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10 Ways Good Travelers Go Bad

Luke Armstrong | Dec 21, 2020

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Travelers are human too. We make mistakes. We mistranslate things and accidentally order the goat brain sandwich when all we want is an apple.

I once ended on a bus to Chefchaouen when all I wanted was a hotel in Tangier. I just met someone here in Guatemala who recently put his passport, banks cards, and money in the same bag and left it at table while he got up to dance the salsa (oh yeah, it was totally stolen). Stuff happens, so let's talk about it so that it doesn’t need to happen to you on your trip. Here are the top ten ways that good travelers... go bad.


1. Running Out of Money on a Trip

Unless you're traveling to Portland, you won't be able to get by with only a nice smile. People—the world, hotels, taxi drivers, food vendors, concierges and avocado salesmans—all want you to pay up. So budget your trips accordingly. How do you budget accordingly?

One great way to budget for a trip is to and get a feel for how you actually financially roll on a trip. This is easy to do. Just keep a before and after budget for all your trips. Then compare your anticipated versus actual expenses.

A great way get an idea of how expensive a particular country is to visit Expatistan.

2. Not Taking Adequate Precautions

What are adequate precautions? A great many things. Things like motorcycle helmets, sober drivers, travel health insurance, malaria pills, uncontaminated drinking water, preliminary Googling when visiting a country for the first time, and not leaving your drinks unattended. And a great many more things!

How will you keep track of them all? There are so many! Just try to be mindful. I make stupid decisions on a daily basis and though I have been to 1/4th the world, I have no sense of direction. I get hopelessly lost on a weekly basis. I book tickets from Paris to Iceland when I mean to book a ticket from Iceland to Paris. But I don't get too down on myself for my ongoing shortcomings (there's just too many too often for that). So I just try to be mindful, do the right thing, and keep a sense of humor when I boof.


3. Overpacking, (well, in some cases underpacking).

Pack light the experts say. But what about a blender! In destination bursting with fresh fruits, some things are worth it.

The experts say, take the clothes you will take on a trip, put them in a pile and then reduce it by half. But what about your favorite cardigan? Would life even be livable without your Thai fisherman pants? Could you still extract joy from the day if you didn't have your trusty flannel button up? (you know, in case of flannel emergencies).

I mean, if you are going to be trekking through the Himalayas, yeah pack light. If you are going from an airport, to a taxi, to an Airbnb, then bring whatever. If you work hard to not worry about the airport fees and you want to bring your beloved inflatable kayak (I'm thinking of you dad), then follow your heart and bring the things that will make your trip all the more awesome.

4. Limiting Their Trips to the Known

No one got anywhere new by going somewhere old. Tried and true trips are as lovely and comfortable as a longtime lover. Keep these recurring destinations in your life.

But you're allowed to have an open relationship with the world. You're allowed to have a one-week stay in Greece, love every second, and catch a crack of dawn flight out and never look back.

It's allowed. No worries mate! Book a trip to somewhere that kinda freaks you out. Get out of your comfort zone. Ride a camel. Befriend a donkey. Pet a goat. Go to Uganda! You'll never regret it!


5. Booking At The Wrong Time

Say there's an island off the coast of Lake Nicaragua where mangos grow wild and free. Say the island sprang from two volcanos. Say free mangos grow everywhere. You know what that means?! Free mangos for you!

If you love mangos as much as I do, you wouldn't imagine going to Ometepe, Nicaragua outside of mango season.

Timing—in love, travel, and life—is everything. Find out the pros and cons of going where when. How? Google knows. So Google away my friends.

6. Bringing Valuables Where They Don't Belong   

My new expat roommate Mario in Guatemala is ten years younger than I. I am witnessing him learn many lessons.

"I have way less money than I thought I did," he just said. (See bullet point one).

He also was the guy who brought his backpack to a night out and lost his debit/credit cards, passport, and money. We had a breakout workshop today on what he should do in this situation and I will cover more on this topic very soon.  

The short of it is, leave your electronics, finance tools, and identification in their safest haven and don't keep them all together. We will cover what a safe haven is next.

7. Not Protecting Valuables

What is the safest place for your valuables like passports? If there's a hotel safe, I’d say it's there. Just don't forget to get it when you check out (we're being mindful, remember?).

But shouldn't you have your passport on you at all times? Eh, some travel experts say so. I think you can get away in most countries with a photo of it on your phone. Because I know you're not leaving your phone (but I bet you're using it mindfully!).

8. Breaking The Law! Breaking the Law!

You wouldn't (or at least shouldn't) walk down 5th Ave in Manhattan drinking a beer or smoking a spliff. So don't do the blatantly illegal just because you're abroad. It's as easy (if not easier) to get arrested abroad as it is at home and it's typically a much bigger hassle.  

9. Not Booking Trip Protection Insurance

Seriously, I don't get paid more to write this. I don't always buy it, but if there is ever any uncertainty about me being able to go on the trip, I do. It's smart. It's a couple bucks to cover thousands. Make sure you look into the policy so that it covers what you think it does and what you want it to. The best way to do that is to call your travel insurance company (which I hope means you'll be calling Seven Corners).

Those Trip protection insurances policies that you can buy online when you purchase an airline ticket typically only cover that ticket and only cover you in case of illness, natural disaster, or political strife (so many don't cover you simply changing your mind or getting laid off).

Seven Corners has a CFAR policy, or Cancel For Any Reason Trip Protection Insurance. I can imagine how this phone call might go. “Hello, I have decided to cancel my trip and would like a refund. Why? Well, I've decided to use the money to build a waffle fort instead. Is that covered in my policy? It is!? Wonderful!”  With RoundTrip Elite, you get a 75% refund. There are some caveats, so be sure to read the policy. 

10. "It's a Big World Blues"

Oh no, that girl you went to high school with who you follow on Instagram, is doing it again! She's posting epic pics from some beach somewhere you've never been! Gah!—your annoying coworker Stan is posting pictures from Bali (How can Stan even afford to go? Dang it, Stan!).

We all do it. It's so easy to get lost in the longing to see the world and forget to be present in appreciation of each moment in the world. Travel is a mindset—an openness—a willingness, and you don't have to go anywhere to live from that place. Be a bold intrepid traveler, not a jellyfish.

About the Author

luke armstrong

Luke Maguire Armstrong is the author of "The Nomad's Nomad." He has spent the last decade traveling, writing and designing, and funding philanthropic programs around the world.

Read more of Luke’s blogs Visit Luke's website travelwritesing.com

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