It won’t be a surprise to any of you that I am absolutely in love with travel. I love planning trips, shopping around for great travel deals, holiday shopping, packing and then obviously – the actual travelling itself. However, I am certainly no travel expert and I have made mistakes many times.
I was thinking about this recently and it lead me down this train of thought – what mistakes I’ve made in my travelling adventures and what I have learnt from it. As much as I’d love to claim I’m an expert in travel, and nothing has ever gone wrong, I’d be completely lying to you – I’ve made many a mistake, and I wanted to explore that more here, to see what I’ve done and how I’ve learnt from it. So without further ado, I’ve rounded up 5 of my top mistakes in travel to explore what I’ve learnt and what I’d do again…
Following the ‘gram
This is the number one thing I am guilty of throughout my travels – ‘doing it for the gram’. As I run this travel blog and my GrundyTravels Instagram, I’m always searching for the best spots, restaurants and bars when I travel to a new location, but I have definitely been guilty of taking it too far sometimes. Sometimes you don’t need to hunt down the nearest rainbow doughnut or private speak-easy bar, and it can be exhausting and expensive trying to do things on holiday just for the pictures – and frankly it takes the joy out of it a bit.
Although, saying this, sometimes it really has worked in my favour using Instagram to plan a holiday – as I wrote about here – as it can help you discover places that you might not see in a guide book. It’s also a great way to discover new blogs, travel bloggers and destinations. When I start planning a new holiday I always head to Instagram to get a feel for the place, even when searching hotels, as it can provide a different perspective to their official photos.
Say this, there are so many occasions where off-the-cuff, random discoveries have proved just as good – even better than what I’ve pre-planned using Instagram. Overall, I’ve learnt that a holiday needs to involve equal parts Insta-inspo and also time to look away from the small screen and at my surroundings. Some of the best moments happen when you least expect them, and they don’t always need to have their picture taken!
Trying to over-pack
This is certainly something I’ve refined in recent years with my hand luggage, but I feel like when I have the option for luggage in the hold I tend to go gung-ho and pack every possible item of clothing I might want to wear.
It’s funny as my friends have made fun of how little my cabin luggage is, but don’t be deceived, when I have luggage to go in the hold I tend to go crazy and pack too much, and it ends up being heavier than those that have bigger suitcases than mine. However, it hits me every time I get to my destination and unzip my case – I really don’t need all that I’ve packed.
I think it’s partially the unnecessary FOMO of getting somewhere and wishing that you had packed that one thing you left behind. But I’ve learnt over the years that the majority of what I’ve packed lays at the bottom of my suitcase whilst I gravitate to my favorites and contemplate how many days use in a row I can get out of them. To be honest it’s a mistake I keep making, but in my 3 week trip I’ll be making to Australia next year, I’m really going to refine my options, I Promise!
Admitting That a Holiday Isn’t That Great
This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, and something I’ve seen others discussing too – the reality of a trip behind the glossy filter. Sometimes it’s easy to see people on their travels, exploring the world and looking like they’re having the best time, but we all really know that this can’t be the case the whole time.
Everyone’s had their low points on trips, it’s just not something that people tend to share – or put on Instagram. We’ve all felt a bit nervous, a bit unsure, a bit ill even when we’re on our travels, and I think sometimes we – myself especially – need to be more honest about that.
One example I can think of is my trip to Marrakech 4 years ago, because now with reflection I can admit that I really didn’t have the best time. I became ill half way through the trip after eating a questionable meal, and I grew tired of constantly being followed by people offering directions and then demanding money even when we declined. I hate the feeling of unease, and we were constantly trying to dodge people in the marketplace who would try and pull us into their shops, or place chained-up monkeys onto our shoulders and demand money for a picture.
I know plenty of people have had enjoyable experiences there, and some parts of my trip were great, but I felt that when I returned I was too proud to admit I hadn’t had a great holiday. It’s fair enough – it’s embarassing to admit that the place you splashed a lot of cash on, and took all your gorgeous pics wasn’t actually as good as it appeared.
I completely understand why people would want to only show the good bits – but when it comes to travel blogging especially, I want to give my honest opinion about my travels to those attempting the same trip – it would be unfair for me to only post the good bits without warning about the not-so-good.
This links in with the first point as the over-planning, saving locations on the ‘gram, plotting out maps and researching every possible hotel review is something I have done plenty of times. I’m not going to stop doing it anytime soon, as I absolutely love doing this when getting ready for a trip – and it helps build up the excitement, however I have been guilty of going OTT when it comes to planning every part of an upcoming holiday.
One thing I always think about in this regard is my interrailing trip 5 years ago – which we planned to perfection. I don’t regret it at all – it was a great trip and the over planning was necessary for us travel around Europe on the budget we were on. However, if money wasn’t an object I do believe the non-planning route to interrailing would’ve been incredible, just flying into a city and then deciding where to go on a whim and booking the hostels that day.
Essentially what I’ve learnt is, over-planning can be essential when helping to stick to a budget and it’s something I love doing to help build up the excitement for a holiday. However, a holiday shouldn’t be planning too much, as it can zap the fun out of it. It’s the same as the Instagram issue – I don’t want to waste a good holiday trying to fit in everything I’ve seen or read about being amazing. Sometimes a good time can be had if you just take it slow and do things on a whim.
Not following the jet-lag rules
The three main things I’ve heard for following Jet lag rules are – no caffeine on the day of travel, no alcohol in the air and to arrange my sleeping pattern when flying long-haul. And have I ever followed them? NO.
Call it excitement, stupidity or just over-zealously taking all of the free wine when you’re on the plane, but I’ve never managed to follow the proper jet lag rules and I’ve always felt terrible for it. It’s something I like to think that one day I will follow – especially on my upcoming trip to Australia, but I really don’t know how well I’ll do.
What I’ve learnt is that it really does make a different when you do the time difference maths, and not to go absolutely crazy on the free drinks…
I hope you’ve enjoyed my latest post – more posts will be coming weekly, but in the meantime check out my Grundy Travels Instagram for the latest updates!
Thanks for reading x