- Putting off packing until the night before.
I used to be a reasonable person who started putting together my suit case two weeks in advance for a trip. I would have a nice little check list that I’d go over multiple times and I’d research the climate, weather patterns, and excursions I’d be taking to ensure that I was perfectly prepared. Now, that’s all gone out the window and I tend to pack the night or two before. This is a ridiculously bad habit that can have you kicking yourself all the way to Hong Kong because you forgot the adaptor you desperately needed so you wouldn’t get price gouged once you landed. Two weeks, of course, is a little overkill. Four is probably the sweet spot.
If you have a thoughtful list (and there are plenty of great premade ones for almost all travel destinations) you can definitely get away with one or two nights before your flights, so long as you’re not missing any hard to find, necessary items.
- Packing only the bare minimum.
This has become a weird competition I play with past-Daphne. Once upon a time, past-Daphne was the textbook definition of an overpacker. Gone for half a month? Better pack a month’s worth of socks and your entire medicine cabinet! After all, you never know!
Overpacking is a pretty terrible habit, too. Especially if you’re going solo or you intend to primarily use public transportation. But at this point I’ve really begun to go too far, foregoing all types of things in favor of moving around lighter.
- Not taking advantage of the free tours
It’s insane how many people who’ve traveled all over 1) don’t know about these free trips or 2) don’t utilize them. If you happen to be in an airport and have a mid- to long layover, you should know that many countries have tourism departments that offer day trips. Some are a little basic like a day trip to the city to see the major sights. You see these everywhere, from Malaysia to Hong Kong. Some are a little more varied, like the day trip Taipei offers to a pottery village on the outskirts of the city. Either way its free, easy, and a great way to spend a layover.
- Cutting it close with airport times
After half a dozen international trips, you’ve got the time it takes to get to your airport, through security, and to your gate down to a basic formula… so you start getting lazy with when you arrive. There are a few times when I’ve had to run to a plane to make it before the door closed. There’s no reason to give yourself unnecessary stress right before a big trip. Don’t get lazy or overconfident with your times and always show up ea
- Refusing to spend a little more
Traveling can be exhausting, especially if you’re going solo to a new country. When I much newer to this whole travel business I would laboriously jump through every hoop if it meant I could save myself $10 here or there… even if that $10 cost me five hours of my life, wandering lost around a city and getting blisters on every square inch of my feet.
I’ve definitely been scammed, put my safety at risk, and wasted so much time trying to save money… It’s hard to say whether or not this is a bad habit. It can definitely become a bad habit, especially with transportation (renting cars / drivers can get pricey fast, as I mentioned in my Morocco guide). But if you value your time and energy, sometimes the costs are just worth it.
I’ll still happily spend the night in an airport if it means saving myself a few hundred, though.
- Getting snippy with customs
This is a bad idea. It’s a much, much better idea to keep your mouth shut and your head down. But there is no denying the stark contrast between US customs and airport personnel anywhere else in the world. I’ve seen visitors berated and humiliated by customs, even when the visitor is a woman close to my grandmother’s age, who can barely string together a sentence in English.
I admit that I’ve had my moments where I’ve had to snap back at ill-mannered, aggressive customs personnel… but frankly we’re all better served just reporting the terrible behavior and hoping that it’ll become too hard to ignore that their behavior is in no way tolerable. Especially since these people are essentially greeting people who are coming to the US!
- Constantly Comparing
This is the absolute worst. Sometimes countries and cities all begin to blur together. You can be on a beautiful beach, with immaculate white sand and crystal clear water and instead of appreciating the splendor before you end up absently comparing it to the beaches in Thailand or the Philippines, ranking it instead of enjoying it for what it is.
- Getting Cynical
So, what frequent international traveler hasn’t been scammed or swindled? If you think you haven’t, chances are you probably have and just didn’t know it. It’s so easy to get frustrated and cynical with a country or all countries. After all, no one likes it when someone is constantly trying to pull one over on them (I’m looking at you, taxis in Beijing…).
- Mother Hen’ing your travel companions
On a lighter note, this is a cute habit that I notice many people pick up when they’re traveling with friends who either don’t travel much or just haven’t been in that particular country before. Chronic Traveler Friend will suddenly become group hostess, spouting off tidbits, giving recommendations for restaurants, and even haggling on your behalf for random tidbits at the open market. It can be a little overbearing, but generally I find it kind of cute.
- Getting Kind of Gross
Maybe it’s just my luck, but I’ve noticed quite a few frequent travelers not only start packing less clothes but also stop washing themselves and what clothes they happen to have. Don’t get me wrong, if I’m on a long trip and there’s no laundry in sight, an outfit might pull double duty. But if you’re in a South American or tropical country, frequent showers and clean clothes are a must! Even if it’s hugely inconvenient, it’s time to take the cheap hostel or hotel soap and put it to your clothes in the bathroom sink.