One of the biggest mistakes travelers make and how to fix it.

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Now imagine that you’ve booked your trip. You have your activities booked and you’re so excited about this amazing vacation that you’ve planned. However, you forgot to think about how you’re going to get to that zip line adventure 20 minutes from where you’re staying. What happens? Well, more than likely you’ll be scrambling to find transportation and may end up overpaying. Additional costs and stress can turn a fun vacation into a nightmare.

So where do you start? The internet. What do you do? Research! The first thing you should do is look up where you are staying and see what is available to do and if the place you’re staying can either recommend or provides some form of transportation. Are the activities you’re doing within walking or biking distance? Is public transportation available?

If there is anything I can urge you all to look up first is transportation! How do you get from point “A” to point “B”? It’s also the thing that most people forget to consider. They think if the flight is taken care of then they’re set and they tend to forget about how they’re going to get around their destination. It may seem like an extra step but once this is sorted the whole trip will fall into place because it will show you what else is possible.

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I actually fell victim to this very thing a couple of months ago when I was in Copenhagen. Even being a seasoned traveler, sometimes we forget to do the little things. I booked a flight to the nearest airport and then I just figured there would be some form of public transportation that could get me within walking distance to where I was staying. For a brief moment, I freaked. I had no idea where I was going, which way the train was running and even if it was the right address I was going to. I lucked out, amidst all of the Danish speakers I found an airport personnel who directed me to the correct train and the correct destination. I also lucked out because in watching my fellow travelers I noticed an American directing her friends to get a 24-hour travel card that allowed them unlimited travel during that time. If I hadn’t been vigilant I may have overpaid and been completely lost.

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I can give you another example. My best friend and I were in Austin, TX. We met there for a long weekend. I knew one of the places I wanted to hit was the Barton Springs Pool. I wasn’t sure how far it was from our hotel and downtown. We realized that it was not within walking distance but could be biked and there were bikes which were available for rent. However, it would cost more to rent a bike than it would to hire a car. Now if we had looked it up ahead of time we might have been able to find a more economical alternative.

On the other hand, say you want to take a trip to the Cotswolds. Beautiful country, no doubt, however, you will need a car to get around, but what if you didn’t? Checking the area’s transportation options will show you that there are buses and trains that go to the major towns in that area. You could also rent a bike and explore the area that way. There are alternatives if you’re willing to look for them and researching transportation options ahead of time will give you tremendous peace of mind.

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In Mexico, it is encouraged for travelers not to rent their own vehicles. They’re an easy mark for corrupt officials to take advantage of. I’ve heard too many stories of friends getting pulled over by officers and asked for payment in order to let them go. Although the highways look well maintained and signage is pretty clear you have to ask yourself if it’s worth time out of your vacation to risk getting stopped by the police. Instead many resorts and hotels provide transportation to many of the activities available off site.

Some of you may be like me. You travel by the seat of your pants and whim dictates what you do on any given day. That’s great but even then a little bit of research can make all the difference. Have an understanding of the infrastructure of where you’re visiting can help you to decide which activities are going to mesh well with your trip and which ones won’t.

Several trips to Italy have ended up with me trying to find alternate transportation because of national strikes, effectively shutting down public transportation within the whole country. After the first time this happened to me I now make sure to have contingency plans in place whenever I’m in Italy. I will make sure I know which car rental companies have the best deals and may even book a reservation knowing I can easily cancel it the day before. I will look to see if I can fly to another country or city. I will also allow myself a few additional days wherever I am if they are needed, to explore. Sometimes allowing a couple of additional days in your time and cost budget can also make the difference.

Travel is amazing but it is also challenging. Allow yourself to be at ease with whatever happens. You cannot make the trains move any more than you can control the weather. The one thing that you can control is your attitude and being prepared and knowing your options can help manage your expectations and turn what could’ve been a nightmare into an enjoyable stay. Until next time.

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