6 Mistakes People Make While Traveling

My first adventure abroad was actually my very first adventure outside of my country. Apart from a 5-day vacation on the British Virgin Islands years earlier, which I refuse to count as actual travel since I spent the entire time sunbathing at the resort, I had never used my passport or flown on an international flight across the world.

Tony the tour guide (taught himself English).Needless to say, the learning curve for being a traveler was steep for me. I made a lot of mistakes my first year abroad that I now really regret. But, as usual, my mistakes are your gain! Before you head out to a new destination, keep these mistakes in mind so that you can avoid them during your explorations.

1. Avoiding travel tours

I blame hipster bloggers for creating the stigma around travel tours. For fear of being labeled a tourist (which really, who cares – there are worse names to be called), I refused to take any tours my first year living in South Korea.

It wasn’t until my stint in Taiwan that I learned to appreciate travel guides. Tours are actually a really fun way to meet people and see the sights. My advice is to take tours that look like fun to you and let the travel hipsters say what they will. Your adventure is all about you and your experiences anyway, so do what you want.

2. Not having a food bucket list

I ate so many delicious foods while abroad, but all of them were dishes that I stumbled upon by chance, whether at a night market or in a restaurant (I ordered a lot of random things when there were no English menus available, which is a ton of fun and I recommend it).

But, it wasn’t until my trip to Hong Kong that I started creating a bucket list for eats and drinks. After that trip, I really wished I had done it my entire time abroad, especially to find more unconventional or traditional dishes.

3. Buying cheap souvenirs

Magnets, journals, pens, and pencils. You name it, I bought it. Mainly as gifts for friends and family back home, but really, what are they going to do with a cheap pocket mirror with the words Thailand engraved on the front? I wish I had brought home tokens that were more unique like sands, shells, and handmade items.

4. Not picking up a bit of the language

Even small words and phrases like ‘hello’, ‘thank you’, and ‘more beer please’ are good to learn when visiting another country. Locals get so excited to find that you’re interested in learning about their culture and language. In South Korea especially, the people get really happy when you try to practice a new language.

5. Not journaling memories

A single journal entry is more valuable than a million photos of the same sunset. Click To Tweet Well, it is to me anyway. I took down entries about people, experiences I had, and misadventures that left me confused and lost. Looking back on those journals brings me right back to the country.

When I look at a photo I took of a sunset, I can’t honestly say where the photo was taken (unless it’s labeled), why I took the photo, or what I felt in that moment. Writing down experiences is like engraving memories in your mind.

6. Staying stuck with a phone screen in their face

I know it’s hard, but put the phone and camera down every once in a while and just appreciate the moment you’re in. Not every single dish needs a photograph. Not every single sunset needs to be snapchatted. Enjoy your adventures abroad and keep some memories just for yourself.

Calling all expert world travelers! What mistakes would you add to this list? Share your answer with other expats in a comment below!

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