering western food all the time
Yes, we get that every once in a while you crave for a pizza or a burger, however, if you choose to eat this every day rather than trying the delicious local delicacies, you might as well just stay home. Be adventurous and try new things! Not only will eating local street food save you loads of money, it is also one of the best ways to see and experience a country! So drop that burrito and go have a plate of pad thai.
3. Avoid Shopping and Eating in Touristic Places
Although buying T-shirts right outside Angkor Watt seems like a great novelty, they are also more likely to double the price compared to local shopping centres. Scout around and never go for the first thing you see! This same rule applies to eating in restaurants right outside tourist attractions. In Europe, you have places that even had a tourist menu. Stay away from these places as more often than not, these places will rip you off. Instead, ask a local and get the inside scoop on where to eat and shop.
4. Avoid catching airport taxis
Airport taxis have a knack for ripping people off. If possible, avoid them at all costs. Walk a few meters outside the airport and get a taxi from there instead. If you can’t avoid them, insist that the taxi uses a meter instead of their set fare. Don’t be afraid to haggle the price down to something that seems more reasonable. Even better, look into taking the public transport as they are often the most efficient and cheapest way to get around.
5. Avoid planning things too much
Often times, people tend to make the big mistake of over planning. They book flights and hostels way in advance which leave no room for flexibility. When I was in my Euro trip, I ended up extending in Italy, for two more weeks just because I couldn’t have enough of the culture (aka. The pizza and pasta!) In fact, I have reached a point where I have stopped planning at all, apart from having a general idea of where I want to go. You can move to places depending on how you feel, the people you meet, and the how much you like the food, I mean the place.
6. Avoid acting like a tourist
As tourists in a foreign country, you become easy targets. If you walk around with your eyes glued to a map, while trying to juggle your selfie stick and your rummaging through your backpack, you might as well have a sign saying “I’m new here, rip me off!” Act confidently, don’t be afraid to ask, and most of all, lose the city T-shirt that you bought the day before!
Yes, I’m sure everyone back home would love to see what you’re doing, and part of you wants to make everyone insanely jealous, however, more often than not, we miss out on really seeing and experiencing things because we are too caught up updating our status or posting a photo on Instagram. Take a breather once in a while. Rather than trying to find out what other people are doing through Facebook, go out and actually do something. Live your experiences rather than living them through what’s posted on social media.
Traveling can be one of the best things that you can do for yourself. You will learn so much when traveling and get better at it as you go along. In the end, be street smart, use your head, and enjoy every experience that comes your way.
Anna Faustino is ½ of the travel blog, Adventure in you. She and her partner Tom met one fateful day in Vietnam and they have been together ever since. Brought together by their love for silly dance moves, good food, and discovering new cultures, they’re on a mission to go have as many (mis) adventures around the Philippines, and the world as they possibly can. Follow their journey on facebook, twitter, and Instagram as they inspire and unleash the Adventure in You.