Biggest travel mistakes (and how not to make them)

On this blog you’ll find many traveltips, must-do’s and see’s and itineraries for the prettiest destinations all over the world. But I hardly ever talk about things you should NOT do while travelling. So here’s a list of the biggest travel mistakes.

1)     Book a cheap accommodation without checking the reviews

When you are travelling a lot or for a longer period of time, cheap accommodation can save you a lot of money. And yes, there are some absolute gems out there. Cheap hostels on a prime location with delicious breakfast included for 5$ a night…

But don’t forget to check reviews. If your accommodation of choice seems absolutely perfect and you can’t find any reviews, chances are it is too good to be true. My tip? Book accommodation through well-known apps like Booking.com and Hostelworld.

But sometimes you’re lucky: I stayed in a very cheap hostel in Singapore with hardly any reviews, but it opened just a few days earlier. So everything was absolutely brand new and quite luxurious, and they started off with cheap prices in order to get bookings and reviews. This is an exception. Most of the time a lack of reviews means a lack of quality and cleanliness.

2)     Get too close to stray dogs and cats

travel mistakes: petting stray dogs cats

They are the absolute cutest: those stray dogs and stray cats on the streets, following you around everywhere you go. We had a stray dog following us for a while we here hiking to Poon Hill in Nepal, and there were two stray dogs who accompanied us when we were hiking Petra in Jordan. It’s pretty common, but the best thing you can do is not pay any attention to those animals. You never know if they have rabies, so petting them is an absolute travel mistake!

I actually had a former classmate who got bitten by a stray dog in Kathmandu. It meant she had to reschedule her whole Nepal itinerary, since she had to be close to the hospital for repetitive anti-rabies shots. She was lucky, because she was already in Kathmandu and that particular hospital had all the necessary medicine available. But many hospitals aren’t as equipped.

So just don’t get too close to stray animals.

3)     Visit the Tiger Temple

The Tiger Temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand… don’t go there, it’s one of the biggest travel mistakes you can make! Those poor animals are being drugged so you can pet them and take pictures with them. The living conditions are awful and officials even found 40 dead tiger cubs in the freezer. So please don’t spend your money here; it’ll only motivate those companies to continue with these malpractices.

4)     Elephant rides

I want to start off by telling you this is one of the travel mistakes I made myself. I thought it was a fun experience at the time, but elephant rides are definitely a no-go. These animals are being “trained” to transport tourists, but they are terribly mistreated. When I did an elephant tour, I was a lot younger and I just didn’t know about the living conditions and the so-called “training” (read: abuse) these elephants had to endure. That’s why I’m telling you now: Do Not Ride An Elephant. Thanks.

5)     Don’t know anything about the laws and customs of the country you are travelling to

Did you know it’s illegal to be critical of the king and the royal family in Thailand? Are you aware hat vaping and e-cigarettes are not permitted in Bahrain? And did you know you can get jail time for throwing a piece of trash on the streets in Singapore? It’s important to read about the country you are visiting. They have different rules and regulations, and I guess a court room and jail aren’t things you want to explore while travelling.

6)     Forget to double check which airport you are travelling from

Bangkok, for example, has two big airports which are both in use. There are many flights which have a layover in Bangkok, but sometimes you have to change airports. So if you arrive at Don Muang Airport and your next flight departs from Suvarnabhumi airport, make sure you have enough time to get from one airport to the other, because they are 30 miles apart. So make sure to double check which airport your flight arrives, and from which one the next flight departs.

Another important thing to check: your gate. Sometimes it changes, and you have to make your way to the other side of the airport as soon as possible. If you’re for example in Changi Airport in Singapore, it can be a loooong trip to get to a different gate.

7)     Taking a rental scooter or car without checking for damages

Unfortunately, many rental businesses aren’t exactly honest companies. They will try to make extra money off of you if they can. How? By letting you pay for damages on rental vehicles which you didn’t cause. It’s a dirty trick, but it is used a lot.

Scooter blog travel mistakes

You can prevent this from happening by taking photos and videos of your rental scooter or car before you drive off. Make sure to capture every little dent, or you might get the bill later.

Tip: sometimes local car rental companies are better than the big global ones, for example when you are renting a car in Jordan.

8)     Keeping your valuables outside of your locker

If you are staying in hostels, make sure they have lockers. This way you can store valuables like a (spare) creditcard, some cash money, a camera, GoPro and of course your passport. Since you’re amoung backpackers, in general there isn’t a lot of stealing going on in hostels, but you never know if there’s someone wandering around with bad intentions. So put your valuable belongings in a locker and close it with a high-quality combination lock. Better safe than sorry.

Tip: make sure to take photocopies of your passport. I always store one in my e-mail / dropbox for emergencies, and I usually take a photocopy in my daypack instead of my real passport.

Do you have any travel mistakes to add to this list?

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