How to avoid making mistakes while traveling

  • I couldn’t wait to do and see it all on a recent business trip to Miami.
  • I quickly realized that traveling is a skill that can be mastered with practice.
  • Being prepared, being flexible, and being able to quickly learn from my mistakes has helped me be a better traveler.

I have always been laid back and am in the know when it comes to travel.

In the past, my packaging habits weren’t the best. I also rarely planned ahead and often forgot to pack.

But my first business trip as a reporter to Miami, Florida was different: I had places to see, things to do, and only a week to do it all.

My journey began with a 30 hour train ride to Miami. It was then that I started my work trip. I returned home on a 30 hour train journey.

Two hours after starting my trip to Miami, I was feeling anxious, nauseous, and overwhelmed by the new experiences I was about to have. I wrote this to myself:

“Traveling is difficult because it’s a skill I haven’t practiced yet. You have to not know exactly what’s going to happen and be okay with it. To improve it, I need to find a sense of belonging in me. “

From that point on, I continued to improve my traveling skills. It meant planning, adapting, learning from my mistakes and preparing for the future.

Plan and make backup plans

Author's planning notes are visible against a faded yellow background

These are the author’s itineraries taken from his trip to Miami.

Joey Hadden / Insider

One night, while in Miami, I spent an hour preparing for the next day.

I got my clothes and gear ready, mapped out where I needed to go, and then wrote down possible routes. There was a lot of room for error.

I felt better prepared for the day because it took away my worries about timing and transportation.

Despite numerous backup plans, things did not always go as planned. These situations were for me the opportunity to practice adaptation.

Keep your eyes on the present

Some of my mistakes could have ruined my plans. For example, I missed a bus and got lost in the Miami transit system.

These mistakes were expensive and I was worried about how I would get there.

I was aware that I needed to be calm. To do this effectively, it was important to practice mindfulness and stay present in the moment.

I stopped doing what I was doing and watched what was going on. I reminded myself that everything was fine and I could fix the problem.

It can be difficult to keep a clear mind in stressful situations. But, it gets easier the more you do it.

It was a great way to feel more confident in my travels and it helped me to have a greater sense of ease throughout the trip.

Be sure to document your mistakes so you don’t repeat them.

Left: the floor of the Amtrack shower is green with brown markings Right: a pair of gray flip flops

A public shower on the author’s train home, and a pair of flip flops she wished she had brought.

Joey Hadden / Insider

I kept track of every mistake I made that made my trip more difficult so I could better plan my next trip.

I spent a day in Miami taking photos. However, I also had to check one Airbnb in the morning before moving to another.

It was painful to lug all my things from one place to another while I took pictures and took notes.

I took note of it mentally. Next time, I’ll either lock my bags in a storage area, pack lighter bags, and plan trips on the days I’m not changing accommodations.

When I got home from work, I realized I forgot to bring my flip flops. I love to use them when I shower in public areas. So I decided not to take a shower. While that wasn’t a big deal, I would have preferred the added convenience of taking a shower during a 30 hour train trip. I wrote down what to pack.

flip flops

for my next trip.

My point is that if I continue to practice planning, adapting and writing down my mistakes, I will become an expert traveler who can easily get lost where she has never been before.

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