When it comes to travelling the world, it’s not just about what you can do to make it happen (save, book the time and plan), it’s also about what you absolutely shouldn’t do. I see people making these mistakes ALL THE TIME. Committing any of these faux pas is travel sabotage. If you are serious about turning your dream of travel into a reality or simply heightening the travel experience next time around, drop these 10 habits like hot potatoes immediately.
1 Following other peoples plans instead of your own
One of the biggest things that deters people from travelling is following a preordained plan for life – a blueprint set for them by somebody else. The blueprint may look like this:
School – Uni – Job – Home – Marry – Children
There is nothing wrong with following this blueprint. In fact, it looks pretty sensible to me but it might not be your blueprint.
Your blueprint might look something like this:
Uni – Travel – Start own business – Live with friends
We tend to follow these blueprints because they feel safe and stable and let’s face it, people have followed these paths in their millions since the dawn of time so we think, hey, if everyone else is doing this, it must be right, right?
The only giveaway that you are living the wrong life is that you feel tetchy, dissatisfied, empty, unenthusiastic, perhaps even anxious, angry and depressed. Yes, this life is fine but it’s not yours.
If you are always following what everyone else is doing, you are neglecting learning about what you really want to do yourself. I believe that we all know intuitively what we should be doing. Our feelings guide us there. Through a process of trial and error you can feel out what feels wrong and what feels right. When we follow the plans set for us by others, we may feel secure, but we will also probably feel miserable. If you only get to go around the track of life once, then you need to do it your way.
2 Waiting for other people
Look, it would be wonderful to travel the world with your friends and family every time, but chances are, if you are waiting on other people, it simply won’t happen. There are few times in life when everyone’s diaries perfectly align and often, time needs to be carved out in advance so that people have the opportunity to save and otherwise prepare for the trip.
When the timing is right, travelling with loved ones is heaven but when the timing is wrong, you’ll miss out on the experience of a lifetime due to scheduling conflicts. If you want to volunteer in Borneo, build homes in Africa, learn French in Paris or attend Camp America in the USA, please do it and do it for yourself. If people can join you for the ride, that’s great but if not, you owe it to yourself to seize the opportunity with both hands. Do you really want to say no to driving down Route 66 because Barbara from university can’t find a babysitter on those dates?
3 Casual spending
We all work hard for our money and we deserve to spend it and treat ourselves however consistent frivolous spending will eat into your travel fund like a kid who got at the Halloween candy. Although other countries are often far cheaper to live in for extended periods of time, your travel cash stash can’t withstand constant trips to Topshop, Pizza Express and Etsy. The ‘Keeping up with the Jones’s’ mentality is so destructive and thanks to social media, even more insidious. We can be bombarded in our bedrooms via our phones with images that fill us with envy and insecurity causing us to spend unnecessarily to plug the gap for a few days until we experience another void. If you can avoid this trap, you can spend your money meaningfully and with intention. You can make your cash work for you, pouring it into meaningful experiences and investments rather than on the pursuit of material things.
4 Thinking you have more time than you do
I don’t mean to scare you, but time is not an infinite resource. The immortal phrase ‘I’ll do it later’ (often used in relation to homework and the washing up) comes back to bite us all on the ass. If you have the time now, then do it now. Sometimes there is a good reason why we need to put things on hold or project them into the future, but often it’s simply a form of procrastination and self-sabotage. Use your time as well as your money wisely and there’s no limit to the things you can do and achieve.
5 Taking others word as gospel
Have you ever wanted to go somewhere and asked people for tips and advice before you booked? Have you then had someone tell you that you shouldn’t waste your time going to Peru/Thailand/India because that particular person did not have a good time? Sometimes talking with other travellers is a valuable experience, other time’s it can put us off a place that we might otherwise have loved.
One’s experience of a country is so subjective that you can never hang your hat totally on someone else’s opinion. By all means, ask your friends and loved ones for their opinions and advice, but don’t be afraid to have your own experience, independent of theirs.
6 Staying on the tourist trail
Wherever you go in the world, there are certain chains that you will bump into. You know what I’m talking about. McDonalds, Starbucks, KFC – they are always there, like old friends. When you feel homesick, confused or lonely, these friendly chains are always there to greet you with open arms. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you visit a country with a rich culinary history such as Thailand or Italy is to eat the same mass produced content that you can find in your hometown. I’m certainly not a food snob. You will find me in the local fast food joint but you will always see me at local food stalls, markets and restaurants. Sampling the local cuisine is one of the most enjoyable things about travelling to a new country.
As well as food, people tend to stick to the same experiences and activities. There is nothing wrong with that. What trip to Rome would be complete without a visit to the Colosseum? Beyond the tourist traps and bucket list moments, there is so much more to see and do so make sure that you don’t limit yourself to the tourist trail.
7 Doing it digitally
I think we are all a little addicted to technology. It’s hard not to be when it dominates so many facets of our lives. Although technology can keep us in tune with our families, friends and travel companions, there is a tendency to over-rely on it which ends up negatively impacting on our experience. Know when to plug in (keeping in contact and making travel plans) and know when to log off. When I visited a cliff-side restaurant on Nusa Lembongan, I was shocked at how many fellow tourists had their faces on their phones rather than on the view. Take your pictures, tag yourself and then enjoy the moment.
8 Procrastinating for perfection
In our modern day society, it’s easy to play pretend when it comes to perfection. The digital version of our lives can look so shiny, photoshopped and flawless but reality is messy and disjointed at the best of times. In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes people make with regards to many things, including travel, is waiting for things to be perfect. There’s no point going to America for two weeks because they’d rather go for three months. If they can’t afford the most luxurious safari then what’s the point of going at all? Like most things in life, travel is rarely perfect but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. If you’re waiting for perfection, you’ll be waiting forever. If you want a real experience, then act now.
9 Failing to unwind
I am so guilty of this but make sure that you do as I say, not as I do. Wherever I go, there is always so much that I want to do that I find it hard to press pause, stop and re-charge. Resting can bore me when there is so much to experience but yet without these vital breaks, burnout is inevitable. Whatever kind of travel experience you are planning, make sure that you factor in time for yourself. You don’t need to go-go-go and crash.
10 Failing to plan
When I say plan, I don’t mean that you carve up every minute of the travel experience into pre-ordained chunks. I do mean that you think about your goals and desires when you reach your destination of choice. There are certain experiences that can only be booked in advance and without a little pre-planning, your trip can blitz by in a rush and you can have achieved and seen nothing. Taking some time to decide what you want to do can go a long way as can a little research and planning.
So, if any of these habits are yours, please do ditch them immediately. If anything is going to stop you from travelling the world, don’t let it be yourself!
All my love