Whether it's your first trip or your fiftieth, it's easy to make a thoughtless mistake during the planning process that can make your travel more difficult than it needs to be.
Take me for example. Toward the end of 2016, I proudly booked my first trip overseas. While I had taken care to investigate visas and flights (I'm all about those safety ratings), it was the little details that sailed past my notice added up to make the holiday a pain in spots. Here are the three biggest mistakes I've made - and a few extra tips thrown in to make your next overseas holiday a great one.
1. I didn't investigate the location of my AirBNB's too thoroughly.
When I arrived in Paris, I was so excited to see the famed city of lights. My thrill however, started to wane as I noticed the Eiffel Tower getting smaller and further away in the rearview mirror of our taxi. I should have suspected something had gone awry from the moment our driver didn't immediately recognise the suburb - and it was only after a thirty-five-minute cab ride that I realised our lodgings were significantly further out of the city than initially expected.
Having an AirBNB so far out of the city made it difficult to explore the city as well as I'd have liked and added a significant cost to the holiday, constantly payingfor cabs and Ubers to take us back and forward by car.
How to avoid making the same mistake: Google Maps is your friend, or in the cases where it's hard to tell (as was my problem with Paris), I highly recommend looking at consumer reviews.
2. I packed way too much stuff.
Everything is essential when you're in the packing stage before your trip. What if you get cold? Throw in an extra sweater. What if you get bored on the plane? Chuck in an extra device. You're heading to a snow lodge, but what if there is an indoor pool? In go the board shorts!
Overpacking was one of the biggest mistakes I made before my first trip. With a head full of 'what-ifs', I stuffed my giant suitcase full of extras I didn't use once overseas. The worst part however, was lugging the case across borders, onto planes, trains and automobiles. In Spain, I had to drag the bag up five flights of stairs. Trying to find something as small as a power converter became a two-person mission. Overpacking remains my biggest regret from the trip as it definitely sucked the enjoyment out of seeing new cities before we could check into our accommodation.
How to avoid making the same mistake: Look at each item you want to pack and think to yourself - 'is this an 'in-case' item'?
I'm taking these shoes in-case we go somewhere nice.
I've packed this device in-case I get bored.
I'm taking these extra jeans in-case the others get dirty and I don't want to wear shorts.
The easy, sure-fire way to avoid overpacking is ditching every in-case item and replacing cheap items like some toiletries overseas.
3. I scheduled too many activities into too short a time.
As I had given myself only a short time in each city I visited, I quickly discovered the days weren't long enough for the number of activities I had booked (and even pre-paid for). I was running from location to location, tired before noon. I underestimated how long each activity would need - for example, a few hours at the Lourve were too few. I could easily have spent a week wandering awe-struck through the many diverse exhibits.
When I arrived in Spain, it was the only time on the trip I found myself with nothing to do. Laid back in the warm Madrid sun with a jug and sangria and cheese, I didn't have a care in the world. It was a delightful way to be.
How to avoid making the same mistake: Pre-book the things that you absolutely have to - shows that sell-out, or attractions that will undoubtedly have horrible lines. For everything else, plan as you go! I take a list of things I want to see and work it out on the day.