Last updated on August 4th, 2019
Every vacation is an adventure. Some amazing things happen along the way but sometimes things don’t go as planned. I’ve seen a lot along the way. I’ve also made a lot of the common mistakes you make on vacation. The key to any successful trip to be adaptable. Here are a few other tips to make sure your trip is a success.
The Biggest Mistakes You Make on Vacation
Only Reading Guidebooks
Sometimes you can be over prepared. When planning a vacation, the boy scouts motto doesn’t apply. When I go places I haven’t been, I don’t want to look like a tourist. So I prepare too much. When my Mom suggested that we do a Girls Weekend to New Orleans last fall, I fell into this trap. I read all the guide books and blogs on what to do. I wanted to see it all. Everything I read said to stay in the French Quarter. The neighborhoods outside of the French Quarter can be sketchy. As I was going over the plan with my sister on the airplane, and the passenger next to me made a recommendation. She said if you love the music, go to Frenchmen’s Street. It’s walking distance from the French Quarter.
The guide books had me too terrified that I was afraid to leave the safety of French Quarter. We got bored of the Quarter and so we tried Frenchman’s Street. We had more fun there, met with locals and heard some great music. We were so happy that we chose to venture out of our safe zone. The scariest part about it was a few weeks after being home, we heard there was a shooting in the French Quarter. I guess it wasn’t that safe after all. The lesson, don’t always trust what you read. Listen to advance you get from the locals. They know where all the cool spots are.
There is so much useful information online, including customer reviews and insider tips. The problem with it is sometimes its wrong. I do my best to find reputable sources but that doesn’t always work out. Facebook and Social Media is the worst for this. While companies remember to update their website with new hours, they neglect the other places.
I ran into this problem the other weekend. I had gotten my Mom a MN Wine Passports, and we wanted to christen it. There are 11 different wineries close to the Twin Cities, so we picked the first one. They didn’t have a website, so I went to their Facebook profile. It said they were open and off we went. After a 45 min drive, we found out they were closed. We were now in the middle of nowhere with no direction to go. I looked through the passport and located the next closest winery, Sovereign Estates. This time, we called them first. Once getting there we had an amazing time. It has become my new go to winery because of the great service and staff there.
The lesson, call ahead. In our case, it was the off season. I should have known better. I was so excited that I had a sitter for a few hours; I forgot one of the basic rules.
Letting Mishaps Get You Down
Sometimes things go bad. Terrible actually. You can spend all the time in the world planning out the perfect trip, but it will never go that way. Something always happens and you have to roll with it. Even when things go ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation’ bad.
My family and I took a trip out to Washington state one summer. Everything that could go wrong seemed to go wrong. After the second day, it was getting so bad I started a list of everything that went wrong. Here is a summary, taken from my Travel Journal, July 2003:
- Blew out a Camper Tire
- Hole in Camper Floor
- Replaced a Car Tire
- Fixed roof on Camper so it didn’t blow off
- Dead guy found in the bathroom at the campground we were staying at
- Car Door Broke
- Crack in Dad’s tooth
- No place to camp in Oregon, after 3hrs of driving we finally found a hotel
- Blew out another Camper Tire
- Hole in camper floor again
- Can’t buy a new tire yet because it’s Sunday and the stores are closed
- Burned feet trying to climb independence rock without shoes. Made walking very challenging.
It was when we were on our second tire when we all found the humor in everything. It was an amazing vacation. We saw so much. If we would have let everything affect our spirits, we would have been miserable. But you can’t. At some point, it becomes entertaining. So when things go bad, think of how funny the story will be later on in life.
Getting Stuck in a Tourist Trap
Not every vacation is what you intended it to be. Some of the major tourist destinations are on a lot of peoples bucket lists. There is so much hype and excitement, it’s often hard to meet those expectations. When you get there, you find that it’s one big man made destination designed to draw out every dollar out of you.
I had two bucket list trips the past year that transpired to be major disappointments. New Orleans and Las Vegas. They are both party destinations that everyone must see at least once in their life. The problem is, I’m not that much of a partier. I found that these destinations were merely a series of bars that you could visit anywhere. The culture there was nothing but a bunch of partiers from all over the country. It’s fun for about 1 day, but you can get that anywhere. I want to see something. I flew halfway across the country; I want to see the country! When it wasn’t what we wanted, we left. We kept our hotel, but we took a drive outside of the city. As soon as we did that, we got to see what the state was like. We saw a Bayou. I got to walk on some historic plantations. We saw the desert and the Grand Canyon. It was some of the most amazing experiences of my life.
If you find that destination you dreamed about doesn’t meet your expectations, leave. Do something else. It’s your vacation and money, spend it doing what you want. If people came to Minnesota and only saw the Mall of America, it would be sad. You can shop about anywhere. As a Minnesotan, there is so much natural beauty in the city. Explore it all!
We’ve all made some of these mistakes you make on vacation before. As long as you can correct them quickly, your vacation will be amazing. There is so much to see and do in this world. Setbacks are all a part of life. If you can embrace them, you’ll go so much farther. What are some of your worst travel horror stories?