Travel advice: 26 dumb mistakes I won’t make again – Business Insider

Travel advice: 26 dumb mistakes I won’t make again – Business Insider

Screwing things up while traveling is a given.
Scott Barbour/Getty Images

In March 2018, I left New York to travel around the world as Business Insider’s international correspondent. In total, in my life, I’ve traveled to 30-plus countries.While traveling I’ve made tons of dumb mistakes that I’d like to avoid in the future. That includes everything from getting pickpocketed in the Mexico City metro to getting tricked by a fake taxi. Learn from my mistakes and save yourself some aggravation.Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.The idea that travel is an adventure is one of the oldest clichés in the book. But, it’s a cliché because it’s true. And, on adventures, things go wrong. Often.I’ve made so many mistakes while on the road that it would be impossible for me to recount them all. I’ve worn the wrong footwear on hikes and ended up with blisters as big as my heel.  I’ve been pickpocketed not once, but twice. I’ve taken a metro in the wrong direction a dozen times. The mistakes never end.But that’s also what I love about travel: the constant sense of exploration, of trial and error, of sketching out new terrain on your mental map.Below, I’ve collected as many of the mistakes as I can remember that I’ve made while traveling. There are a lot. Perhaps you’ll learn from my mistakes and save yourself some aggravation. 

6. In St. Petersburg, I made a mistake that prevented me from visiting The State Hermitage, the second largest art museum in the world: not buying tickets ahead of time. The line to buy tickets was three hours long.


9. You can save a lot of money booking a multi-city airfare on sites like Skyscanner or Expedia. But, on a trip to Mexico, I booked flights that had only a two-hour layover between them. When my first plane was late and the customs line long, I missed my second flight. And because it wasn’t with the same airline, I had to buy a new ticket for the second flight.

Courtesy of Harrison Jacobs

14. I take a ton of photos while traveling. During my six-month trip, I was backing photos up to a external hard-drive I had bought for a bargain. It broke and I lost everything. I skimped and paid the price. I bought two solid-state “tough” hard drives for the future.

The hard drive that broke.

17. When leaving a bar in Shanghai, I negotiated a price to my hotel with a taxi driver sitting outside. Big mistake. It cost double what it should have. Always make taxi drivers use the meter.

Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

20. It may sound great to visit the Mediterranean in the summer, but think again. Sure, the weather was nice, but prices in July and August were double or triple what they are the rest of the year. And that’s if you can even find a room or a spot on the beach. I’ll be visiting during the “shoulder” season (May, June, September, October) next time.

Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

21. One would think a light jacket is sufficient for visiting anywhere in early September. Maybe not the Arctic Circle in Sweden. I learned that the hard way, when I had to turn back on a mountain hike because it was too cold. The Swedes, of course, were in parkas. Dress properly.

22. When I visited Russia, I really wanted to explore the country’s vast natural beauty. Navigating the country without a car, however, isn’t easy. I hopped onto a multi-day tour only to find that the guide only spoke Russian. Make sure you ask about the language before booking.

Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

23. In many South American cities, there are two kinds of taxis: official and unofficial. When visiting Buenos Aires, I made the mistake of taking an unofficial taxi. The driver had a rigged meter and drove me in circles.

Wikimedia Commons

24. With 21.7 million people, Beijing is a big, crowded place. Even worse if you are driving. I made the mistake of scheduling meetings and activities on opposite sides of the city. Needless to say, I was very late.

Sittirak Jadlit/Shutterstock

25. Time does not work the same in all cultures. In China, I learned this the hard way. A bus driver told me the last bus of the day was at “7 p.m., maybe.” When I got there at 6:45 p.m., it had already left.

Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

26. It’s very easy to not drink enough water when traveling. Often, you don’t know whether the water is potable and the beer is cheaper. After years of skimping on water bottles, I got religious about my intake on my most recent trip. I was much healthier and happier.

Getty Images/Matt Cardy


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