I am guilty of making some traveling mistakes. I have paid retail, waited too long to get my passport and even forgot my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal at our hotel. Luckily, I have learned from my mistakes and we were able to rescue “Puppy” from the hotel lost and found.
MISTAKE: Over Achiever – The biggest mistake I seem to come across in every adventure is trying to cram too much into one trip. A vacation or getaway is meant to be fun and relaxing, but sometimes I feel like it is a marathon that is even crazier than my usual routine! I underestimated my kids appreciation for relaxation. On our last trip to Florida, I had something planned every day. Sure, they weren’t complaining about being bored, but they were begging for a break. Noting their exhaustion, we skipped one of our events that had a friendly cancellation policy. They played in the pool, watched a bit of tv, busted out some of the travel board games and were far more enjoyable at dinner than they had been the entire trip.
MISTAKE: Over Planning – It’s no secret I am detail oriented and love organization. This trait can be great, but it can also be a real downer on vacation. As I mentioned above, I had crammed a lot of sightseeing and events into the trip. It’s hard to enjoy anything when you are checking your watch, trying to maintain a pace and worrying about a schedule. This can be hard on your friends and family who prefer to go where the wind blows. Instead of having an itinerary, have a back up plan. Keep ideas jotted down or in the back of your mind, but let your sense of adventure guide you instead.
MISTAKE: Unwilling to Split – Just because you are a family, doesn’t mean you have to spend every moment together. Be willing to let go. My daughters and I wanted to check out the outlet malls, while my husband and son wanted to visit a reptile house. In a moment of insanity, I insisted we stay together because it was a family vacation. Lets just say no one was able to do what the wanted and it was a huge damper! Lesson learned!
MISTAKE: Falling for Freebies – The lure of free Disney World tickets will dance in your head, but don’t fall victim to timeshare pitches. Sure, that promise of a gift card or free massage sounds worth “just 60 minutes of your time,” but it rarely ends up being just an hour. Most pitches are a hard sell and will continuously call you through your vacation even if you say no repeatedly. I fell for it once and found the gift card was for a catalog filled with junk. Another friend discovered the massage was only good for one establishment in the area and it was booked solid for the entire length of her vacation. It’s often not worth your time, so don’t be baited.
MISTAKE: Flying Cheaper to an Outside City – Flying into a nearby city or out-of-the-way airport seems like a great way to save money. If you don’t factor in your expense to travel from the outside city to your destination, it seems smart. However, when you add the cost of a $40 taxi ride to your hotel and back again, that is an extra $80 you could have spent on a ticket. Smaller airports also tend to have inflated luggage fees. Make sure you are taking everything into consideration when you try to skimp to save some cash.
MISTAKE: Taking Hotel Promo Pics as Fact – This is one of those moments when you want to ensure you aren’t judging a book by its cover. There are many tricks you can play with a camera and don’t forget about airbrushing and photo manipulation. That hotel with giant pool and clear beaches can actually be a trick of the eye. Check out sites with legit and current photos from fellow patrons like Oyster.com or TripAdvisor.com to get the real deal. (See image above for reference.)
MISTAKE: Tourist Trap – Sometimes it is hard to avoid these! Between guide books and hotel staff “opinions” swearing something is worth the trip and money, it is easy to get ensnared. Parker Stanberry, founder and CEO of OasisCollections.com, has this tip: “With some exceptions, hotel restaurants and bars fall into the category of tourist traps, as well as those suggestions that you see in every generic guidebook. Also, spots right next to major tourist attractions—the main plaza, the top shopping street, major museums—tend to fall into the ‘overpriced and not very local’ category.” Instead, use social media and The Travel Moms to find great venues and locations.