Five ways to ruin your holiday

Your bucket-list trip has been a long time coming. So, to ensure that it is all you hoped for and more, don’t make these five easily avoidable travel mistakes – they could ruin your dream holiday.

Don’t visit at the wrong time

The easiest way to ruin your dream holiday is to go at the wrong time. Peak season may be promoted as the best time of year to visit a country, but the popularity of the season means larger crowds, higher prices and potentially, less affable vendors.

Often, the best time to visit your destination is during ‘shoulder season’ – that ideal time between high-priced peak season and lousy weather low season. Spring and autumn are typically the best times to head overseas. You’ll experience pleasant weather, more colour, more ‘amenable’ hosts, fewer crowds, shorter queues and lower prices. There are some countries when spring may mean monsoons or mosquitoes and autumn may mean high allergy season, so be sure to check out the weather before you book.

Don’t rely on the ‘hits’ for a winning holiday

You may envision seeing the Mona Lisa, the pyramids or the Sistine Chapel, but the reality of witnessing these ‘greatest hits’ may not be as fulfilling as the dream. So, to avoid disappointment, expand your horizons and find other reasons for visiting these destinations. If you’re heading to Italy, it may be as simple as finding the world’s best pizza, or for Paris, the most delightful café. The world’s most famous landmarks are often quite overrated, so don’t rely on them to bring you true holiday bliss. It’ll end up being the people who you meet and the food that you eat that provides you with the most pleasant memories.

Don’t deny the emotional effect of your journey

Visiting historic sites can often come with emotional baggage. You may have had family in the concentration camps; you may feel the full, ghostly effect of the Twin Towers having been bombed; or you may be awestruck by the sheer scale and grandeur of the Grand Canyon. Give yourself time to soak in the emotions that you feel – don’t write them off. To truly enjoy your experience and come out of it a ‘transformed’ traveller, you need to acknowledge the emotional effect of visiting such sites.

Make sure you choose the right travel buddy

You may have the dream of staying with Buddhist monks in Tibet or spending a small fortune in Las Vegas casinos, but your vision of the perfect holiday means nought if it’s not shared by your travel buddy. Maybe your bucket-list trip would be better done solo, or maybe with a friend instead of your partner.

Sharing these experiences requires commitment, compromise and compatibility, so choose your travel buddy wisely. Talk about your wishes prior to booking anything and make sure that you’re open about your expectations. Maybe take a short trip to see if you’re a good pair. If this is your once-in-a-lifetime trip, ensure that you get to do it on your terms and let nothing spoil it for you.

Guidebooks are a good start, but don’t rely on them too much

Guidebooks are a great place to get the lay of the land, but only through talking to the locals or hiring a local guide will you enjoy the authentic experience of your chosen destination. Usually the most obvious places and tourist spots are listed in guidebooks, as well as venues that pay for a listing. Being in a guidebook does not ensure a primo experience, so take advantage of the locals for guidance. You won’t be disappointed.

Oh, one more tip: Always check Smartraveller before you go (and while you’re there) for the most up-to-date travel tips and advice.

Have you ever made any of these mistakes? Which mistakes have you made to ruin your holiday? Do you want to add any to the list?

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