7 Ways to Screw Up a Travel Day

Brooke Saward founder and editor
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Travel is full of highs and lows, hit and miss affairs, horrible hotels, fantastic meals, but all in all it’s a mixed bag – you never really know what you’re gonna get out of each day. Before you take your next trip, consider these 7 ways to screw up a travel day and do your best to avoid them at all costs.

Seize the day: if you're still in bed at noon, you might as well be at home

Having expectations

There’s nothing like arriving at a location that promised to have the best carbonara in town and being welcomed by a big ol’ CLOSED sign on the window. Chances are you didn’t even think to try the charming family-run restaurant next door that is packed with locals because you’ve already stormed off and had your day totally ruined. One of the easiest traps to fall into when traveling abroad is a mindset that you simply must visit certain places and must not waste time on places you pass by tat aren’t on your hit list. While it pays to do your research and plan ahead, there is a fine line between being prepared and being pedantic.

Not doing your research

On the other hand, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. One of the most disappointing feelings is when you have returned home from a trip and your friend excitedly asks ‘did you visit this!? That was my absolute favourite!’ and you have no clue what they are referring to. Chances are you reluctantly shrug it off, only to go home and google it later and turn green with envy and simultaneously red with anger that you had no idea it even existed. Before you go, be sure to do your research in a range of ways – ask around, read travel blogs, ask locals when you arrive, and be open to changes in your itinerary.

Not being present in the moment

 One of the greatest downfalls of the rapid insurgence of technology connecting people around the world is the effect it has on our ability to be present and in the moment. Indeed, as I write this article I am stationed at a café in Budapest watching the world pass me by (but this is my job). For the very reason that I don’t want to miss a thing, I choose not to connect my phone when overseas – even when traveling for a year at a time. When I have wi-fi available to me, I use it. Usually this is just in the mornings and evenings at my hotel – but if I sit down for lunch at a café I will invariably check to see if there is wi-fi – but don’t forget I’m traveling solo. If you’re lucky enough to have a travel partner or group, by no means should you spend your time looking down at a phone screen when there is a table conversation to be had. Count your blessings, I would sometimes do ANYTHING to have someone to talk to about my day over drinks in the evening.

JUST SAY YES (think Jim Carey in Yes Man)

Counting calories

 This one is for the girls mostly. First things first, no one likes putting on weight. But when you are traveling it should be the last thing you are thinking of – let alone every day! If you are really concerned about your diet, just be sure to eat normal portion sizes and indulge minimally (but don’t completely miss out on the sweet treats). I personally have never struggled with being open to eating anything and everything in front of me – I just love food. I have also always put on weight when I travel but lost that extra weight as soon as I have returned home to routine (and the gym!). Life is short, don’t skip dessert.  

Counting pennies

 Another pointless exercise is to budget til your brain hurts. You’ve gone all this way, spent all this money to get here, and NOW you’re gonna ruin it by writing down every dollar spent to assess where you went wrong!? Budgeting is fine and we all have to do it, but don’t be so ruthless that you miss out on once in a lifetime experiences – otherwise you might as well stay home and watch someone else go up the Eiffel Tower on the travel channel.

Sleeping in late

This one I seriously just can not stand. I personally have no troubles getting up early in the mornings and seizing the day, but I know everyone is different. However one thing I simply can not understand is why someone would go to the trouble and effort to visit a new country and then sleep in til noon every day… you’ve essentially just lost half your day of sunlight! If you’re not normally an early riser, make sure you get to bed at a decent hour in the evenings and get yourself into a routine. It may also help to have your outfit picked out the night before and ready to throw on first thing – so you needn’t have that ‘but I can’t be bothered yet’ feeling keep you tied to the mattress.

Not saying YES

Finally and perhaps most importantly, it is so crucial to your travel experience to actually have experiences. Say yes. Take a leap of faith. Try new things. Give everything a chance and if you don’t like it, use it as a story to tell later. Everything you do – good or bad – is an experience, a lesson, a story, a travel tale…. But if you don’t say yes, you will never know. .

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    Joseph @ Green Global Travel
    January 21, 2015 at 8:38 am

    True words. The difficulty is finding the perfect mixture between your first and second points – don’t have expectations, but don’t come unprepared. It’s tough, but someones got to do it!

    April 8, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Such obvious things yet never thought of them like that! Cannot stand when my friends wanted to sleep in. However I am sometimes wanting to have the whole day planned, budgeted, timed, and scheduled. On my next trip I will definitely take these into consideration! Thanks Brooke

    Dieng Plateau
    March 30, 2014 at 5:16 am

    haha funny but true!

    March 29, 2014 at 3:44 am

    Hahah that is funny yet very honest list. I agree with all except I will try to continue make healthy choices. It is possible as long as it is quality food.

    March 20, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Great tips Brooke 🙂 I completely agree, especially with counting calories. I understand that people want to stay healthy while on holiday, which as you said can be done by having normal portion sizes and keeping the indulgences down, but a lot of people will find they are doing more exercise than normal each day just walking and exploring/getting lost, walking up stairs and carrying their suitcase around! Keep up the good work and happy travels 🙂

    March 19, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Such great tips! I totally agree about waking up early. It can be tempting to sleep in (especially when you’re on vacation) but you miss out on so much!