When it comes to traveling, not all methods are equal. In fact, there are some instances when traveling the “wrong” way can make or break a vacation, and when you have a limited amount of days to take your vacation, you want to make the most of your time. That’s why travel planning is the key element to any great trip!
In the decade I’ve spent traveling the world and living abroad, I’ve noticed there are certain ways in which people travel that prevents them from experiencing the real magic, culture, and charm of a destination. I find this topic fascinating. How are travelers holding themselves back from soul nourishing, incredible vacations? What are people getting wrong about traveling? With this in mind, I’ve compiled a list of what not to do on your next trip.
1. You pack your itinerary with nonstop things to see & do
To me, the perfect vacation is all about balance. I’ve seen people try to visit three major cities in under 7 days, and I don’t find that type of travel appealing at all. The conscious traveler isn’t zooming through places just to say they’ve been there, done that. Take a breath, allow yourself to arrive, my friend. It’s about quality, not quantity.
My clients enjoy a mix of doing and being on the trips that I plan for them. This doesn’t mean you have to sit in your hotel room in between museum visits. The “Being” part can look different for each person. When visiting Madrid, for example, you could spend the morning in the famous Prado museum and later have an afternoon picnic in the nearby Retiro Park to rest your legs. Doesn’t that sound lovely?
2.You go to ALL the popular tourist spots
“Aren’t there things worth seeing at tourist attractions? Shouldn’t I plan my trip around visiting these places?” you ask with a furrowed brow. I don’t recommend it! I respond with overwhelming passion in my eyes. There’s a reason why Barcelona is getting fed up with tourism. The tourist attractions are crowded, expensive, and only skim the surface of what the true cultural experience Spain has to offer. If you’re dying to see Gaudi’s work, choose one of the less visited places like Casa Batilló, which is also absolutely stunning.
On a similar note, if the restaurant menu says “Tourist” anywhere on it, you’re being overcharged and the food won’t be very good. I usually feel slightly out of place when I’m in a really good authentic Spanish restaurant. This is a good thing!
3.You don’t plan enough.
On the opposite end of over planning is not planning enough. How does this play out in the wonderful world of travel? Well, picture this…you’re in Spain and want to experience traveling with spontaneity, so you decide not to book anything in advance. Exciting, right?
When you get off the plane and walk into the train station, you realize that all the train tickets are three times the cost they’d be if you bought them a couple months ago. You reluctantly pay for the ticket, and once you’re in Sevilla, you can’t wait to get to a highly rated restaurant in the main plaza as some friends told you it’s a great place to eat, but it just so happens that there’s a festival going on throughout the city on this particular day. The restaurant is packed, and you are too hungry to wait for a table. You spend the rest of the afternoon a bit frustrated trying to find a great restaurant and finally settle on one that’s near your hotel. Not the Sevilla experience you had in mind?
Having a foundation for your trip is always a safe bet. You can plan in some free afternoons or mornings here and there to give yourself enough spaciousness for spontaneous adventures and aimless wandering, too!
4.You don’t read up on the cultures, traditions, and history of where you’re going.
The conscious traveler is someone who brings awareness, curiosity, and care around how they enter a place.
I’m all for spontaneous adventures. With research or pre-trip learning, these adventures can be heightened with context around the country’s cultures and history. For example, did you know?
- There are more than 5 languages spoken in Spain today.
- Southern Spain is largely influenced by Africa due to their people ruling the continent for more than 800 years.
- In Spain’s northeast region, Galicia, you’ll find a very Irish vibe, with bagpipes and farmers and lots of rain. Pretty much the opposite of your idea of Spain, I’d imagine!
So you can see how a little bit of research will help you to understand the culture you’ll be visiting, and how a place’s history can be rich and full of surprises!
Thanks for reading! Visit the About page if you’re interested in learning more about Lotus Compass. While you’re here, check out what it means to be a Conscious Traveler.