When you travel a lot, it’s natural to develop habits that work for you. For me, the few days before a trip tend always to follow the same pattern: I review my itinerary, make a mental list of what I want to pack, plan accordingly, and make my bed before I leave the house. Unfortunately, I’ve also developed a few bad travel habits along the way.
Bad Travel Habits and How to Quit Them
One habit that’s proven particularly hard to break is refusing to splurge on cabs when I’ll be out all day. Because I try to walk everywhere to save money, my feet are the ones paying the price at the end of the day.
We’ve all got our bad travel habits, but the good news is that you can break them with a little bit of effort. Whether you’re a workaholic walker like me or a packing procrastinator, here are some ways to break even your most persistent travel habits.
Not Learning Basic Vocabulary
If you frequently land in a new country and realize you never learned how to say hello or thank you, you’re probably with familiar with how silly it makes you feel. Learning new languages is difficult and might not seem worth it if you’re passing through many different countries or staying for a short amount of time, but knowing the basics can make all the difference when it comes to how comfortable you feel and how well you connect with local people.
Solution: Of course, there are plenty of language apps and tutorials you can use to learn a language, but there’s an easier solution if you don’t think you’ll have time to practice. Instead, make it a point to look up the basic words of the new language at least once before your trip and write them down. Keep them somewhere handy, like saved on a note on your phone, and when you get there, you’ll have them at your fingertips.
Booking at the Last Minute
You can tell yourself that you’re waiting for the prices to drop, but unless you’re very flexible, that can backfire: The longer you wait, the fewer options you’ll have. Whether you’re booking flights, accommodation, or a tour, you’re almost always better off booking well in advance and having everything organized before your trip.
Solution: If you still want to hold out for low rates, set a “book by” date for yourself at least a week or two before you leave for your trip. Consider it a self-imposed deadline and do whatever you need to do to hold yourself accountable. I like to schedule my personal deadlines into my calendar to make them feel more official.
Not Giving Yourself Enough Time to Pack
If you’ve got packing problems, it’s likely you’re a repeat procrastinator. This is one of the most common travel habits and it can be tough to break when life is busy. If packing lists have no effect on you, there’s one thing you can do that you probably have to do anyway.
Solution: A few days before you leave, do your laundry. Instead of putting your clothes away in your closet, pack the fresh clothes right into your suitcase. Not only will this ensure that the clothes you wear most often are fresh and clean, but it will also help you get a start on planning your outfits before and during your trip. After you put in your first load, pull out your luggage and start researching the essential items for your destination.
Packing More Than You Need
If you’re a chronic overpacker, you’ve probably had your fair share of struggles with the check-in luggage scale and bags that just won’t close. You might think you need to take advantage of your airline’s full luggage allowance, but the truth is you shouldn’t be filling up your luggage just because you can.
Solution: Use a smaller suitcase. Take into account how long you’ll be traveling and how many of your outfits can be reused, and then find the appropriately sized luggage for the length of your trip. You’d be surprised how little you’ll need.
Not Splurging When You Should
This one varies from traveler to traveler, but everyone has that one thing they hate to spend money on. Personally, I’m very stubborn when it comes to paying for cabs or public transportation and often choose walking instead. The downside of this is that I’m often too tired to enjoy a night out or I suffer from aching feet. For others, being too stubborn to spend might mean booking accommodation far from the center of town or missing out on a special food because it’s a little pricey.
Solution: Give yourself a budget to splurge. This small act of premeditation can make a huge difference in your travel experience. Knowing you’ll have a little money set aside to live a little will help you feel more comfortable spending spontaneously. Remember, this should be a set budget totally separate from your emergency fund to remove any guilt you might have.
Not Learning the Exchange Rate Ahead of Time
If this is one of your bad travel habits, you’ve probably found yourself wondering over and over again if you’re paying a fair price whenever you’re confronted with a new currency.
Solution: Keep a currency exchange app on your phone. Take out all the uncertainty at the cash register by keeping a reference ready. What’s great about the apps is that they are constantly updating, which means you’ll always know the most recent rate.
Ever feel like you need a vacation after your vacation? It’s probably because you’re signing on for too much. When you’ve only got a set number of days somewhere, it’s tempting to try and do it all, but that’s no reason to treat your vacation like one long to-do list.
Solution: Make peace with not being able to see everything. And if you can’t do that, make a list, identify your priorities, and book only those priorities. Leave everything else up to the moment. Trust me: That cooking class probably won’t seem like such a good idea after you’ve actually completed the three-hour walking tour.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Flight Attendant Secrets: 13 Tips for a Better Flight
- 10 Mistakes You’re Making at the Airport
- 11 Ways to Upgrade Your Next Trip for $100 or Less
Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer who is always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.