Vacation… this great word that immerses us in a dreaming state and makes us eager to escape as soon as possible from the daily routine, to get away from work and all the troubles at home and to live precious moments in faraway lands.
Travels are wonderful and they are extraordinary occasions to relax and build up energy and joy of life. We are waiting for the holidays with high enthusiasm, making all sorts of plans and imagining how awesome it will be.
Unfortunately, sometimes less experienced tourists commit a series of mistakes which steal precious moments of happiness and relaxation from their vacation. These are some of them and here is our advice on how you can avoid them:
- Traveling during high-season.
Yes, it’s great to go to the seaside in August and to the mountains in December, we can all agree on this and this is exactly the problem – everybody tries to take a vacation during these periods. This is why the travel destinations are so crowded and the prices are very high. You will wait in endless queues to visit the most important sights or to take a picture without hundreds of other people in the frame, you will wait for hours to be served at a restaurant or you will not even find a free table and you will pay at least double for the whole trip. The alternative is to plan you getaways smartly – go in vacations during the less crowded times to enjoy the silence and relaxation as much as possible. Did you know, for example, that in Cyprus, in the middle of October, the weather is great and the sea water is very warm? During this period of the year you can also find cheap plane tickets and reasonably priced accommodation here.
- Packing too much.
We want to have something with us for every occasion that can come up in a vacation and for impressive pictures that make our friends envious. So we end up packing 15 types of clothes for 10 days and then struggle with heavy baggage and maybe even pay more for it on the flight, only to come back home without wearing half of them. Try to think as objectively as possible at what clothes you really need for each day of your holiday, maybe you can do some laundry there and wear them again and most importantly remember that clothes are not the most important thing in a vacation. After you finish preparing for a trip and you feel you’ve packed everything you need – remake it and reduce it in half; almost certainly you won’t miss anything from what you decide to leave at home.
- Leaving too little time between flights.
If you plan a trip that includes changing flights, be sure to leave enough time between them. Sometimes, the air traffic is unforeseeable and delays can occur from one minute to another, unhappy events which will prevent you from catching the next flight if it is too close to the first one. Imagine you have arrived in a big airport, totally unfamiliar to you and you have only 20 minutes until your next plane takes off. Sometimes, the distance between two terminals can take more than half an hour and that is without security checks and picking up the baggage. Plan a break of at least two hours between connecting flights, in order to make sure your vacation won’t be ruined by a missed flight.
- Transporting documents and valuable objects in the checked-in luggage.
If it did not happen to you yet, you surely know someone who waited in vain for the checked-in baggage in the destination airport and it never arrived. The luggage from the hold of the aircraft is lost more often than people think and, if you are lucky, you can get it back after a few days, but in some cases you may never see them again. Of course, you will be compensated by the airline in this kind of situation, but the sum won’t be high and it will be a big hassle to get it, and the documents and valuable objects you had in there will be lost forever. So make sure to carry with you the papers you need, keys, things of value and any other kind of stuff you really need once you arrive. Imagine you got to the airport at 2 AM and the only set of keys to your house was in the checked-in luggage that did not arrive with you… What are you going to do in this situation?
- Not making copies of travel documents and lists with important information.
Nobody thinks that they will be robbed while on vacation or that the papers, wallet or phone will get lost. But these things do occur – and not even so rarely. What are you going to do in a foreign country, without documents, money and any kind of connection to people who might help you to get back home? It is a good idea to make copies of travelling documents and lists with important information – phone numbers of people at home who could send you money, contact data for your country’s embassy, basic phrases in the language of the country you are in to ask the locals for help. Keep them in a safe place – they will be very helpful if an unfortunate situation takes place.
- Not changing money in advance.
As sad as it sounds, money is very important when we travel and it is vital to have it. Since the moment we arrive at our destination, we will need money to get around, at least to go from the airport to the place we have accommodation. If you have this possibility, change some money in the currency of the destination country before leaving, if not – make sure you have enough money in your account to withdraw from an ATM when you get there, or buy some dollars or euro which are easy to change in any other currency, if you only travel with your local money (Romanian Lei, in our case) it may not be changed in some places. Also, avoid exchange offices in airports, most of the time they have very bad rates.
- Not buying travel insurance.
As it was the case for losing money or documents, we rarely think about the possibility of having health issues when going on vacation. But this thing happens sometimes and it’s good to be prepared. Travel insurance is cheap and it can be purchased for the exact number of days you are going to spend abroad. In the unfortunate event of an accident, you will have emergency health support that won’t cost thousands of dollars from your pocket. Those living in the European Union have the option of getting an European Health Card, which is issued free of charge, is valid for one year and covers the health services in any E.U. country.
- Not paying attention to crooks.
We are in vacation, feeling great, everything is wonderful! It’s a dream come true that we don’t want to end. But it can end abruptly when the enthusiasm of the trip makes us careless and we become an easy prey for con artists. Being scammed, stolen or convinced to pay a lot more than needed for something, all these unwanted events can ruin our joy. So be careful to keep your money, documents and valuables in a safe place and be informed about the correct price of products and services from the destination country.
- Paying for something that could be done for free.
In some places, especially in the most popular travel destinations, you will be harassed from every side with offers to spend quality time and visit various sights. These are nice ways of exploring your chosen destination and enjoying the vacation. But be careful: more often than not, the prices for these “adventures” are very high and if you do a little research, you can find much cheaper or even free alternatives for the same activities. For example, in most big cities you can find free walking tours, based on symbolic donations, free events and free landmarks, restaurants for the locals where prices are much lower than in those for tourists.
- Not taking advantage of discounts.
In many major cities you can find special offers and touristic packages which can be very advantageous if used smartly. Some include free entries and discounts for important landmarks and public transportation, activities, events, restaurants and many other places – they can give you the opportunity to thoroughly explore the destination and immerse yourself in the local atmosphere with much less money than you would normally pay. But be sure to have enough time to do all of them and calculate if they really help you save money. For example, we got overly enthusiastic in Malta and bought two discount cards and then didn’t have enough time to use most of the things they offered. On the other hand, we had a very positive experience in Budapest with such a discount card for tourists.
- Not respecting the local people and customs.
Each place has its local traditions and of course the people living there. Even if for us these are just travel destinations, wherever we go there are citizens just like us that live and work there and they also need quiet and respect from those around them. Imagine you live in the center of Barcelona and thousands of people walk in front of your windows, making noise day and night, getting drunk, yelling, singing, littering and destroying your street. Sadly, many tourists have the bad habit of behaving much worse in their vacation than at home, lacking respect and being uncivilized. It is important not to forget our common sense when we go on holiday. Also, in some countries there are specific cultural and religious aspects that have to be taken into account when going there. Be sure to find out in advance what they are and try as much as possible not to annoy the locals with inappropriate deeds. We are not thrilled when people come to our city and stay shirtless in restaurants or half naked in religious temples.
- Visiting only the places where everyone goes.
Every destination has some famous and important landmarks that should not be missed. And we won’t skip them – we will go to the Castle when visiting Bratislava and will make a tour of the Vatican when being in Rome. But these are not the only interesting things to see in a destination and in general they are very crowded and can become tiring. In order to fully taste what a certain place has to offer and to really feel the local atmosphere, it is good to walk on less crowded paths, on small streets with stylish houses and shops, in parks further away from the center, in all the places where the locals go more often than the tourists. This way, it is possible to find real architectural treasures, less known, cheap stores and restaurants, green oasis, quiet and relaxing, and many more.
- Not checking the mobile roaming prices.
Who is thinking about data traffic rates when posting tens of photos and posts from the vacation on Facebook or Instagram? Not many tourists worry about this and they end up getting very high bills when they get back home or to run out of credit after 10 minutes of net surfing in a foreign country. Before leaving, check the roaming prices for the phone network you are using, in the country you are going to and even contact your mobile provider to see if they have some kind of special packages for roaming in that country. This way you can avoid not being able to answer your phone or to look for information on the internet while on holiday.
- Not reading the reviews.
There are many websites where tourists share the experiences they had in their vacations and write reviews for the places they visited, the venues where they ate and the hotels where they stayed. Get informed about all these places before leaving, so that you won’t find yourself in the situation to find out that you had to buy online tickets a week earlier for a crowded landmark, or that you had to make a reservation in advance for a very popular restaurant, or even worse, to get sick after eating at some shady fast food, or end up with mold in your hotel room. But be skeptical about the reviews also – there are many pretentious people who expect to be treated royally just because they are on vacation, to have a personal servant and a maid with PhD in room service at some modest pension.
- Choosing expensive vacations.
There are a lot of people who save money all year to go on vacation and they spend all of it for a single holiday, because you only do that once a year, right? No, it’s nothing like that. For example, we went on three different vacations with the money other people spend on just one. It is important to be informed well in advance, to follow the websites of the airlines and hunt for promotions and discounts, to search the best quality/price options when choosing the accommodation and having an open mind about new destinations and experiences. For example, you can find out here how to buy cheap plane tickets, and for accommodation you can book an apartment on airbnb as an alternative to an expensive hotel.
- Trying to do everything you can possibly do in a certain place.
Vacations have this disadvantage – too little time and too many things to do, places to see, foods to taste, experiences to live. Often we are tempted to try to go as many places and do as many things as we can in the few days we have. But we forget that the main purpose of vacations is rest and relaxation. While running after more and more experiences, we end up being exhausted and frustrated, and we can’t do everything anyway, so we come back from the vacation more tired than we left. Take it easy – make one thing at a time, set aside time for relaxation, enjoy everything around you. It is impossible to do everything that there is to do in a destination in a short time, and if you like it you can always come back some other time. For example, we have already been three times to Budapest and we will certainly go again to Israel and some other places we have visited.
- Having too many expectations from the holiday.
Every place in this world has good things and bag things – no destination is perfect. When we set very high expectations regarding a place we go to, it is possible that those are not very realistic and we could be disappointed instead of being happy that we are on vacation. So, all we need to fully enjoy a destination is openness, desire to explore and know, interest, joyfulness and willingness to receive the experiences that place has to offer. And the most important thing is to learn to create the unforgettable moments ourselves, not to expect for incredible things to happen to us or to be treated in a certain way only because we have chosen to visit that place.