If you’re the type of traveller that calls your bank before you travel, converts plenty of cash pre-departure and religiously removes your liquids at airport security, then I’m very sorry.
… A lot of the travel wisdom that made you a seasoned expert once upon a time may no longer apply.
For better or for worse, it’s true – the travel industry has changed a lot in the past few years, and if you don’t want to be left behind, then this post is for you.
From outdated travel myths to once helpful services that have gone downhill, this post will reveal the top travel mistakes that expert travellers (like you!) won’t be making this year… along with some personal travel pet peeves I hope for us to leave behind.
Save this List of Outdated Travel Tips & Mistakes for Later!
You’ll be very glad you did.
1. Just showing up at airport security and going into autopilot
Alright, let’s start with an important one – how to handle airport security.
Lately, I’ve noticed some changes to airport security protocol that might catch infrequent travellers off guard.
For starters, a lot of airports will now let you pre-book a security time slot in advance to avoid long lines. This is definitely something to take advantage of if your airport offers it, so be sure to look into that in advance.
And also, many airports now have fancy scanners that can scan everything in your bag at once, including liquids and laptops, meaning you no longer need to remove them (as we’ve been conditioned to do over the past 15 years!)
This of course depends on the airport, and sometimes even the specific terminal or even machine at the airport, so make sure you keep an ear out and actually pay attention to instructions rather than slip into autopilot and do what you’ve always done.
2. Staying at Airbnbs
Item number two and we’re already getting heated. Let’s do it. I’m going to be honest and say that as the years go on, Airbnb is becoming less and less attractive as an option for short term stays.
Granted, there can be a time and place for Airbnb – namely for discounted long term stays or larger groups, but honestly, for short term stays, it’s rarely worth it nowadays given their outrageous fees, extra fuss at check-in, and the miles-long chore lists that some hosts leave you with.
(It’s also worth thinking about the longer term impact that short term rentals have on local communities, and the fact that short term rental laws are getting way stricter in some places too).
Most of the time you’re better off booking a hotel. You can see my step by step process for securing the best hotel deals here.
BONUS TIP: If you do stay in an Airbnb, don’t forget to take photos and videos of the condition upon check in and check out, because some people, myself included, have had hosts who have lied in order to claim compensation for damage. Luckily, I won my case, but that’s only because I had photo evidence. So be sure to take those clips!
3. Waiting for certain days to book flights
Once upon a time, someone told the world that Tuesdays are the cheapest days to book flights… and many people continue to swear by that to this day.
But it’s 2024 and pricing systems are a lot more sophisticated than before, so prices are dynamic now and there’s no such thing as one definite day that all flights are cheaper… so be sure to shop around. Turn on price alerts. Shop sales when they pop up. Don’t just wait for Tuesdays!
My guide on how to find cheap flights every time can help you with finding the best deal no matter what.
4. Booking travel without any rewards
Alright, onto the next mistake to avoid this year… booking travel without getting any rewards for it!
Let’s face it, travel is expensive, but if you’re booking the trip and paying for those flights and hotels anyway, you might as well earn some points.
Travel hacking isn’t my expertise and the options vary from country to country, but please, this year, do not book any trips without first looking into credit cards that help you maximize your rewards, because you could be leaving thousands of dollars worth of travel on the table.
Another thing we are no longer doing is…
5. Calling your bank/credit card company before travelling
It’s a nice idea (and sound advice once upon a time), but these days, calling your bank and credit card company is just no longer necessary.
In fact, the last time I tried to do this, they literally told me that I didn’t have to anymore because their fraud detection systems have just gotten sophisticated enough to know when we’re travelling… so yes, save yourself the work. And embarassment.
Lastly on the cash and card front, another mistake to leave behind is…
6. Converting a lot of cash in advance of your trip
Ah, who remembers going to a currency exchange before your trip to convert a heist-like sack of cash?
Sadly, the days of this practice are numbered.
This of course depends on your destination, but many countries are now pivoting towards card-only payments, so cash isn’t as king as it once was.
Plus there’s just better alternatives now to going to a currency exchange before or during your trip, so be sure to look into getting travel friendly cards instead like a Wise or Revolut card that will allow you to withdraw cash from foreign ATMs for free and with better rates as needed.
They make life so much easier and can save you a lot of money!
7. Avoiding tours
I don’t know who decided that taking tours means you’re not a real traveller, but honestly, tours can be such a lifesaver when you travel and I’m tired of them having a bad reputation.
While once upon a time, tours were ‘one size fits all’, generic experiences where you rolled the dice with quality, that is no longer the case these days.
Honestly, hop on any tour aggregator (GetYourGuide is my go-to) and you’ll see that there are specialty tours for every niche and interest you can think of. And these can be a great way to explore a place.
Plus, with online review systems, it’s easier than ever to sift the good from the bad.
I like to think of tours as a shortcut to enjoyment. If you don’t have time to do all the research and organization yourself, then there’s nothing wrong with booking a tour. It’s also the surest way to get local insights, and it helps support the local economy as well, so a win overall.
8. Being snobby about “living like a local”
Another thing we’re leaving behind?
Making the whole “living like a local” movement the be all, end all of travel.
Listen, do you know what locals are doing? They’re at work. They’re doing their jobs. They’re not frolicking and sightseeing.
Obviously there’s perks to getting local insight – they usually know the best places to eat for instance, but my point is in 2024, we are not embarrassed to do touristy things or to be a cheesy tourist if that’s what brings us joy. After all, most famous spots are that way for a reason.
9. Taking photos of just landscapes
Wait – what’s wrong with landscape photos?
Nothing, really… but what I’m cautioning against is only taking photos of landscapes, buildings, food, etc. while forgetting to get your cute little face in there from time to time.
I get it though. For years, there has been shame and embarrassment about selfies, or a fear of seeming vain for getting photos of yourself in places… but trust me, years down the line, what you’ll want are photos of yourself having the time of your life… not that photo of the Eiffel Tower that looks exactly like the other 10 million photos of the Eiffel Tower online.
Plus everyone takes photos of themselves now. In fact, people have moved onto taking videos of themselves so 2024 is not the year to be embarrassed.
10. Using expensive roaming packages or relying only on physical SIM cards
In 2024, having access to internet abroad is crucial, so it’s not really a matter of if you’re going to pay for data access, it’s more HOW you’re gonna do it.
And for a long time, the most budget-friendly way was buying a local SIM card for your destination.
In some cases, this can still be good advice (depending on your destination and the length of your trip), but you should know that these days, there’s an even more convenient solution: eSIMs or embedded SIMs.
These SIMs are 100% digital, meaning you can easily buy them in advance and activate them on your phone so you can get data immediately without needing to worry about those physical cards.
Airalo is one I’ve had great experiences with, and you can save money off your first plan here by using the code CHRIST99027.
11. Expecting there to be no other tourists in offseason
This mistake makes me sad, but it has to be said: please do not book a trip anywhere during shoulder/off-season expecting to dodge crowds completely.
The secret’s out. People in 2024 know about off season. Once upon a time, you could go to some places in the off season and feel like you were the only tourist. That is far less common now, especially in big cities.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, so long as you have your expectations in check… just be mindful that popular places will still have other tourists even if you go at random times or wake up at sunrise.
12. Not learning anything about your destination’s culture before you go
Okay, I know that once upon a time, people thought the best way to travel was to simply go to a place with an open mind and reckless abandon. After all, there’s a lot of joy to discovering a culture once you get there.
But listen, in 2024, there are SO many resources available that expectations have changed a bit. Clueless tourists are no longer cute, and ‘silly mistakes’ are less likely to be dismissed. In many countries now, there’s an expectation that tourists will at least know the basics upon arrival.
So, before you arrive, you really should know what tipping is like, or what cultural norms are, and what behaviours might potentially be rude or even illegal in your destination.
I always say at minimum, learn some basics in the local language just to be polite and to also have more confidence when you arrive in a new place.
13. Insisting you’re a “traveller” and not a tourist
Finally – I’d like for all of us to leave the whole ‘traveller vs tourist’ debate behind.
Because let’s face it, we’re all tourists. We’re all travellers. And I want 2024 to be the year that we stop travel shaming.
The point of travel is to have fun, and apart from exploitative practices, there’s really no shame in enjoying things on your travels that are seen as touristy or silly.
Remember, it’s your trip and life is frankly too short for you to avoid certain activities you want to do just because you don’t want to be seen as a dumb tourist. Likewise, life is too short for you to force yourself to do things just because people say it’s a must-do… so yes, let people have their fun and be sure to have yours too.
The whole traveller vs. tourist thing is so outdated, and it has to go.
Did I Miss Any Other Travel Mistakes?
Let me know in the comments what outdated travel myths and mistakes you’d add to the list.