6 Bad Travel Habits and How to Avoid Them

24 Jul

We’ve all been there, we’ve all done it.  Regardless of our different holiday styles, there are certain things we’re guilty of doing when we travel that stump our culture growth, and muddle our experiences.  Read on to see how many bad travel habits you’ve been known to do, and how you can avoid them.

1.  Staying Out Too Late
Everyone falls into the category of “I’m on vacation, let’s let loose” (that’s obviously one of the points of vacation) but not everyone can discipline themselves to pack it in for a night or two.  Based on personal experience, unless you’re heading to a nightlife destination such as Vegas or Ibiza, it’s a good idea to minimize the late ones.  This is so you don’t wake up with low energy wondering how the heck you’re supposed to climb Table Mountain or see the entire Louvre.  Too many sights have gone unseen, and beauty unappreciated, due to a queasy, post-party stomach reflex that just won’t quit. To help discipline myself I will either:

  1. Apply the 2:1 rule – for every two consecutive nights that I’m in bed by 9pm, one night is allowed for a late night out.
  2. Bring enough money out for an evening to last me only an hour or purposely fill up on a heavy, late night dinner so that either way, I’m forced to head to bed early.

2.  Over Packing
The same mistake that everyone makes is packing way too many (unnecessary) belongings.  If you’ve ever returned home from a trip with a few shirts still folded, pants freshly pressed and an “oh yes, I forgot I packed that”, then this bad habit is yours to abandon. After many trips around the world and back, I’ve finally figured out how to avoid that constant “but I think I’m going to need this” battle with your suitcase:

  1. If the thought of making a daily planner for yourself doesn’t wig you out, than do so, and use that as a guide of what to bring and what to leave. No “what if’s”.
  2. Unless you’re visiting the world’s fashion capitals or off for a singles getaway, there’s no need to (over) dress to impress.
  3. If you have a little extra budget for your trip then pack the basics and pick up the extras along the way. Who doesn’t love to bring home exotic pieces?!

3.  Resorting to Comfort Food

Turkish Woman Prepares Doner Kebab, Istanbul, Turkey

More out of laziness than anything else, it’s familiar, cheap and quick and dirty. The loathed comfort food. And with McDonald’s franchises covering more than 60% of the world’s countries, according to Wikipedia, it is extremely hard to break away from temptation. But by doing this you’re cheating yourself from culture, inspiration, and invigorating your taste buds. Avoid this common bad habit by getting inspired:

  1. Research before you go – learn about local exports, browse through foreign cookbooks (online or off) or try the food first at a local restaurant in your own town.
  2. Visit food stalls when there – take in the aromas to get your mouth watering; witness first-hand, the ingredients, of key local dishes; note signature fruits and meats that you’d like to buy or try at a local restaurant.

4.  Taking the Same Vacation, Over and Over
Whether conscious about it or not, there’s a particular type of travel that we tend to stick to and it’s hard to break out of this bad habit once it’s formed. I’ll be the first to admit that I try to avoid resorts at all costs, but that’s a bad habit I need to break. This year, try a new type of travel for your next vacation to expand your mind and experiences. For instance:

  1. If you’re the adventurous type like me, plan your next escape doing nothing on a beach in Bali (pronounced b-AH-lee, not b-AA-l
  2. Been to one too many amusement parks with the kids? Reach out to your babysitter or nanny for a week and voluntour in Guatemala.
  3. While building your nautical paraphernalia collection from every cruise you take may be fun, ditch it, and take an adventurous zip line through the Ecuadorean Rainforest.

5.  Succumbing to Taxi Rides
The Tube really isn’t that complicated and Israelis give great directions, so why feed your money to a taxi meter? Not only does it eat your budget but you also miss out on randomly stopping for $0.67

Istiklal Caddesi Trolley, Istanbul, Turkey; a fun alternative to modern transportation.

drinks at a pub in Phom Phen or perfecting your “walking and eating” skills in Paris. Tucked under the roof of a taxi, just for the A/C, cuts into your opportunity to experience different ways of life. Isn’t that why you left Canada for your vacation? While abroad, I apply a No Taxi rule as best I can and implement that by:

  1. Playing Choose Your Own Adventure – purchase city maps and ask for directions to determine the best local transport to get you from point A to B.
  2. Hop on the tour buses (generally for no charge) so you can learn about the city as you make your way to your final destination.
  3. Grab a Tuk Tuk or rickshaw – for an eighth of the price of a taxi you can enjoy an open-air ride enabling you to take in the sights and smells as you make your way along.

6.  Being a Tourist
As a traveler or constant vacationer it’s a desire to want the bragging rights of how many of the Top 50 Things To Do Before You Die or Seven Wonder’s you’ve checked off your list. But, so does everyone else, and because of that, we all end up with the exact same photos and stories to share. Break out of what becomes a tourist habit by:

  1. Searching a world map for the tiniest town possible, such as Hum (see if you can find it), and book a stay for a few nights.
  2. Plan a trip to the most foreign-sounding name you can find, such as Namru, Tibet. It’s actually more fun to see people’s reactions when you tell them where you’re going than to see the same Eiffel Tower as everyone else.
  3. Getting lost on purpose. Okay, not that I have anything against the Eiffel Tower as it’s pretty spectacular to look down from, but if you absolutely have to visit the typical “must-do’s” then at least take the side streets to get there. I promise you’ll discover the undiscovered.

2 Responses to “6 Bad Travel Habits and How to Avoid Them”

  1. Sailor August 7, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    You have some good tips here.

  2. Dr Graham Page November 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Most of the above can be avoided by getting advise from a local such as on Tripbod.com
    You can then enjoy the destination much more.

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