Mistakes to avoid when travelling
Travelling seems easy: pack your things, get on board, start the engine and go!
We often concentrate on places to visit and on potential itineraries, but it would be better to start from the things we shouldn’t do, the mistakes to avoid when travelling. A matter of organization and skill, an “abc” that, once acquired, stays with us forever.
Proceeding by elimination is an interesting strategy: let us identify everything that is a mistake, all things potentially risky for the success of a journey. It is about isolating and evaluating small, simple organizational precautions that, once acquired, become our foundations: we can move in any direction, decide what to see, what to try, who to listen to. We know, however, that there is a base supporting everything: our ability as travellers.
Being a traveller means knowing what mistakes should not be made when travelling.
Being a camper traveller means knowing that there will be challenges, and not demanding an “easy” holiday. Camper travelling requires a good measure of creativity and adaptability.
What mistakes should we avoid in our camper travels?
BOOKING LATE OR WITH LITTLE NOTICE
If you are looking for organised and comfortable solutions, particularly if you are travelling with small children or animals, you can choose a camping site or rural hotel. Those who prefer to leave with peace of mind, knowing that there is already a place that’s waiting for them, can book their spot in advance.
The ideal booking time depends on the time of the year, normally when tourist flows increase massively (in the summer months, for example), we recommend booking at least 6-8 weeks in advance. Last minute booking is only advisable if there are special offers for camper travellers.
Aside from very short trips, it is always advisable to plan a camper journey. In addition to the many guides and maps, that allow you to know in advance the characteristics and attractions of the places you will visit, you can check the list of information websites on the destinations you chose. With the more difficult destinations it is essential to have information on: documentation, health, currency, measurement units, etc.
It is also very useful to consult the travelling logs made by other camper travellers, who highlight the logistic features directly experienced by them. At this stage, it is also a good idea to check the resting areas, planning some potential alternative site and bringing the printed out pages on board, as they will be useful once on site.
As for the actual journey, the obvious advice is to avoid, if possible, travelling on the busiest days.
NOT JUST AN ONLINE SEARCH ENGINE
Often we use the same sites or search engines in our online research, because maybe they have brought us good deals before: discounts, promotions, advantages. However, being lazy does not pay, and it is better to do different searches with engines and price comparison sites.
CHANGING MONEY AT STATIONS OR AIRPORTS
Unless you really have to, it is a mistake that should be avoided abroad, the risk being unfavourable exchange rate and commissions. Better to get down town and find out the best exchange rates, or withdraw cash with credit or cash cards, inside a bank.
SHOPPING IN THE MOST TOURISTY AREAS
Everything seems more picturesque and characteristic when is near a great attraction. Except for price and, maybe, quality. Restaurants and shops in tourist areas don’t need to attract their customers, they can count on a constant flow and therefore they are not always the best choice. Therefore, exploring what lies around the corner, better if recommended by a local, is surely a better deal for your pockets and allows for special encounters, outside the mass tourist trails.
USING CREDIT CARDS WITH COMMISSION
When distracted or in a hurry, we tend to ignore the cost of using our credit cards abroad. The surprise will await us back home, when we discover that the amount charged in commissions could have meant a few extra days of travel. Always check before hand whether transactions incur in a commission.
NOT VISITING THE LOCAL TOURIST OFFICE
Tourist offices are a trove of invaluable information on sites, events, festivals, local transports, accommodation and much more. They are found almost everywhere and very often their staff is better informed than many tourist guides. It would be a real pity not to consult them!
KEEPING MONEY AND CREDIT CARDS IN ONE PLACE
It may seem obvious, but keeping money, credit cards, local currency and documents in the same wallet, maybe in the same point on your camper is not a good security rule. If it gets lost or stolen you will lose everything. Better to spread these things as much as possible and carry as little as possible with you, perhaps in a money belt tied to your waist or calf.
HAVING NO COPIES OF DOCUMENTS AND PASSPORTS
Losing your passport, driving licence or identity card, particularly if you are abroad, can mean a long string of difficulties. Having a printed copy, even saved on the web or on a USB key, allows you to save time, money and a lot of useless stress.
HAVING NO TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance, especially for long journeys, is a good investment for you and your van. Additional peace of mind, always useful.
IGNORING THE ADVICE OF THE LOCALS
If someone from the area you are visiting advises you to avoid a certain area, it is wise to do so: nobody knows the actual situation of the place you are visiting better than the locals. Safe travelling is also about this kind of sense.
IGNORING LOCAL CULTURE
Ignoring the cultural rules and behavioural models of the country you are visiting is offensive to the hosts and indicates insensitivity on your part. Adapting, on the contrary, indicates an open mind, which is a feature of every true traveller. For example, if you are a couple, kissing in public in areas of the world where man-woman relationships do not allow for public display of affection, means you do not understand where you are. Better to research before you begin your camper journey.
LOOKING LIKE A TOURIST
Camera hanging down your neck, smartphone on your hand, tourist guide in sight: we often forget how much we look like tourists to the others. In some areas of the world, showing valuable objects, even involuntarily, can put you at risk of fraud or robbing. Even if it may be difficult not to look like a tourist, keep a neutral profile, as much as possible, in non-tourist areas.
Not showing off also means not creating an immediate distance between us and them: locals and foreigners, wealthy and not so wealthy. This is one of the essential elements of the traveller and the responsible camper traveller.