"5 travel mistakes to avoid"
People love to go on vacation, at least all the fun people do anyway. But most don't have the time to go on enough of them to fully master the art of the flub-free trip. A starving teenager here, a broken suitcase wheel there, a 37-hour non-refundable flight delay way over there.
There will always be something that goes wrong. However, the mishaps should be few and far between. You should be able to look back years later and laugh.
Nobody wants to come home to a tattered La-Z-Boy sipping a whiskey straight wondering why you spent $2,000 on a flight to Thailand just to sit between a snoring retired blogger and a small tribe of day-shotgunning frat boys screaming "U.S.A!". All for what? A scalp-burn and a glittery tin elephant?
Here at AlienEating we're young, dumb and broke and ready to sip that whiskey for you and share all of our worst travel boo-boos.
So take a page out of our "Travel Hacks for Ding-Dongs" book that we haven't written yet and mull over it real good. Not one minute of a hard-earned vacation should go to waste looking for a hotel without mutant rats or a beach with hole-less umbrellas.
1. Packing too much
Trust me on this one, you do not need seven different swimsuits for your 5-day vacation. One will not get stained and you won't need a replacement.
In fact, if you're going somewhere that requires a swimsuit, chances are they're banking on you forgetting one. What beach has no swimsuits for sale?
A private island I guess, but who has island money?
Men/other genders that do this, same to you. You don't need four pairs of man flops and Oakley shades with nine interchangeable lens tints.
Over-packing will be the death of you. Stuff will get tangled, lost, wrinkled and look for anything becomes an all-out knock-down drag-out UFC fight with Lil' backpack, the ultimate reigning champion.
Be smart and pack only the essentials, I always remind myself "if I can re-buy it here, I can probably re-buy it there". I bring a 50/50 mix of things that are irreplaceable and things that are super cheap so I can chuck them if need be to make room. So I'll bring my most comfortable walking shoes and most trusty backpack, and a three pack of white Walmart men's t-shirts.
Just last year, I was the long-reigning Sultan of Overpackistan. While visiting Thailand, I lugged around three supersized McNovels because apparently vacation is the time for self-reflection and morphing into a literary genius.
Lo' and behold I had so much stuff I ditched two books at security.
The last surviving book kept moving around different bags, suitcases, satchels, briefcases, glittery clutches, dog crates and high school gym bags that I eventually lost the damn thing. I came home and tried desperately to buy it again but could not find it anywhere.
Secondhand bookstore? Nope.
Under my bed? Nope.
So now here I am, a thousand times better at packing but also forever wondering how many people David Berkowitz really did kill.
If you're doing a quick skim like most people, here's the meaty bits:
- Bring only the essentials. Seriously. One backup pair of pants is allowed if you plan on dirt-biking or wrestling with hogs. Other than that, only. the. essentials. Stores and money exist for a reason.
- Pack for the actual weather, not the weather you want. Sorry if you love to wear sundresses and you booked a ticket to rainy Ireland, try again next time.
- If you really need to make space, wear your heaviest items on the plane.
- Stop with the books, it's 2018 and we have e-books. Save trees, save space.
2. Using a backpack that's the mayor of Crap-town
This one sounds pretty straightforward but it's truly unbelievable how many times I've used a crappy bag and still not learned my lesson. Misshapen bags, bags with holes, counterfeit bags, anything to avoid dropping $200 on a good pack to last me close to forever.
On the same trip to as book-fiasco 2k15, I was unaware that nearly everything in Thailand is counterfeit and dropped way too much money on what I thought was a good pack. I spent hours researching and choosing one and then going to Chatuchak market to buy it, got scammed and got home to realize it's missing 2 entire zippers and has bent support bars. It made it through the trip home but was pretty much the Berlin Wall after that.
How much did all those trashy bags cost me? Probably well over $200 in the end. If you're going to be travelling long term there's not one thing that is a better investment than a good pack. As far as weekend trips go, I would recommend a compact, lightweight bag with no bells and whistles. A USB port and a fresh off the runway front pocket? You'll look like the most fashionable person with an expired visa on the road. Honestly though. These packs do look nice.
So whether it be a rally-the-troops style rucksack or you want to pack the entire office into a trendy man-satchel, there’s one true backpack soulmate for everybody. Don’t be that guy stuck in the middle of the airport with a sweaty brow and a bottomed out bag.
3. Be a world gymnast
Flexible. Flexible. Flexible.
This cannot be emphasized enough. There's nothing worse than dropping a fat load of buck stacks on something set in stone. Poppin' a squat at Rapunzel's Royal Table has a no refund policy.
There are so many problems and emergency situations that could arise. While in Thailand, my friends found out their hostel beds had bed bugs. Bed bugs! Creepy crawly little heathens hell bent on leeching blood from everyone.
- Don't book a place for all 10 nights of your vacation unless 99.9% of online reviews are positive. Which in that case, are you staying in the Queen's pantry? In a tourist destination, there are a million and one places to stay. Feel free to pop it, lock it and polka dot it to another hostel across the street.
If all your bookings are nonrefundable, you're in a big boiling cauldron of disasters waiting to happen.
- What if you meet some cool people on the other side of town?
- What if you like one city and feel like staying longer?
- What if you don't like it and want to go somewhere else?
- What if you decide to build a dog hotel?
- A volcano explodes and turns into Pompeii: The Resurrection. Now what?
- The fart smell is overwhelming and it's Mission Impossible: ASAP to Japan.
- What if there's a hurricane and your Surf's Up dreams are blown to bits?
My travel rule is one activity per person.
Whether it be seeing the Taj Mahal, petting every stray dog, sampling the convenience store snacks or giving Christ the Redeemer a sweet, sweet kiss on the cheek.
A monogamous tie to an activity. Not an open relationship with ten "sights and sounds of Chiang Mai, Bangkok, and Phuket" in three days. Whatever it is, discuss your number one bucket list item with your friends. Keep this in mind though:
Three friends? Three things.
Five friends? Five things.
Zero friends? Well... you're SOL.
75 friends? Sorry. This travel tip has a five-person limit.
4. Have a good time
So please, take these few tips from us and have a phenomenal vacation.
Don't overpack, use a good bag, and be flexible. Travelling leaves me with a suitcase full of dirty clothes, a searing sunburn, and ten extra pounds I can't lose for seven months.
While all these things ring true, those corny quotes do hold some substance. Travelling can be difficult, smelly, chaotic and even boring at times but there's nothing in the world like it.
You'll never see the Colosseum from LA, never experience a kimchi festival in Amsterdam, never cry from spice in India if you're stuck in Scotland.
Leave your house, go out into the world to see the millions of things that one could only imagine from Pinterest. I highly urge everyone to travel, not tour, really travel at least once. Cattle wrangle up some money for a plane ticket, get down and dirty, speak some fake sign language, meet some locals and put yourself out there.
Travelling is one of the best accidents I've stumbled into and I never want to derail this full-speed Travel-Trolley. It's a high unlike any other and there's way too much out there too miss out.
Trust us... we've been there.
A few honourable mentions:
- Check the season times, just take my word for it. Avoid tourist spots during the high season.
- If you tend to blow money like nobody's business, make a budget and try to spend in cash.
- Do some research about where you're going. The culture, some key expressions for survival, etc.
- Don't freak out over the small stuff like having perfectly matched socks or your lucky underwear.
- Don't keep all your important papers, IDs and lucky charms in one spot. But do keep it on you somewhere.
- Most of all, have a good time and always, always check your bank account before leaving. God forbid you to make it all the way across the globe with $7 to your name and an empty bag of Lays.
What are some of your biggest travel no-no's? What are some travel tips you swear by? Let me know in the comments or email at firstname.lastname@example.org! You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook or our website https://alieneating.com.