Episode 5: Podcast Breakdown + Extras
Hey, hey! Welcome to today’s episode. We’re talking mistakes today, something that we are very well versed in. There’s a lot to say as far as taking the steps to be as prepared as possible, but there is always other shit that comes up. Today we’ll be talking about some common travel mistakes that we've personally made, as well as some we’ve seen others make, and some good steps to take minimize these common mistakes!
So let’s get in here and breakdown some of these and give some alternatives to help avoid these mistakes!
1. Over or Under Scheduling
We cannot say enough about the topic of over-planning, and it is a critical error many first-time travelers make. In fact, this is one of our biggest hurdles to overcome when we plan for people's first trips. They want to do everyyyyything. Like everything. If their train is passing through a city that they have heard of, they want to get off and explore that town for a few hours and then carry on. The problem here is people over-estimate what they'll be able to do, AND the amount of time it takes to travel from destination to destination.
For example, if you have a 2 hour train ride to your next destination in Europe, yes the train ride is a quick one. But it does not include getting from your accommodations to the train station, finding the right platform and train in a place where you cannot speak the language or read the signs, and getting off the train in your new destination and having to figure out how to get to your next accommodation. So yes, the train ride was 2 hours, but by the time you settle into your next place, half the day is gone. And God forbid you miss your 4 minute connection to the next train, you'll be hanging around trying to figure out where to buy a ticket for whenever the next one comes.
I cannot emphasize this enough, and we see this so, SO often. Yes, it's exciting being there and we completely understand wanting to see as much as possible. It is incredibly tempting, but I promise you, you will be a much, much happier traveler if you stick to a reasonable amount of plans.
And the same goes for under-planning. If you do little to no research, you'll be pissed at yourself, too. Because you won't understand how to take local transportation, or you'll miss out on things you would have loved to have seen that you easily could have done.
This is a friggin' doozy; and on our very first trip, we made this one. Even though we each only brought a carry-on for our nearly 3 month long trip, the items we packed we're exactly as practical as we needed them to be and we still had some pieces that went unused.
Over-packing will be the bane of your existence on your trip. Because guess who has to haul all that shit around? You do! And we promise you, you'll be pissed and hot and tired AND having to freaking lug around 3 huge bags is just about the last thing you'll want to do.
We have a kind of rule for packing; each item has to have at least TWO purposes. This means we bring cozy shorts that we can wear during the day and dress up a little bit AND they can function as pajamas. Or a t-shirt that you can throw a necklace over, pair with jeans and sneakers AND it has to be a shirt you can go for a hike in. Rarely do we bring something which only serves us one purpose. If we want to bring a fancier outfit, or a romper we make sure it's something that we can wear many times.
An example: I usually bring ONE fancier/going-out outfit. If it's a skirt and a cute top, that serves as pretty much my only going-out outfit, so I make sure it's something more subtle (not bright red) and that I have another shirt that would also look fine with the skirt AND some other bottoms that looks good with the top.
Everyone knows they over-pack, but really taking that extra time to make sure each and EVERY item you bring is going to serve multiple purposes for you is the key.
We've seen other traveling women bring 3 different pairs of high heels/boots for going out, and a pair of sneakers and a pair of hiking boots, and sandals and a pair of rain boots, and we're here to tell you, that's wayyyy too fucking much, friend. The same thing goes for shoes, the shoes you're bringing need to serve you more than one purpose. For example: bring sandals you can pair with a dress AND that are comfortable for walking around all day in jeans with.
I shit you not, we usually only bring 2 pairs of shoes with us. So I bring a pair of black running shoes, and depending on where we're going...either hiking boots, or sandals. This will also help you work on being able to pull off a European look of jeans and sneakers... And obviously, yes I'd love to bring a pair of shoes for every possible occasion, but you will be thanking yourself later when you don't have to lug around an entire separate suitcase full of your damn shoes.
Packing the wrong stuff
While we pack very, very lightly, we sometimes end up packing the wrong things. So we have brought pants that weren't exactly the most practical and we ended up leaving them behind. Or, we've brought kind of odd clothes that we thought we would wear more than we actually did, and we left those behind too and bought different stuff wherever we were to bring with us for the rest of the trip.
So just make sure when you are packing that you're bringing the RIGHT stuff, the right shoes, the right shirts and jacket, and everything else. If your aim is to pack lightly, ensuring you do this so important; you want everything you bring to be useful, there's no room for fluff!
3. Not researching transportation
We've gotten much better at this one, but we made our fair share of this mistake. While using public transportation can definitely prove challenging, it is almost always the least expensive way to get around. It's always much, much easier to just call a cab right when you arrive, or anytime you need to make your way about the destination you're in, but there are many times when you can take public transportation for just a few bucks rather than $30-40 for that same cab ride.
It's also a great way to get around many cities and gives you a real sample of what the destination is like.
4. Eating Crappy Food
This one we've done more than we can count. We usually head out for the day after breakfast and get so preoccupied doing what ever we're doing that we don't think about food until we're both fast approaching hangry (hungry-angry, for those who don't know) and we end up stopping at the first place that serves a hot meal.
Obviously, one of the great parts about traveling is eating the food and having the drinks from that particular destination, and we have missed out on so many amazing meals because we wait too long and don't do our research. And by research, we don't mean you need to look up a place for every single meal and plan it out, but certainly putting some effort into neighborhoods that may have some good street food and restaurants will get you a long way.
5. Phone + Technology
This one is essentially just making sure you're phone will work for you how you want it to. So depending on your cell phone provider, look into getting the International Data plan, or texting package you may need. We've made the mistake of trying to text and call with family members and not having the texting plan we needed and consequently paying a much higher bill for that month.
6. Documents + Medications
Make sure you have the RIGHT documents, if you need a Visa for the country you'll be visiting, make sure you have that Visa.
Don't wait until the very last minute to apply for your passport and then have to expedite it; this is already a hefty expense and waiting until the last minute will cost you many more dollars than you had planned on. In conjunction with this, bring a printed copy of those important documents, because should you lose, or have them stolen, you'll be happy to at least have a paper copy of them. We also take a picture of our documents and put them in our Google Drive so we can access them anywhere as long as we have wifi.
As far as medications, bring the things you know you may need. It may be harder to get them where you're going, and it may be way easier. But at least you'll know for sure you'll have access to them if you just bring them. We always bring Ibuprofen, Midol and some other essentials just because it's easier sometimes than hunting down a pharmacy when you're not feeling great.
Let your bank know where and when you'll be traveling. And even before you get there, you may need to call your bank and let them know when you're buying things in preparation for the trip, like International Flights, making train reservations in another country, or booking tours. We've had our card denied on many of these occasions because our banks thought it was a tad weird we were buying flights to Sweden when we had never used our card Internationally before.
In regards to the amount of money you'll need on a daily basis...don't carry too much! There's no reason you need to be walking around with thousands of dollars on you. There are ATM's available nearly everywhere where you can draw out any cash you many want or need. We've found that just using our bank cards and having small amounts of cash on us has worked best. SO don't make me nervous with that wallet-full of cash.
Don't forget you can do laundry during your trip! This also helps to aid in the light packing, as you can bring your essentials and just wash them as needed throughout your trip. Just make sure to do a tad bit of planning on about when in the trip you'll be doing laundry and find a good place near where you'll be staying.
We've made the mistake of waiting until we were kind of desperate for clean clothes, that we took our laundry to get done for wayyy more expensive than we had seen it in our previous destination... so do a little bit of planning ahead here.
We've talked about this one so many times already, but making sure you are aware of some culture norms and have a basic understanding of proper etiquette in the places you'll be visiting is so crucial. For example, the waiters in restaurants in America are expected to be very friendly and check-in on you throughout the meal and the check arrives usually before you've finished you're meal. You will not have this same experience in very many other places, BUT this doesn't mean the service is subpar or the waiter is rude....it is simply different. You will largely be left alone to enjoy your meal and company, and if you need something from the waiter, it's your job to politely wave them over and ask.
Knowing some basic etiquette in the destination you'll be traveling to is so, so crucial.
How to strike the balance between over-planning + under-planning [00:02:20]
The importance of doing your research on local transportation [00:04:02]
The difference between over-packing and packing the wrong things [00:09:40]
How to protect your travel documents and make sure you have back-ups [00:16:03]