Working with travelers over the years helping set up their trips-of-a-lifetime, I’ve managed to pinpoint some of the more problematic issues they subject themselves to before they come to us. Most of the time their research is spot on and the trip looks wonderful – they have realistic goals and are honest about their expectations. Other times a little work is needed to get a solid, cost-effective itinerary, one that won’t end up driving them crazy in the long run.
In order to avoid itinerary problems before they come to the fore, here are a few of common mistakes people make during their trip planning stages and how to see yourself out of them:
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Trying to do too much
The world is a huge huge place, filled with amazing sights, colorful people and flavors that will dazzle the taste buds. And people will inevitably try to utilize their traveling moment by incorporating every place they’ve ever daydreamed about into their plan. Unfortunately, this destination crunch will end up belaboring their ability to get there. (25 cities in 30 simply days will not make an enjoyable trip.)
Unless you’re an airport enthusiast, it won’t be fun being in a different city every few days. Or even every week. If you’ve loaded your itinerary down with so many destinations you can’t remember whether you’re in Pusan or Penang, pare it down. This will stretch out your time in each place and open yourself up to the spontaneous activities that stick with you forever.
Which leads to…
This goes with the “trying to do too much” problem but arises because people have only a limited time set aside for their trip. In the real world it may be possible to travel but not always for 6 or 8 months. Hence, you blitz every landmark, pinball your way from attraction to attraction and finish up utterly spent and exhausted.
Just about every traveler you speak to will tell you their most cherished memories weren’t at the Eiffel Tower or the Imperial Palace. It was the day they were spontaneously invited into a local’s house for tea, or when they were invited on a side trip to a rare beach by some fellow travelers. And these things won’t happen unless you stroll instead of run.
Presuming too much
Round the world airfares are confusing – probably the reason you turned to a service in the first place. Without industry experience you might not know it isn’t necessary to travel through London to get to Birmingham, or that you don’t have to connect in Tokyo to get to Osaka, or that South Africa is accessible without having to go through Europe. Because the AirTreks ticket is so versatile there may be a lot more you can do with your ticket than you thought. It’s best to outline exactly what you want, as opposed to what you think you can do, and then be open to the expert’s suggestions from there.
Leaving too much to chance
Some people argue that too much planning leads you to surefire “commitment shackles” and that you’ll have a much better time if you throw caution into the wind and take each day as it comes. While we always advocate the independent spirit, some things simply aren’t wise to leave up to chance. For example, we don’t recommend buying only one or two big tickets and getting the rest as you go. Many countries have onward ticket restrictions that may force you into compromising expenditures, like having to buy a full-fare ticket to exit the country before you even enter it. Ask a travel consultant which countries have policies like this and pick up all those tickets at once. If you don’t want to travel on the day you originally reserved, change it. 90% of the time the change fee will be less than the new ticket you passed up in the beginning.
It may be liberating to travel without a plan, but it will probably end up costing you more money in the long run.
Being unrealistic about the travel ideal
If you’ve been reading some of the multitudinous travel blogs on the Web you may think their style of year-long travel is perfectly doable, only to discover after a month that you’d kill for your bed, your dog and your cable box. It’s okay, it happens. Be sure to take a hard look at your personality and base your trip on your tolerances, rather than the ideal of becoming a road-hardened travel guru. There’s much about extended travel that isn’t pretty. Make sure you’re up for it.
Conversely, you might think you’re specifically NOT built for long-term travel. However, these days much of your hometown conveniences can be had from the road. Addicted to Facebook? Bring your netbook. Love Starbucks? They’re everywhere. Miss your Mom? Talk to her daily for free.
Being too frugal
There’s something to be said about finding a cheaper ticket than everyone you talk to, but shaving off a hundred dollars only to sacrifice convenience isn’t wisdom. Don’t skimp on $100 by making the trip more complicated, travel is complicated enough as it is, you’ll wish you’d spent the money when the time comes. Look at it this way: the money will be spent either way, the hassle will last a lifetime.
AirTreks travel consultants will always try to find the cheapest ticket for you, but they will also offer options that can exponentially improve your experience, maybe for a little more money. It may be wise to spend it, just this once.