“Everyone tells you that traveling will make you more confident, that you’ll find yourself, that you’ll be creatively inspired,” said Breffni Horgan, the head of product and design at hostel-booking company Hostelworld. “That’s all true.”
Still, there are a lot of things that can go wrong on your trip if you don’t put your safety first. That’s why travel experts like Dr. Talya Miron-Shatz from Cambridge University and author Patricia Hajifotiou compiled some of the worst travel mistakes you can make in 2019.
The first mistake you can make? Giving into FOBO (the fear of missing out).
Don’t feel pressured to visit tourist spots
“A big and common mistake is to bite off more than you can chew because you ‘should,'” said Miron-Shatz. “We tell ourselves that we absolutely must cover every site and attraction, but, just like in other aspects of life, we benefit from some mental decluttering and letting go of ‘shoulds’.”
The fear of missing out can creep up while you travel. You feel the need to visit every tourist spot you can, not because you want to but because you feel like you should.
Giving into travel FOBO can turn your vacation into a checklist. And that isn’t fun for anyone involved.
“Once we’re in the moment, enjoying the waterfall and not stressing over the four other sites we need to check off the list before lunch, the trip becomes so much better,” said Miron-Shatz.
This goes for choosing trip destinations, too. New York City and Los Angeles might be Instagram-worthy vacation spots, but they’re also two of the top five worst cities for parking.
Think about vacation spots you want to visit. Avoid the spots that’ll make you stressed out.
Don’t be too strict with your plans
You might like structure when it comes to traveling. It makes you feel less anxious and more in control. But you might keep yourself from having a great time when you rely too much on your itinerary.
“Most people, when they travel, have an unrealistic expectation that everything will go magically right on their trip,” said Hajifotiou, author of Travel Like You Mean It! “It will not, and when that happens, you need to keep two things in mind. I call it the two Ps: Patience and Perspective.”
Travel plans, like your everyday plans, don’t always work out. That’s why you need to have a plan B.
Don’t let your vacation fall through just because some activities have been canceled or delayed. Come up something else to do or somewhere else to explore. Plans are great, but you need to be flexible or else you won’t have fun.
Don’t skip food or sleep
Bad feelings can quickly turn a great trip into a major regret. That’s often why 50% of people travel less than 100 miles away from home when they’re camping. You need to be proactive about taking care of your body while you travel.
“The research I published on happiness indicates that a powerful negative emotion will really mess up your day and won’t be erased by a positive emotion,” said Miron-Shatz. “So check out your trip in advance and see where such downfalls may arrive. Not enough rest or food are immediate suspects.”
Bring snacks with you that you know you won’t get sick of. Think of foods with protein and not a lot of sugar. Sugar on an empty stomach can make you queasy.
Give yourself time to rest after you’ve been traveling, too. You might want to get out there and get going right away, but things like jet lag can make you feel lousy when you least expect it.
Americans don’t use enough of their vacation days. And sometimes, when they do use them, they regret how they’ve used them. In a report by travel website Priceline, up to 19% of full-time employees said regret how they spent their PTO.
Put your health, happiness, and safety first during your vacations this year. You’ll be less likely to regret taking paid time off in 2019 and less likely to leave your PTO on the table.