5 Traveling Mistakes I've Made
As I'm sitting here wondering what to do on my off day in Australia this week, I'm reminded of all the blunders I've made as a traveler (one of them being not enough pre-planning. whoops!). Australia will make country no. 26 and I am still finding myself shaking my head thinking, "ugh, I shouldn't have done that". Which is good! It gives me some growing pains that I can share with y'all! So here, I've compiled a lil list of five mistakes I've made (and hopefully you can avoid) while traveling. Commence pile of mistakes!:
1.) Taking roller luggage on international trips. On any trips. Roller luggage.
Okay, so I've moved from one country to another with gigantic roller bags to carry books, clothes, my dog (kidding! don't call PETA), etc. and they work great from basically getting giant piles of crap from one place to another in a semi-efficient manner. Kinda.
However, when you're trying to go from airport to taxi, to bus, to train, to hostel. They can turn into arm wrenching, elbow locking pains in the butt. I once carried not one but TWO small roller bags from England to France and I was seriously regretting it. I now try to not check luggage if I can and instead take my Osprey Kyte 36 liter as a carry on.
No trying to roll my bags through airplane aisles and no dealing with potential lost luggage. For me, personally, it's a much better idea for travel when you know you're going to have to go from one place to another and another. Also it makes you pack less. Yay!
2.) Getting currency exchanged ahead of time at your local bank and/or getting money exchanged at the currency exchange kiosks in the airport. They take a pretty good fee for themselves and while this isn't always the case, I find it much cheaper and faster to just go to the atm inside the airport or your closest atm and get cash out with your home country's bank card. Although once when I went to Indonesia, because of the exchange rate and because of the way their currency breakdown is (1000's, 5000's, 10000's, etc.) you could only get so much out of the atm because it seemed the height of the wad of cash wouldn't quite make it out of the dispenser. Big baller in Indonesia. Not a big baller in Iceland. Interestingly enough, I never even saw the currency in Iceland because of how many people take card. I think I got ahold of some coins in a gas station because they overcharged us on gas.
3.) Still going with finances, not letting your bank know you're traveling abroad! Whoopsie! Justin and I were in Nepal and forgot to let our bank know where we were going and ended up having our card turned off. We used a bus driver's cell phone to call the bank and to tell them it wasn't fraud so they could turn it back on. That was super fun.
4.) Overpacking. I used to do this often and now I do it seldom but it still happens. Overpacking can cause you pain when you're hefting your bag from hostel to hostel or hotel to bus or whatever. Also, if you buy something, good luck on shoving it into your already overflowing bag. There have definitely been times when I've pawned something off onto Justin and had him carry it. However, when I recently went to Thailand, I had plenty of room to buy a giant stuffed Tortoro which is now sitting on our bed. Awww. You really don't need to bring five pairs of jeans. Just get them washed and wear two or heck...even one!
5.) Most importantly, not researching the local customs. I find that in countries where their religion is a major factor, obviously you need to look up what you should or shouldn't do, wear, drink. etc. I made the mistake of wearing yoga pants in Morocco and found the women staring holes through me. Also, wearing shorts to a Buddhist temple won't cut it. Offering your hand to shake to a Muslim man is a no-go. I think especially for Americans we need to look these things up. We tend to be louder, more aggressive and less knowledgable about other's customs since we're such a melting pot ourselves without the experience of having a solidly formed "American culture" as other, older countries have. I showed up in Qatar trying to shake everyone's hand and hug them (as we do in the South) and I was quickly reminded that the polite thing to do is to see what they're going to do first. You eventually find out who can touch (a pat on the back, a handshake, a hug, etc.) and who would prefer you didn't.
So there you go! Just a small sampling of the many, many things I've learned while traveling and messing up (another one being don't touch the hanging pepper mobile thing in India. I was told it was a very big deal that I touched it. oooooo......)
Doing these things has taught me how to do it right the next time. So hopefully you won't get stuck with two roller bags hanging off the edge of a double decker bus and everyone getting mad in the line behind you! WOO. Now, to go see if I can go find some koalas in Australia...