Video killed the radio star….
At the risk of seriously dating myself, do you remember that song? If you don’t (or weren’t around in 1980), it was the very first video played on MTV. Given how much technology has changed our lives, it’s easy to forget that MTV was once cutting edge. That station forever changed the music industry, how we’re entertained, and how we communicate with one another.
While it’s fun to look back, I don’t really believe video killed the radio star. Tune in during any morning or afternoon commute, and you’ll find lively banter, intense political discussions/arguments, human interest stories, and even music. The radio keeps us company, it entertains and educates. Sometimes, you’ll even find your friendly neighborhood travel consultant on the dial….
Last week, I visited the WSKB morning show to talk travel with hosts Katherine and Elli. It was a blast. In the spirit of Halloween (pun intended) we discussed haunted vacations and a few hotels for anyone looking for a good fright. (In a nutshell, go to Savannah and New Orleans.)
The show went so well; I’ve been invited back. Stay tuned for more details.
In the meantime, I’ve identified some common travel mistakes (which may, or may not come from experience – I plead the fifth).
Common Travel Mistakes Everyone Makes
No Passport/Invalid Passport
If you haven’t traveled in a while, make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from the day you arrive at your destination. If you don’t have a passport, apply ASAP. New applications take 4-6 weeks, and the State Department predicts longer wait times in 2017. So, get to it.
Related: Not checking visa requirements
Countries like China, Brazil, and Russia require US Citizens to obtain a visa before visiting. Some countries require “special permission” or restrict travel to certain cities or areas of the country. Always do your homework before you leave regarding every place you plan to visit.
Planning an Overambitious Itinerary
I’m a firm believer in quality over quantity when I travel. Yes, this may be the only time you’ll ever visit France/China/Russia/New Zealand, but if you rush to cram in everything, you won’t really see anything.
Be flexible, and save time to kick back to enjoy a sidewalk cafe or a park bench. Also, be honest about your interests and do what you like. If you wouldn’t visit an art museum/sporting event/giant ball of twine at home, why spend your precious vacation time visiting an art museum/sporting event/giant ball of twine? Follow your heart and have fun.
Related: Doing zero research
Some people love uncertainty…I mean spontaneity, and would rather wing it while on vacation. Personally, I want to spend my time on vacation doing stuff, not figuring out stuff to do. Guidebooks are a good place to start, but a quick Google search of the ten best/most unusual things to see gives enough information to start, then talk to locals or other travelers to find interesting places to see, eat, and explore.
Pack items that do double duty, clothes that you can mix and match, and plan to do laundry if necessary. Otherwise, it’s just a pain in the neck.
Not Booking Enough Time Between Flights
( A.k.a. assuming an airline wouldn’t sell you a ticket if you couldn’t make the connecting flight.)
One word, snow (or whatever weather disrupts flights in your neck of the woods). Remember, boarding gates change and delays happen, build in some extra time for peace of mind.
Neglecting to Check Documents and Bookings immediately for Errors
Read and reread flight details, hotel and car reservations, and tour information. If there’s a mistake address it immediately, or risk missing a flight or landing without a place to stay.
Not Buying Insurance
Insurance means peace of mind when you travel, especially if you’re spending thousands of dollars on a trip. Some medical insurance covers illness or injury on the road, but not an emergency evacuation, trip cancellation or interruption, and lost baggage. I guess you have to ask yourself….”Do I feel lucky?”
Bringing the Wrong/Bad Shoes
We all want to be stylish, but nothing ruins an amazing day in a new city like sore feet and blisters. So buy good shoes…
….but, not sneakers! Nothing screams AMERICAN tourist more than a pair of sneakers. It’s important to be yourself, but sometimes it’s also good to blend in, you know what I’m talking about.
Completely Trusting “City Center” Descriptions
Always check Google maps and compare the hotel’s location with the actual city center (or must-see attractions). Otherwise, you’ll waste money on cabs, or time with 60-minute daily commutes.
Skipping Local Food
No one wants to get sick, but local food is a joy. Here is my eating local rule: If there’s a long line of local people waiting to eat the food that means, 1) it’s good and 2) fresh (because there’s a lot of turn over). Also, make sure the food is burning hot when it’s served.
A few more random bummers:
Forgetting to notify bank/credit cards of an overseas trip.
Leaving the airport without local currency. Change some money at home or at the airport.
Keeping all of your money in a single place
Neglecting to check your cell phone plan before the trip.
Booking based on pictures, low prices, and (possible) fake reviews.
Forgetting to pack a change of clothes in your carryon bag.
We all make mistakes. Luckily, many of our “mistakes” eventually turn into our funniest travel stories. Where are you going next?