Top 5 Mistakes When Planning a Vacation (And How to Avoid Making Them)

Updated: Mar 3

So you’ll finally have some time off from work or school and you’re out to make the most of it—congratulations, you’re going on an adventure! If you’ve already cozied up in a coffee shop to start planning a vacation and travel itinerary, you’ve probably already been through the stages of wanderlust and heavenly Instagram photos and have now arrived at this stage: Overwhelmed.

Having planned countless international trips for both clients and myself, I know the feeling. If what you’re looking for on your trip is an authentic and meaningful cultural experience, then you’ll want to avoid the big mistakes that land so many other tourists with a frustrating, exhausting vacation.

The Top 5 Mistakes You’re Making When Planning a Vacation

1. You rely solely on ratings and reviews sites like TripAdvisor. 2. You try to see too much in too little time. 3. You assume you can’t afford the vacation you want. 4. You assume guided group tours aren’t for you. 5. You don’t get in touch with a local.

Read on for my insider bonus tip for combatting each of these travel planning mistakes!


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Rating-sites-like-yelp

1. You rely solely on ratings and reviews sites like TripAdvisor. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been known to cruise over to Tripadvisor to see what I absolutely can’t miss at my destination. But if I only relied on these sites to know what to see and do when I’m planning my travel itinerary, I would miss out on all the things that would make the trip special and unique.

Instead, I suggest finding travel blogs specifically about your destination, asking friends for recommendations, leaving time for wandering around, and picking a neighborhood to explore with no plan (rather than just making a beeline to the main tourist attractions).

Pro Tip: My favorite site for finding quirky, off-the-beaten-path places to visit and explore is Atlas Obscura. They focus specifically on hidden spots around the world, deep cultural traditions, wonders of nature, and more. This is a great resource to boost your travel itinerary with places to visit that you might never have even heard of!


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Tired-Tourist

2. You try to see too much in too little time. I get it: you don’t know the next time you’ll be back in that part of the world, so of course you want to see as much of it as you possibly can. The FOMO is real! But try to imagine the pace you’re setting for your vacation and how you’ll feel at the end of those jam-packed days.

Would you rather be rushed and exhausted, jostling with other tourists all day at a bunch of monuments? Or would you rather take a few items off your travel itinerary so you have more time to just wander around, soak in the local culture in a memorable and meaningful way, and really experience the essence of your destination?

Pro Tip: It’s so easy to get caught up in what we “should” see when planning a vacation. Take a deep bre