Like everything in our lives, we evolve over time. We attempt certain things and reflect upon our successes and failures. With this reflection, we often come to a realization to know the things we did right versus the things we did wrong. Travel is no exception to this. When we first start venturing out into the world, we are so full of questions. We seek blogs, opinions from travelers on Instagram, and watch hours of YouTube video; all in an effort to help us figure out how to prepare and plan for our world ventures.
Now that I’ve been traveling for well over 10 years, I’ve been able to reflect back on my journeys point out some of the many mistakes I've made. I share these mistakes with you because I wish someone shared them with me when I first started traveling.
1. FAMILIARIZE WITH ROAD RULES
If you’re anything like me, then you’re the type to rent cars in most destinations that you go to. Well I failed to remember that every destination has nuances when it comes to traffic law. My time in Peru was nearly ruined when I was pulled over. For what you ask? I was pulled over for driving my headlights on in broad daylight. The law sounds so crazy but clearly there’s a reason for it. Had I known about it, then I would have saved myself the $100 ticket that I was issued. There was no arguing my way out of that one either. The officer didn’t care that I was a foreigner. He was just happy to get some money out of me.
2. NEVER LEAVE ANYTHING UNATTENDED
This rule sounds very rudimentary but the truth is, people become comfortable. This is especially true when something that could go wrong, has yet to go wrong over the course of many iterations. In the case of my example, I was just a bit too comfortable during a trip I took to Kauai. I boarded a luxury boat that was to bring us along the Napoli coast. The captain had instructed all passengers to leave their belongings in the main cabin. So, I followed suit. I was none the wiser that I’d be a victim on this ride.
Once the tour was over and I had made it back to my car, I came to realize that I was robbed of over $1000. I never would have thought someone on a luxury boat would be so tempted to steal from another person. Thankfully I was able to recover most of those funds through an insurance claim. But now, I am extra aware of where I leave any of my things. I always make sure my important items remain on me unless I am able to stow and lock away my belongings.
3. SIGN UP FOR LOYALTY PROGRAM NOW
It’s sad when I think of all of the trips, cars rented and hotels booked but not one cent went back toward helping me travel further. This was because I never thought to sign up for these loyalty programs beforehand. I didn’t have the foresight to know that I would become an avid traveller. I thought many of my trips would be one-offs. But I started becoming a repeat customer. I would tell myself that I would sign up for the program tomorrow. But tomorrow came years later. Although I’m now benefiting from my efforts of staying loyal, I could have been much further along had I started from day one.
4. NOT DOWNLOADING OFFLINE MAPS
Whether you expect to have solid Wi-Fi or not, it is always a good idea to download an offline map of the region that you’ll be visiting. Google Maps offers this feature. This is good to do because it will cover you in regions where you have no cell service. I recently started road tripping and realized that even though I’ve driven out 2 hours from the main city, there were would be many dead spots encountered. These areas of no cell service had me feeling a bit uneasy because I was relying on my GPS so much. During the areas of dead spots, my GPS had no idea where to direct me. Having survived those situations, I began to research and discovered you can download maps of the areas you’ll be in. These downloaded maps from Google Maps still will give you turn by turn directions. The only thing the offline maps can’t provide to you is real time traffic data. Now when I drive, I am comforted by the fact that my offline map will kick in as soon as my cell phone loses signal.
I love to share the mistakes made during my journeys because I really don’t want others to experience the same. But what’s traveling without making mistakes? Mistakes do make for more interesting stories anyway!