12 Ways To Ruin Your Vacation (And How To Avoid Them)

sad traveler

Sad traveler. Photo courtesy of Michael Dorokhov.

When traveling, things won’t always go according to plan. However, sometimes you are actually the reason your trip goes south. To ensure you’re not the cause of your own travel demise, here are some vacation tips, including 12 ways to ruin your vacation, and how to avoid them.

1. You Don’t Check A Country’s Entry Requirements

This is imperative when planning a trip. It’s not just your passport you’ll need to bring – which, by the way, you should check to ensure is not expired and has the necessary amount of empty visa pages – but possibly visas, medical records or vaccinations. For example, travelers are not permitted to enter the country of Ghana in Africa without getting a yellow fever vaccine. To prove you got the shot, you will need to carry a signed yellow card given to you by your travel doctor. Likewise, entry requirements vary for citizens of different countries. For instance, in countries like Brazil and Bolivia, it is not necessary for Europeans to get a visa, while it is for U.S. citizens.

To ensure you have the proper entry requirements for the country you’re going to, first make an appointment with a travel doctor to get the necessary medical attention. You should also visit the U.S. Department of State’s International Travel website to get up-to-date information on entry requirements.

2. You Let Little Things Bother You

It’s safe to assume that when you’re traveling, something will probably go wrong, whether it’s a lost reservation, missed train or bad service at a restaurant. While you can’t stop mishaps and annoyances from occurring, you can choose how you will handle them. So your waitress was slow and brought you the wrong dish. Make a joke of it and enjoy the extra time spent with your travel partner. So the hotel lost your reservation and the only place with availability was a guest house kitschy decor. Take the opportunity to get to know the guesthouse owner and enjoy a glimpse into local culture.

3. You Obsess About Staying Under Your Budget

While sticking to your budget is important, it’s also important not to let the financial stress ruin your trip. You need to be able to have fun, while not fretting over every penny you spend. Give yourself a budget that’s lower than what you can actually spend, so that if you go a bit over you won’t be losing sleep over it. Also, arm yourself with as many budget-travel tips as possible, so you’re already in the right mindset. You may also want to think about putting a certain amount of money somewhere where you won’t have access to it while away, so it will be there when you get home.

For more on this, check out 12 Times You Should Break Your Travel Budget.

phone

Phone. Photo courtesy of Dominik Syka.

4. You Don’t Confirm Your Reservations

One regular travel mishap is tour companies, restaurants and hotels losing reservations. Instead of assuming everything is fine, confirm each reservation a day or two in advance so there are no last-minute surprises. Moreover, make sure you have written/email confirmation for all bookings, as this will make it easier to resolve any problems that arise.

5. You Choose A Travel Partner You’re Incompatible With

Choosing a travel partner that’s on the same page as you is crucial to having a positive travel experience. This doesn’t just mean you should have similar interests, but budgets, travel styles and planning strategies, as well. For example, if you arrive in Mendoza and your travel partner wants to stay in 5-star hotels, lay by the pool and get spa treatments while you want to stay in hostels, go hiking and sample the street food you’re most likely going to have issues. Before booking a trip with someone, have a conversation with them and ask them what their expectations for their trip are, what their budget is, if they like to plan things in advance or go with the flow and other crucial questions.

For more on this, check out Essential Questions To Ask Yourself Before Choosing A Travel Partner.

6. You Don’t Keep Yourself Healthy

While you’re going to want to explore the nightlife, and your sleep schedule may suffer, it’s important to keep yourself healthy to be at your best for exploring your destination. When I was in Mancora, Peru, I neglected to reapply sunscreen when lying by the pool. It only took about four hours before I had huge blisters on my legs. By that night, I had a fever and was vomiting. I lay in bed for three entire days, trying to re-hydrate and sleep off the pain. Don’t be stupid, and don’t stretch yourself too far. Get a decent amount of sleep, drink a lot of water, eat right, stay active, wear sunscreen and take precautions when doing adventurous activities.

Maasai

Samburu man from the Maasai. Photo courtesy of Retlaw Snellac Photography.

7. You Look Down On The Culture

Whether you’re traveling to the next town over or across the world you’re bound to find differences from what you’re used to at home. In certain destinations, however, the more the beliefs, traditions and customs will seem completely foreign and difficult to understand. One reaction of some people is to look down on the culture as being uneducated or not as good as their own, which is not only egocentric, but also can lead to a negative feeling about the place you’re visiting. Instead of acting like an outsider looking in, immerse yourself in the culture. Learn and experience as much as you can, and even when you don’t agree with something appreciate that the world has differences, which is what makes travel so interesting.

For more on this, check out What Is “Weird” When Traveling?.

8. You Ignore Signs Of Travel Fatigue

When on vacation, travel fatigue is no laughing matter. If you begin to feel tired, cranky or just couldn’t care less about the trip anymore, that’s when it’s time to take action. Book a hotel, get a massage, call a friend or family member from home, write in your journal, exercise and do whatever it takes to get yourself in the right mindset again. If you don’t, you’ll miss out on really making the most of your trip.

9. You Avoid The Locals

When traveling, the locals are your inside source to information on the destination and its culture. Avoiding the locals means you’re not truly experiencing the place you’re visiting, leading to an unfulfilled travel experience. Instead of thinking of these people are foreigners who don’t speak your language and won’t understand you, view an interaction as the chance to have a cultural exchange. And if you can become friends with a local you’ll also be able to go to local bars, restaurants and places you may not have ever known existed.

10. You Don’t Try Anything New

Traveling is the perfect time to try new things, as you’re already in a more open-minded state. Not trying anything new on your vacation can lead to regrets later on, especially if the people you traveled with were more adventurous. Remember, travel is the perfect time to face your fears, so do something you’ve never done before. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean you need to go jumping out of planes and swimming with sharks as your first act of courage. Start small by trying a new food, or participating in a cultural tradition.

rain

Even on a rainy day you can still feel like the sun is shining. Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley.

11. You Let Bad Weather Keep You From Exploring

Just because it’s raining doesn’t mean your trip needs to be put on pause. If it’s something you really want to do and would still be worthwhile, do it anyway. Furthermore, you could also revise your trip itinerary to include some indoor activities, and some outdoor activities that don’t require viewpoints or slippery terrain.

During a trip to Banos, Ecuador, it rained almost everyday I was there. While I had planned to bike down a volcano and hike to the town’s viewpoint, those plans didn’t quite make sense with the weather. However, that didn’t mean I was staying indoors. I simply changed my itinerary to include adventure activities that went well with rain – canyoning, rafting and relaxing in the natural hot springs. Likewise, the one excursion I had really wanted to do, a two-day tour to the Amazon Jungle, I did anyway. Despite some rain, it ended up being really fun.

12. You Go Way Over Your Budget

Going way over your budget can be detrimental, and can cause a lot of anxiety during the trip. Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean when you get home the bills will have disappeared. If you notice you’re consistently going over your budget, re-evaluate what you’re doing. Start keeping a journal of your purchases so you become more accountable for what you spend. In addition, begin taking advantage of free activities, do more walking and take fewer taxis, dine in cheaper local restaurants and look for hostels and inexpensive hotels and guesthouses. Doing these things can help get you back on track. By the same token, if you know you’re not good at sticking to an allowance, you may want to consider traveling to a budget-friendly country.

What recommendations would you add to this list? Please share in the comments below.

This article was adapted from a piece originally published on Gadling

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2 Comments

    1. @Candice: Eeek! That’s never fun. My friends make fun of me because I ALWAYS have a water bottle in my bag. I would rather be starving for days than be thirsty for 10 minutes. Hate that feeling :/

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