Traveling is a beautiful experience. But, as it happens with everything in life, it takes some time to learn the tricks of the occupational hazard. So, in this article, I want to list the 10 most common travel mistakes that backpackers make when adventuring for the first time. And I’m sure that, if you are an experienced traveler, you have already committed some of them, too. Check them out!
All the backpackers who have been traveling for a long time, have also been freshmen at a time. So you don’t have to worry if you make mistakes, it’s only normal.
It’s part of the learning process. Making mistakes will help you to learn and improve your skills and your confidence.
However, some slips are easy to avoid. Check out our list of the 10 most common travel mistakes backpackers commit and make sure you don’t err on your adventure.
This is a classic travel mistake beginners make. I’m sure you want to visit as many locations as possible in the time that your trip allows. But that’s not the smartest thing to do.
You will soon realize that, once you have begun the journey, you will not have the time to visit everything. Or, at least, not without stressing out. And, if that happens, you will have lost the sense of the journey itself.
You travel to immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy the wonders it has to offer. Not to be running from one city to another without even having time to breathe.
It is preferable to go slower and fully enjoy the location you have chosen. If your trip is short, then try to select a region or 2 and fully enjoy the experience.
This is another of the worst things you can do when backpacking. Carrying around an excess of baggage is definitely a travel mistake to avoid.
Even if you are traveling for a long period, I do not recommend carrying too much stuff.
When you are packing, it might seem that you do not have enough space for your belongings. But once you are traveling, you will realize that many of the things you carry are completely unnecessary.
So be selective and pack only useful things. You will thank yourself for doing it when you have to take buses and planes. Trust me, it’s a relief moving from one city to another not carrying your weight at your back.
Yes, I know. You might say things like “I am traveling now. I have made many sacrifices to be here and I deserve to enjoy it.” Sure, those are very valid reasons. But remember that a long backpacking trip is not a vacation.
So if you want to travel further and longer, you can’t go dancing every night, eat in the best restaurants every day, and take the most expensive tours you find.
Choose carefully what your priorities are.
Frequently, many beginner backpackers don’t realize how important is to stay within their budget. And after a couple of weeks, they almost run out of money.
Enjoy the adventure, yes. But always keep an eye on your finances. Cause, in the end, if you are good at economizing, you could extend your trip longer.
For more information, check out this post we wrote about how to create a travel budget.
We can’t say it enough: you don’t need that much stuff to travel. We are repetitive, yes. But only because it is the most frequent mistake backpackers make.
That being said, you don’t need an enormous backpack either.
I often see backpackers with a 70lt backpack on their backs and a 40lt backpack in front. They struggle so much!
When it’s a fact that, if you choose a 45lt backpack, and then grab a little one for your most important things, you will have more than enough space. You can also travel by plane without having to check extra luggage. You can use the small backpack on the day trips, and to go on tours or hiking and leave the big one safe in the hostel’s locker.
So, choosing the right backpack could save you money and be even safer. And remember, when choosing the backpack, the quality is as important as the size.
Some travelers do it to economize, and others because they don’t know better. Whatever the reason, one of the biggest travel mistakes that beginners make is drinking water from the tap on their destinations.
You might not know that, in many countries of the world, the water that comes out of the taps is not drinkable, and it’s used only for showering and washing dishes.
This water often contains chemical elements to purify it, like chlorine. And, trust me, drinking it is not good.
So, always try to buy bottled water, even when the locals say they drink from the tap. You won’t want to spend your adventure with a stomach ache and miss the wonders of the area.
Even when almost all hostels have signs asking not to throw toilet paper in the toilet, this is one of the most common travel mistakes backpackers make. So it’s also the main reason why hostel toilets get clogged!
I know, it’s an unconscious habit. Since I’m from Italy, it’s something that took time to adjust even for me. In the beginning, it wasn’t natural. But over time, you get used to it and it becomes a habit.
So make sure you try to remember that rule. You don’t want to cause inconvenience to other guests and clog the toilet.
It might sound silly, but it’s a really common problem in South American and Asian destinations. In fact, if you volunteer abroad at a hostel, you will have to deal with this problem a lot!
This is another common travel mistake: not bargaining enough.
It can be because you do not know the language, or because you are shy, or because in your culture, you are not used to it. But, when it comes to traveling for long periods and saving as much as possible, you must always try to find the bargain in everything.
In the beginning, you might not know how to, and on what occasions it should be done. But, with a little practice, you will realize that it is a very easy and common thing to do.
At some destinations, you can bargain tours, taxi trips, prices at the local market, almost everything!
Often, local sellers pump up the prices just because you are foreign. Therefore, you will be at a disadvantage, and will end up paying higher prices than locals.
So lose the shame and start bargaining.
Being flexible is one of the golden rules for traveling at cheap prices. So, consequently, not being flexible is a big travel mistake.
Often for fear or over-excitement, the first trip is organized and planned up to the last detail. We know you want to keep things under control, but if you learn to be flexible, you can find great deals and save a lot of money.
We are talking about being flexible in all matters, even when it comes to your destination, accommodation bookings, and plane and bus tickets.
Also, if you haven’t organized your entire itinerary down to the smallest detail, you can change it according to your needs and desires. It’s better traveling following your instincts than following an itinerary, right?
If you organize and pay for your entire route upfront, a simple delay on your bus or plane can push you to reorganize everything. And that can lead to a lot of stress and a waste of money.
One of the most important things when it comes to travel is to travel safely.
Often due to budgetary reasons, or often because you don’t know how to choose the right one, you don’t hire travel insurance. And that’s a big travel mistake!
It is very important to know that you count on some safety when traveling, especially if you intend to do it for long periods of time.
Travel insurance covers you in the event of an accident or unexpected situation and can help you if you are in trouble away from home. If you are looking for a good reliable company, we recommend World Nomads.
We have written an entire article about it, so feel free to check it out if you don’t know how to choose the right travel insurance for your adventure.
Choosing the wrong accommodation can ruin your whole stay at a place. Obviously, when embarking on a trip to a new place, you won’t know for sure if that particular hostel will meet your expectations.
But there are a few things you can check, to choose as best as you can.
First, you have to consider the location and the accommodation style that you have in mind. If you want to have fun and make friends, choose a party hostel. If you are a couple traveling, choose a more quiet hostel with much privacy.
Also, it’s important to read the various reviews that other guests have left. A hostel can have great photos, but the worst reviews ever. What are you going to give more importance to?
Remember to stay within your budget as well.
I hope you found this article useful, and that it helps you not to make the same mistakes that many backpackers before you have made.
Don’t worry if it seems difficult at the moment, as I said at the beginning, with a little practice, everything becomes natural.
Remember that you are traveling to have a good time and increase your knowledge, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s part of the process.
Have a great adventure!