With COVID vaccines rolling out and spirits rising, a lot of people are starting to remember a charming little thing from ages-past called “travelling”. We have our Pinterest boards and our social media feeds chock full of breathtaking waterfalls, beautiful foreign streets, delicious exotic foods and thrilling destinations. If you’re like me, you’re probably just hovering over the “book my flight” button for the day that the world opens up to stir-crazy adventurers and travellers.
Not so fast if you’re new or somewhat new to travelling, though. As fun as crossing international borders and experiencing the exotic can be, your trip can go quite wrong if you’re not careful. Every year many, many expensive trips get ruined, tourists get robbed, and whole holidays end up being a disappointing humdrum. There are some pretty significant risks associated with travelling. And even for mistakes that aren’t grave, there are some pretty common mistakes that new international travellers end up making that take a toll on the trip. Hopefully, the tips in this article will help you sidestep these risks and have a fun, memorable adventure that will bring a smile to your face for years to come.
#1: Not Telling Your Bank About Your Travel Plans
Since it’s banks’ job to keep your money safe, they can get a little nervous when withdrawals on your account start showing up from a foreign country. This can lead to them placing a hold on your accounts or locking you out of your credit card. Such measures are very valuable in thwarting overseas hackers and other dangerous thieves who might try to access your savings, but obviously, you yourself don’t ever want to get stuck on the wrong side of your bank’s security.
So call your bank or search their information beforehand to find out what their policies and procedures are for this situation. Most likely, you’ll just need to let them know you’re travelling so they can enable access to your funds while overseas. Your future self who’s in a rush to pay a taxi driver or pay for food will thank you for having taken these measures beforehand.
#2: Not Actively Preventing Accidents
If you think getting into a car accident or suffering an injury in your home country is a worst-case scenario, just imagine how much worse it would be in a foreign place where you may not know the language or the culture, and you might not have ready access to speak with insurance providers or other professionals you trust. Although accidents and other injuries are unlikely, they’re a costly enough possibility that you should actively prevent such incidents. Know how your insurance applies in other countries and stay away from dangerous activities. It’s not worth the risk. Additionally, as you choose foods to eat, err on the side of caution if any food looks unsanitary. As you treat yourself to desserts and fun cuisines, also don’t forget to maintain good dental hygiene to prevent unsavoury potential dental risks.
#3: Packing Too Much Or Packing Inefficiently
As you’re packing your suitcase and deciding whether to bring that umbrella, that extra swimming suit or that large book, you might have the adage “Better safe than sorry!” come to mind. But remember: when it comes to packing, this rule changes. It’s actually safer and better to not bring things if they can be easily replaced at your destination or if you really care about them. The travel aficionado Tim Ferris argues that packing every little thing you might need is a mistake. “I’ve learned to instead allocate $50-200 per trip to a ‘settling fund,’ which I use to buy needed items once they’re 100% needed.”
Managing, paying for, packing and repacking, and transporting heavy suitcases is a mistake that most seasoned travelers only let themselves make once since it can be such a pain. Instead, just make a strategic list of the things you really need or are easy to carry, like a toothbrush and toothpaste. Be sure to remember important medication and medical devices.
#4: Attracting Pickpockets
Countries and destinations that receive lots of tourists tend to attract lots of opportunistic pickpockets. And tourists’ lack of savvy in certain regions combined with their frequently flustered or preoccupied mindsets make them easy prey. So when you travel be sure to keep your valuables close – very close. For invaluable items like smartphones, wallets and passports, consider getting an anti-theft bag, purse, or shoulder pack. Unlike most traditional bags and purses that seem to compete to have the most side pockets and accessible compartments, these anti-theft items use clever lock and zipper mechanisms to make it difficult for someone to slip their hand in easily. They limit bag pockets and vulnerabilities so that all access points can be easily monitored.
Additionally, make sure to keep your valuables out of sight when they’re in your car, and try to not show off any wealth with expensive watches or jewellery as this can attract thieves. Also, take extra care when you’re in crowded areas such as subways or viewing galleries. Situations, where lots of people are forced to be close to each other, make it easy for pickpockets to get close to you and evaluate their opportunities.
#5: Having An Overly Ambitious Itinerary
When seeing a cool new place for the first time, your inclination might be to pack every single minute of your time there with museum visits, tours, train rides, and other adventures. Although these activities are great, don’t let them keep you from stopping to smell the roses! If you’re in a rush the whole trip, never letting yourself have a minute to soak things in you might be so busy trying to have a good time that you miss some great moments. Rather, choose just a few of the most interesting activities and points of interest and give yourself plenty of time to just breathe it in and savour the moment.
The Carousel would like to thank Ryan Cook for his article.