Travelers Talks: What can you learn from travel mistakes?

We all learn from our mistakes… Probably there is no one who hasn’t heard this phrase at least once in a life. Mistakes are part of our lives, we all make them, and the best what we can do to avoid them in the future is to draw conclusions from them. When the anger and frustration stop, it’s good to sit down, calmly look at what happened, analyze that and take lessons from it. The great thing is that you can analyze not only your mistakes but others as well! Stay with us and find out what you can learn from travel mistakes that someone else made.

In this Travelers Talks episode, you’ll read stories from our fellow travelers about mistakes they made, what they’ve learned from them, and what advice they have for you to minimize the risk of making them. At the end of the post, you’ll also find our take on that topic. Without further ado, let’s dive in!

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”- Albert Einstein

What can you learn from travel mistakes? | Travelers Talks Episode 8
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Travelers Talks: What can you learn from travel mistakes?

Some time ago on Twitter and Facebook, we asked our fellow travelers for advice, and here it’s what we got in return. 

Cam & Ana from Nomadic Gregors | Travelers Talks Ep8

Cam & Ana from Nomadic Gregors

Website | Instagram | Twitter  

Write a few words about yourself – who you are, and what you do. 

We are Cam and Ana and we come from two different countries (Cam – US & Ana – Dominican Republic) and have visited over 30 countries! We are expat teachers who’ve lived in six different countries (the US, Dom. Republic, China, Russia, Korea, & Saudi Arabia) over a 14-year period. We teach (and have taught) both elementary and middle school (history) to students from around the world, usually, students whose parents live and work abroad as well. 

What mistakes did you make while traveling? What do you think led to them?

One mistake we have certainly made, when younger, was not financially planning for our trips. We would travel and charge flights, hostels, or hotels to our credit cards to accrue points without thinking or considering how we would pay for them. Living abroad and being young contributed to this as the opportunities are too good to pass up sometimes living in a new country. And when working abroad, you can feel as though your money doesn’t work the same way as it does back home or that you don’t have quite the same responsibilities (for us we didn’t as our employer usually covers housing, insurance, utilities, etc.) so it’s easy when you’re young to be smart with an influx of cash. Not saving for our trips definitely set us back on our overall financial goals and it’s something we would do differently if we could, though we certainly don’t regret the trips themselves. 

Another mistake we’ve made is occasionally not listening to tour guides or using a guide in locations where our background knowledge is scant. As history teachers, we often think we have enough prior knowledge to cover any history we take in or that a guide is just for the inexperienced. This comes down to a bit of humility and bravado on our part. We pride ourselves on being good educators and having strong background knowledge, but the truth is, there’s so much we don’t know and there’s much to be learned!

Finally, a mistake we can tend to make is not researching a city or country beforehand. I, Cameron, tend to travel on a whim. I find a place, go there, and look to wander and just explore. Part of this is my personality and part is because the lure of something new and unexplored is exciting, but it can also cause strife when traveling with others if there’s no real plan. It’s a bit like asking someone, “What do you want to eat?” and they respond with “I don’t know, what do you want to eat?” It can go back and forth until you can get upset with each other. 

What have you learned from your travel mistakes?

Our first mistake, not planning our trips financially, is that you can easily put yourself in debt…a lot of debt and very quickly. We have since learned (age, experience, and better salaries help quite a bit), to save for each trip we take. The relief and excitement of a trip anywhere can very quickly get bogged down with the stress of knowing you’ll have to pay for it somehow or face the consequences. As such, we’ve become much better at planning and saving for each trip. 

Our second mistake is we’ve learned from our hubris and accepted we don’t know as much as we thought we did. We recently took a group of students to Greece where we had a guide for the majority of our trip. I learned so much more than I could have thought possible. Not just about Greece’s history, but in the many subtle ways it continues to drive and affect us today. We realized that sometimes a guide is a good thing! We still don’t often use guides, but we’ve come to realize that it can be a good idea.

What we’ve learned from our last mistake (or rather what I have learned) is that in order to reduce conflict when traveling, I need to plan better. One key to a strong marriage is good, strong communication, and traveling with others is no different. You need a course of action to take and follow so there is direction for those who require it. Yet you should still have one that allows for whimsy and exploration. When you’re traveling, the last thing you want is conflict or argument. We’ve learned to find a better balance in doing this, but still have a long way to go.  

What is your advice for travelers in regard to the mistakes that they may make while traveling? 

Be open-minded. Everywhere has something to offer you even if you think it doesn’t. By spending time in a place, you will learn so much more than you thought possible. This goes beyond the obvious items such as food or language. It goes into the realm of thought. In 14 years of being an expat and 20 years of traveling, I’ve learned not just about other cultures, but to think more critically about my own culture and ways of doing things. It’s made us more open, more empathetic, and more considerate. We often tell other teachers looking to move abroad that just because a place doesn’t sound like somewhere you want to live, doesn’t mean it won’t be once you get there. Travel can change you, but that change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, experience, exposure, and a willingness to learn and make mistakes. 

We also want to have travelers travel whenever they can, but do so responsibly. This means don’t be like us and rack up tons and tons of debt. There are TONS of great ways to travel on a budget if that’s what you need. That said, we DO want others to travel. Exposure to new places helps make you a better person and to make the world a better place. And don’t be as cocky as we can be either. Visit and explore knowing there’s so much to learn and take in. Every place is different and you can ALWAYS learn something new. 

Finally, have a plan, but don’t be afraid to wander the unknown. While we plan out our travels now, part of that planning includes days spent trekking through the hills or through amazing alleys or streets in a new city. These explorations often lead to some of the best discoveries from sites you would never have considered seeing to finding a small cafe or restaurant you absolutely love. 

Richard from One Planet Journey | Travelers Talks Ep8

Richard from One Planet Journey

Website | Instagram | Twitter 

Write a few words about yourself – who you are, and what you do. 

Hi, I’m Richard Lindberg, an entrepreneur, and traveler from Sweden. I run the digital magazine One Planet Journey where we aim to show how sustainable travel and tourism go hand in hand with exclusive, personalized, and deluxe experiences. In essence, slow travel, off-season travel, staying longer, more in-depth exploration and interaction with the local community, etc. 

Me and my wife Maral just came back from spending the winter in Lisbon, Marbella, Nice, and Sorrento so expect a lot of tips and guides coming to the magazine. We also do interviews with destinations and brands in the travel space who we feel are pushing the envelope when it comes to different aspects of sustainability, be it environmental, social, or cultural. I come from a business background and founded several tech startups, but more and more I find myself drawn to a life of exploration.

What mistakes did you make while traveling? What do you think led to them?

With family in many places around the world, traveling has been part of my life from day one. I’m a bit obsessed with speed and doing as much as possible in the shortest possible time. This has served me well in many areas, for example in business, but for travel, it left me feeling a bit hollow. We all have our bucket lists and I plan them diligently with Excel sheets and routes to maximize the whole trip. That is mistake number 1. Don’t cram too much into your plans and end up with conveyor-belt tourism. 

Mistake number 2 has to do with another obsession – heat. I love the summer and only the summer. Detest winter and have nothing positive to say about spring or autumn. This meant I ended up traveling when everyone else is, the peak summer months. And every time you end up in massive crowds, wasting time and not feeling the excitement of the destination. At the same time, you contribute to over-tourism plaguing popular haunts, making it unbearable for the locals as well as fellow travelers. 

Mistake number 3 – ignoring the less known sights. This is kind of related to both mistakes 1 and 2. A razor-sharp focus on seeing the heavy hitters meant that there was little time over for the less heralded sights. I’m a guidebook fanatic and so crossing off the top lists in each city became like a sport. 

What have you learned from your travel mistakes?

About 10 years ago, the mistakes made above started to dawn on me. I wasn’t enjoying my travels as much as before. Maybe it comes with age and some wisdom picked up during life, anyway I started following and researching topics like slow travel, and eventually ended up fascinated by the world of sustainable travel and tourism. Reading blogs and accounts from people who traveled this way opened up my eyes to a more meaningful pursuit where the old cliche of it’s about the journey, not the destination, started making sense. 

I learned to take time and go deeper into the world I found myself in, making friends in new places, living there longer, and feeling more part of the local scene than a tourist. It led to reduced stress trying to fit everything into a crazy schedule and by also having the time to visit more places, off the beaten track, I started seeing the connections between the destinations I visited. Traveling has become educational and I love that. The biggest benefit has come from traveling in the off-season. The benefits are tremendous, no more waiting in line and the temperatures aren’t as bad as I expected. 

What is your advice for travelers in regard to the mistakes that they may make while traveling? 

I know I’m not the only one who made the mistakes of overstuffing their schedule, battling the crowds, and spending hours in line for an in-demand attraction. There is another way and I highly recommend everyone to take a moment to reflect on their last trip and ask how it could have been better. You spend a lot of money on trips and they are supposed to be relaxing and give you memories of a lifetime. Are they? If not, maybe it’s time for a change. For your next adventure, try something new, a lesser visited destination, maybe stay longer and try working remotely if your work situation affords you this luxury, or why not go off-season and have the masterpieces of the world more or less to yourself. You won’t regret it. I promise.    

Aly & Mike from AM Travel Life | Travelers Talks Ep8

Aly & Mike from AM Travel Life

Website | Twitter | Instagram  

Write a few words about yourself – who you are, and what you do. 

We’re Aly and Mike, a couple of travel bloggers from Canada traveling the world sharing our tips and tricks to help you travel more for less. We love our community and would love to help more of you reach your dream destinations. We look forward to connecting with you soon!

What mistakes did you make while traveling? What do you think led to them?

Overpacking: it’s so easy to overpack for your next adventure. We get it! You want to pack all of your favorite clothes and it’s hard to decide what to leave behind. The trouble is, when you do this, you end up with a lot more than you need and you end up lugging it around without ever using it. Of course, not knowing what the weather will be like is always a big challenge. 

Not calling your bank before a trip: You get so excited to go on your trip that you forget to call your credit card company or bank before you go. You arrive at your destination, go and use your card, and it’s declined. You’re locked out and are now scrambling to find another way to pay at the cashier. It’s so easy to avoid this, so before you leave please call ahead of time and notify them so they don’t suspect a scam charge. 

Forgetting a portable charger: The last thing you want to do is run out of battery on either your phone or camera and miss out on any photo opportunities. This is critical to staying charged and being connected to the world. We use our phones for everything these days so a charger is definitely recommended. 

What have you learned from your travel mistakes?

We learned that there is always a way to do things better. Be better prepared, better organized, and have better ways to go about traveling. From handy gadgets to packing tips, to even travel advice, the more you travel, the more you learn. Of course, this is like anything in life. You get better with practice and hopefully, with more help from experienced travelers you too can avoid these same mistakes!  

What is your advice for travelers in regard to the mistakes that they may make while traveling? 

Don’t take anything too seriously. After all, it’s just travel. It isn’t brain surgery so just remember to have fun. Yes, mistakes will happen and you’ll forget a few things here and there, but don’t stress about it. Find a solution and move on with your day. You don’t want to dwell on something that eventually ends up affecting your entire trip. No trip is 100% perfect so remember you’re not alone. 

Tom from Tom Henty’s Travel | Travelers Talks Ep8

Tom from Tom Henty’s Travel

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Write a few words about yourself – who you are, and what you do. 

I am Tom, a keen traveler who runs a growing travel blog. I currently work as an Operations Manager in an online business in the UK, but I am working hard on personal side projects to create a more streamlined digital nomad life. I have visited 37 countries and 6 continents so far and want to visit over 100 in my lifetime. Mostar, in Bosnia, is my favorite city, but Thailand is my favorite country. I solo traveled for the first time in 2022 on a 10-day Balkans adventure, which helped me develop high levels of self-confidence and discovered my purpose as a travel blogger. I am now working hard every day through learning, writing, and networking to be successful in this industry.

What mistakes did you make while traveling? What do you think led to them?

The first mistake I made was traveling with too much luggage. When I was younger I would travel with friends often, who would usually be taking large suitcases on trips so I would find myself doing the same. I experienced a couple of difficult situations through taking my case. On my 4-day trip to New York, my case didn’t turn up until day 3 of the trip, which meant a trip to Macy’s was due to buy two sets of new clothes (Not cheap!). Then in Ho Chi Minh City, my case was put on the wrong conveyor belt which led to an hour of frustration and anxiety in the airport. Not a great start to my first trip to Vietnam.

Another common travel mistake I have made is not purchasing a local sim card when in a new destination. This has been costly in the past through expense and lack of flexibility to use my phone for maps etc when in rural areas.

What have you learned from your travel mistakes?

The two lessons are actually contrasting. On one hand, I have learned to not plan so much in terms of luggage. Just take my one backpack and go with the flow, whether it is to pop down to the local laundry shop for a few hours one day or just buy some cheap clothes from the local bazaars. I also get satisfaction from giving some clothes away if they do not fit into my minimalist approach to travel when moving on to a new destination. 

However, I have learned to plan certain things that save a lot of money, time, and hassle. Just by purchasing local sim cards in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand, and Bosnia, I have managed to travel a lot more efficiently by having better network signals, and no anxiety around potential large phone bills upon my return home. On a long bus journey, a local 5G sim can be an absolute game changer.

What is your advice for travelers in regard to the mistakes that they may make while traveling? 

When starting out on your personal lifelong travel adventure, the world is your oyster. The best learning always comes from mistakes and experiences, and the beauty of time means that your perspectives change as you grow older and experience more of our wonderful world. My advice is to try many things on your travels and be happy to make some mistakes as you go, as those mistakes might take you down a new road which can be the best thing to happen to you. I ended up trying solo traveling due to wanting different things from the friends I have traveled with and it turned out to be the best thing I have ever done. Of course, be vigilant and prepared as you explore new places, but don’t get hung up on mistakes that may cost you some money or short-term happiness – think of the bigger lifelong travel picture!

Sydney from Sydney to Anywhere | Travelers Talks Ep8

Sydney from Sydney to Anywhere

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Write a few words about yourself – who you are, and what you do. 

I’m Sydney, a solo traveler who wants to inspire you to explore the world. Let my adventures be proof that the only person you need to make your dreams come true is you!

What mistakes did you make while traveling? What do you think led to them?

Recently, I learned a lot about my capacity for discomfort when traveling alone. I went on a well-planned, thoroughly researched solo trip to Morocco. I went on the trip feeling so confident thanks to all my preparation, but when I arrived, I faced an emotional reality that took me by surprise.

I had a tough time dealing with the culture shock of visiting my first Muslim country and struggled to process my experiences all on my own. Plus, other travelers were more guarded, and thanks to my desire to stay in a beautiful Riad, (worth it, by the way) I didn’t meet people easily like I might have at a hostel.

Even though Morocco is generally a safe and tolerant country, I just wasn’t prepared for how out of my comfort zone I’d be pushed by the daily attention from men, the pushy shop owners and my sense of safety. I ended up feeling very isolated.

What have you learned from your travel mistakes?

I love solo travel and am quite experienced. After navigating Colombia on my own without any issues, I figured I could go just about anywhere. However, I really underestimated how different parts of the world can be. This trip taught me that just because I’m capable of navigating a new country on my own doesn’t mean that it will offer me the most valuable experience.

Ultimately, I wish I’d gone on a group tour so that I had other travelers with that I could discuss all the thoughts and feelings this trip brought up for me. Traveling is a world-expanding endeavor and even though it’s fun and amazing, there are some difficulties as well, especially when you’re alone.

As someone who values curiosity and open-mindedness, I was surprised to find that my perception of safety was strongly influenced by American media. Islamic culture is often portrayed as something to fear, leading me to a knee-jerk reaction of apprehension. While this was a sobering realization, it prompted me to reflect on the media I consume and the unconscious biases that may be clouding my judgment. It’s crucial to confront these biases and strive for a more understanding and empathetic perspective.

What is your advice for travelers in regard to the mistakes that they may make while traveling? 

Sometimes mistakes are unavoidable. After all, making mistakes is how we grow and learn. No mistakes? No learning. So firstly, don’t be too hard on yourself when you mess up. Secondly, for any solo travelers out there, I highly recommend familiarising yourself with that part of the world by going on a tour first. Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East… each of these regions has nuances that make doing your first visit alone difficult. While a challenge is always great, take the time to evaluate whether or not it’s the right challenge for you!

Kate from Kate Abroad | Travelers Talks Ep8

Kate from Kate Abroad

Website | Facebook   

Write a few words about yourself – who you are, and what you do. 

I’m a travel writer and blogger from New Zealand, previously based in Sydney and now living in London. I’ve visited over 30 countries across six continents and counting and I share tons of travel guides and tips on my site Kate Abroad. When not traveling or planning a trip you’ll find me training for my first marathon, perfecting the perfect cup of coffee, or chilling out with a romance novel.

What mistakes did you make while traveling? What do you think led to them?

On my first solo trip to Asia, I planned a whole itinerary out and pre-booked a bunch of activities online through tour sites like Viator and Get Your Guide. I figured since I had done all my research and knew what I wanted to do already then I would just go ahead and lock it in. Plus there were some FOMO concerns as I didn’t want things to book up and end up missing out. However, as it it turned out once arrived in Thailand that there were tons more options for each activity that hadn’t been available online (for example 5+ cooking schools in Chiang Mai compared to 2-3 that took online bookings) and all of the options (including those I’d seen online) were cheaper when booking in person at a hostel or tour desk in town. 

I ended up wasting a fair bit of money this way by overpaying for activities. And while most of the things I’d booked were busy (if not 100% full), most of my fellow travelers had booked less than 24 hours beforehand so there was no real risk of missing out by doing the same.

What have you learned from your travel mistakes?

After this experience, I try to avoid pre-booking activities as much as possible. Especially in non-English speaking countries, it’s more likely that some perfectly good providers just don’t have an English website or aren’t listed on tour aggregator sites. I still research the types of activities available and have a rough idea of which ones I’d like to do on which days but now I save the actual booking until the day of arrival in the relevant city. The one exception is where ‘m on a super tight timeframe and traveling in peak season so can’t afford to take the risk of missing out on the spot. Even then I will try to wait until at least the week off so I know if the weather is likely to interrupt plans.

What is your advice for travelers in regard to the mistakes that they may make while traveling? 

Try and avoid pre-booking where possible. Instead, go to tour desks in the main areas of the towns you arrive in and book your activities in person. This way you get the best price (it’s often possible to bargain down the price in person too) and you don’t waste money on outdoor activities when there’s bad weather. You can also check with your hotel/hostel if they have recommended operators or discount offers so you increase the chance of getting the best experience at a great price.

Ashlea from She Roams About | Travelers Talks Ep8

Ashlea from She Roams About

Website | Instagram

Write a few words about yourself – who you are, and what you do. 

I’m Ashlea, a Northern Irish-Canadian travel writer and Mexico expert. I spent 10 years in the travel industry working for tour operators and travel companies planning custom adventures and luxury trips. I was fortunate that this work allowed me to live and travel all over the world and become an expert traveler. In 2021 I decided to open my expertise to a wider audience by starting She Roams About, a website where I share my experiences traveling Mexico solo. I am a firm believer that the only way to truly learn about a place is by visiting, so I travel all over Mexico so I can share honest, first-hand experiences and advice with my readers and help other travelers explore the places I love.

What mistakes did you make while traveling? What do you think led to them?

Sometimes when you come from an English-speaking country like the US or Canada it’s easy to forget that the whole world doesn’t speak your language. And while I’ve traveled to forty different countries I’d always managed to dodge the dreaded language barrier, that is until I went to Mexico for the first time. I had decided to spend a couple of months working remotely from Mexico and my first stop was an out-of-the-way beach town in Oaxaca. 

My trip was off to a rocky start when I immediately had issues with my accommodation which was almost impossible to resolve without speaking Spanish. With poor internet signals hampering my use of a translation app, I felt totally helpless. Before arriving in Mexico I had spent a lot of time preparing for what to pack and what I’d like to see and do but the notion of not speaking the language hadn’t occurred to me. I hadn’t taken any time to learn any basic Spanish phrases, pick up a phrasebook, download an offline translator, or find a cheat sheet. Nothing. 

And now here I was, day 1, standing in a small town in Mexico with a pink suitcase and nowhere to sleep. Over the next few months in Mexico, I worked hard to learn some of the language. I listened carefully, looked for clues in the menus, and just started speaking. Even though I was making a lot of mistakes, the people appreciated that I was trying and did their best to help me.

What have you learned from your travel mistakes?

For me, this experience was a lesson in privilege. Growing up as an immigrant came with challenges and it taught me to never take anything for granted, but then here I was assuming people would have taken the time to learn at least some of my language, just in case I showed up and didn’t bother to learn any of theirs. This experience was a reminder to me that when we’re traveling, we’re visitors. And as visitors, it’s our job to adapt to the people and places we’re visiting, not the other way around. 

It’s important to take time to learn about where you’re going, use the local currency, try to communicate with people, and experience new cultures, food, and customs. After all, isn’t that what travel is all about? As an experienced, independent traveler I’d made a rookie mistake that left me vulnerable in a foreign country. While I managed to wriggle my way to safety with some quick thinking and quite a lot of body language, the outcome could have been very different.

What is your advice for travelers in regard to the mistakes that they may make while traveling? 

My advice to travelers visiting countries where they don’t speak your language is to consider this possibility in advance and plan for it. It’s not reasonable to learn a whole new language every time you visit somewhere new, but it is possible to prepare yourself. Don’t rely on the internet to bail you out, because it may be reliable where you come from, but it isn’t like that everywhere. Learn a few words and phrases before you travel just to get started and then plan for a backup. 

Many apps allow you to download languages to use offline and that’s a really handy tool to have when you need to ask questions or have basic conversations. It’s also important to remember that technology can fail, after all, batteries do die. Find a language cheat sheet that you can print and keep in your bag, or pick up a good old-fashioned phrasebook. You may never have to use them, but if you do, you’ll be glad you had them.

Anna & Anne from PerspektiVan | Travelers Talks Ep8

Anna & Anne from PerspektiVan

Website | Instagram | Facebook  

Write a few words about yourself – who you are, and what you do. 

Hello! We are Anna and Anne, the founders of Perspektivan.de, a travel and van life blog for travelers in North America and Europe. Both of us have German roots and have explored Europe, Asia, and North and South America with a backpack and by our van called Berta. 

In November 2021 we shipped our van to Mexico and since then we are traveling the Panamerican highway, the longest road on Earth. Join us on Perspektivan.de as we share tips, stories, and insights on how to embrace the nomadic lifestyle. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or new to van life, we provide you with the resources you need to embark on unforgettable journeys. Let’s hit the road together!

What mistakes did you make while traveling? What do you think led to them?

We visited a friend in Malaysia and a few days before the flight, we packed everything and got all the documents.  It seemed like everything was in order. The day before the flight, I checked my passport and realized: It was valid for just five more months and 28 days.  Germans need at least 6 months to be allowed to enter Malaysia – so the passport was invalid for this flight.

I had to cancel my flights and book new ones last minute, which was a bummer. Of course, the new tickets were much more expensive than the ones that I had initially booked. Thankfully, I was able to get a new passport within 72 hours. But it still postponed my vacation for a few days. I guess I was too busy with work and overlooked this crucial detail. Lesson learned, folks!  Always check your passport’s validity before traveling to avoid unnecessary expenses and inconveniences.

What have you learned from your travel mistakes?

This experience taught me a valuable lesson to always check your passport and visa requirements if you want to travel overseas.  Many countries require a minimum of six months of validity of the passport to enter, and rushing or leaving things until the last minute can lead to unexpected complications and disappointments.

To avoid this, I now make it a habit to check the official website of my Ministry for foreign affairs and verify all visa requirements BEFORE I book flights or make any travel arrangements. These websites provide the latest information and requirements for your journey. Trust me, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to traveling abroad.

What is your advice for travelers in regard to the mistakes that they may make while traveling? 

Plan and research in advance: Take the time to thoroughly research your destination, including visa requirements, passport validity, local customs, and any necessary vaccinations.  Double-check important documents: Always verify the validity of your passport and any other necessary identification documents well before your departure date. 

Ensure that you have made copies of important documents and store them separately from the originals, in case of loss or theft. Planning will help you avoid last-minute surprises and ensure a smoother travel experience.

Caitriona from TPR Teaching | Travelers Talks Episode 8

Caitriona from TPR Teaching

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Write a few words about yourself – who you are, and what you do. 

Caitriona is an English teacher and founder of TPR Teaching. She was born and bred in Ireland, and when not crafting words, you can usually find her exploring different cultures through travel. Caitriona is a regular contributor to the Associated Press wire and MSN.

What mistakes did you make while traveling? What do you think led to them?

When I first arrived in Hanoi, I was exhausted and had no familiarity with the currency. A taxi driver spotted my confusion when I ventured out of terminal two and offered to take me to the connecting flight at terminal one for 300,000 VND, which normally should have been free by bus. Desperate to get to my next flight to Hoi An, I took his offer and gave him 500,000 VND upon arrival. 

However, the driver gave me back a 20,000 VND note instead of the 200,000 he was supposed to return. After protesting his actions, he pretended to be confused and swapped it for two 10,000 VND notes which I accepted without realizing. It was too late when I noticed his sly trick, and he had already made his escape. The whole taxi drive took about one to two minutes and cost me about 480,000 VND, which is approximately $20.45 USD. 

What have you learned from your travel mistakes?

At the time, I was sleep-deprived, having traveled over twenty hours, so I was more susceptible to scams and mistakes. I didn’t have the concentration or energy to fight against that. Unfortunately, not being able to sleep on a flight is outside of my control, but it would have been best if I had prepared better beforehand, getting familiar with the currency and researching any potential scams that occur in that country. I could have refused to give in to the taxi driver’s demands and waited for the bus to come, as I had a good bit of time to wait until my next flight. I had no other problems for the rest of my time there, so I know I was just unlucky and won’t make that mistake again!

What is your advice for travelers in regard to the mistakes that they may make while traveling? 

Get familiar with the local currency before you arrive, if possible. You can search it on Google or purchase it at the airport and take a good look at it. If you use a currency exchange counter, ask them for a variety of notes, not just a wad of big notes that they give you at the ATM. You can do a quick search on Google and look up the average prices of taxis and other services before you make a purchase. In some countries, it is necessary to bargain the prices down so be aware of the culture before you arrive. The best thing you can do is plan in advance to mitigate any potential scams or risks when you arrive in the new country.

Jenny from Charge The Globe | Travelers Talks Ep8

Jenny from Charge The Globe

Website | Instagram 

Write a few words about yourself – who you are, and what you do. 

I’m Jenny, an over-50s Australian traveler who has unfashionably frizzy hair, is always in comfortable shoes and who thinks Karaoke is the devil’s work. I’ve visited 101 countries in over 30 years of travel and have spent anything from days, weeks, months, and once years away from home. 

What mistakes did you make while traveling? What do you think led to them?

When I was younger I always assumed that guides trying to get me to use them at particular archaeological sites were a bit like the market hawkers in Bali. I used to think that they were just trying to get money off me, couldn’t tell me any more than I could learn from my guidebook (before the Internet), and would be a complete waste of my money. I avoided them like the plague and was so weirdly proud of myself. I was never rude to them, but I would steel myself, put my best travel face on and march through them like the damn terminator. It was pretty sad actually. I’m not sure how I ever started to think I was above havIng a guide but I do remember the exact moment that I put myself firmly back into place.

I religiously watched a show called Globe Trekker which had a presenter called Ian Wright. I saw him interviewed somewhere and when asked what he considered to be something that really annoyed him about travelers he said that “snobbery had no place in travel”. He went on to say that he didn’t care if you were traveling with a backpack on the smell of an oily rag, or if you were staying at the Hilton and following a guide holding a red flag day after day: travel is travel. Everyone is a tourist and trying to say you’re not a tourist, you’re a “traveler” is just daft. Well, he said something else there, but daft covers it. It was at that point that I realized I was firmly in the “daft” category. 

What have you learned from your travel mistakes?

After realizing that I was probably doing myself a disservice, I decided that on my next trip, I would “follow a flag”. Even just once because I had no right to assume anything about anyone and I was doing exactly what I hated people doing to me. So my next adventure was to Jordan and when we arrived at Petra I decided that I would be in charge of getting a guide. I couldn’t face the large number of guides that were gathered around the entrance to the main Petra site (it was all still very new to me), so I walked back a few streets, found a little lady selling handicrafts, and asked her if she could recommend a guide.  She was thrilled. Honestly, I still remember her face telling me that her son-in-law was a guide. She went inside, called him and he zoomed up on a scooter about 10 mins later. 

His name was Mahummad, his English was very good and he sat me down over a cup of sweet tea and gave me his suggestions. Because of Mahummad, we visited Little Petra first (which I had never heard of), then did the main Petra site the next day. Doing this meant that we learned all about the original trading post (Little Petra) and then at the main Petra site, Muhammad would remind us of things we had seen at Little Petra and how they had evolved those processes by the time the main site was established. As soon as we came out into the main area of Petra we turned right, walked down a little alleyway, and then climbed up these rocks, through a cave, and came out in an area most visitors never see. All because Muhammad knew his stuff. From that point forward, I always get the guide. 

What is your advice for travelers in regard to the mistakes that they may make while traveling? 

While it’s easy to establish travel traits that work for you, it is important that every so often you challenge yourself and think about what caused those traits to develop.I had somehow decided that people who were local to an area and had access to probably way more info than I did about the location I was visiting, couldn’t possibly know their stuff. I had arrogantly assumed that they were just trying to “sell me something”. They weren’t. They had educated themselves on their subject matter, learned a new language so they could impart that information, and were working for a living. That’s what I’d done to get there and somehow I thought I had access to better info and didn’t need a local telling me something I could research myself 

That was in some part true, I could and did do the research, but no amount of research would show me where there was a hole in the wall that took me through a cave into a chamber that people had been using for thousands of years. This particular trait had been developed simply to avoid the scammers that were so prevalent in Indonesia at the time, but getting into a Tuk Tuk and being taken to a Batik workshop, a carving workshop, and a silver smith instead of being taken to the temple I wanted to go to was an entirely different thing to getting a guide for the Colosseum.  You develop travel habits because at some point you have tried to protect yourself, but they don’t always make sense. 

It’s your duty as a traveler to use the local products and services and so what if you get a crap guide every so often, the great ones you get will WAY override that and leave you with a much better understanding of where you are. You travel for experiences and whatever you have to do to make that the best possible experience you could have in that location, you have to do.

Happy Little Traveler Authors

Our travel mistakes and advice for you

Don’t worry – we won’t keep you here for much longer and we’ll keep our answer short and strictly to the point. As for us, it’s actually quite funny – most of our mistakes we made were not during our first trips but many years later when we started to travel full-time as digital nomads. Looks like the more experience we have, the more silly mistakes we make. So what went wrong for us? 

Our biggest mistake was overpacking. Since the beginning of our digital nomads journey we’re traveling by car, and it was just so easy to pack so many things that “we might need/just in case” or thought that we “cannot live without”. Oh how wrong we were! After about 4 months we got rid of about 40% of unnecessary stuff! Later with each month, we got rid of more and more. Currently, we’re finally traveling with only the things we really need, which is about 40% of the original amount. If you’re wondering – we never overpacked for short trips.

The second mistake, a very silly one, was to assume that all over one country you pay for motorways the same way. Well… No. In the Algarve in the south of Portugal, we signed up for one system that automatically charged fees from the card, and it didn’t even occur to us that there would be something else in the north. We happily drove through the speedway gates across Portugal, especially since the signs were very similar. What got us surprised was the fact that no fees have been charged automatically. We decided to wait and thought that they will charge us “later” or with a slight delay since we have foreign registration plates. After 3 weeks we started to worry and looked for more information, and we discovered that our subscription from “the South” wasn’t valid in “the North”. Thankfully there was a site where we could settle overdue payments and we avoided paying fines. Advice? Do proper research, try not to miss even the smallest details, and never assume anything. 

Our third mistake, which happened a few times already, was not to check earlier availability for tickets to popular places, like Alhambra in Granada or Caminito del Rey. Our excuse is that we often don’t know a few months in advance that we’ll be in a given place, but so far we always had some ”stupid luck” and managed to buy last-minute tickets just a few hours earlier. Advice? Like above – do proper research, and try to think ahead if possible. 

Travelers Talks Episode 8 - What can you learn from travel mistakes?

What can you learn from travel mistakes? – Summing up

Overpacking, putting ourselves in debt, not doing research, not learning basic phrases in language, not checking out visa or passport requirements, underestimating how different parts of the world can be, forgetting to contact banks, and many, many more mistakes… 

As you can see we all make travel mistakes, from simple and silly, to more serious ones. But whatever mistake it could be, it’s important to reflect on it, draw conclusions and learn from it. We hope that this post made you feel a little better, and also prepared a little for potential mistakes you can make during your travels. And given that you’re still reading this so thoroughly you’ll probably avoid all of them! But just in case – when next time you’ll make some mistakes don’t be too harsh on yourself, because as Lauren Myracle said: “It’s what we learn from our mistakes that matters.”

Wanna share your travel mistakes and advice? Please leave a comment in the section below. We’d love to hear about them!


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Travelers Talks: What can you learn from travel mistakes?

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1 thought on “Travelers Talks: What can you learn from travel mistakes?”

  1. Hi there all of you! Thanks for really great contributions. We have also learned to travel with less. It’s amazing how little we can actually make do with!
    One of our biggest mistakes that we have learned from was to not pay attention to foreign currency conversion fees that our bank charged for each transaction. We researched better options and now have a visa debit card that costs far less in the end!

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