Biggest Mistakes: travel edition

Biggest Mistakes: travel edition

Now that I’ve been on two solo trips in a year, I like to think that I’m a great traveler. Of course, if you know me, you know that I actually have no experience traveling, except tagging along on my best friends beach trips (Thanks, Grace!), and a few 48 hour trips to Boston and New York. 

However, in my dreams I am a professional traveler and I know everything. Planning for my big girl trip to California has inspired me to write about my lessons learned from traveling. I spend weeks budgeting for my trips, saving up, allocating money, watching flights, etc to save the most, but I know I can always be saving a little more. So here are my top few things to think about next time you plan a trip somewhere!

Sign up for rewards for whatever airlines you’re using!! 

In the last year I have booked two round-trip flights with Spirit Airlines. Am I a rewards member? No. Do I have any points saved up? Nope. My first trip to Boston I decided I wouldn’t sign up because “oh, I’m probably not going to do this as often as I want to.” Yeah, sure, whatever. Second time around, a $320 trip booked to California and I skipped right over the “sign up for rewards here!!” button. I did it without thinking. And then, of course, as soon as I booked my flight I thought, how many points would I have gotten for this?

There is no harm in signing up for rewards points. No matter how much or little you fly, you can earn points and they will be there. 

Plan everything

My first trip to New York was with my friend Caitlin on my 20th birthday. We had about 7 hours in the city before our school bus took us back home and I had a list of where I wanted to go (90% of which was bakeries). It was not until the night before our trip that my mom called and asked what we were doing and pointed out that these places were not near one another and we didn’t have time to do it all. So, in the 24 hours before we got to new york I quickly made a list and mapped out where I wanted to go and we picked out the area with the most stuff on my list. Thankfully, Caitlin has been to New York before and was fine doing whatever I wanted. I couldn’t even tell you where we went. There was a super cool thrift shop and a gluten-free bakery that I spent $43 at. We happened upon the flatiron building, which I did not know existed, and accidentally walked all the way to Chelsea Market, which we were going to take the subway to. 

I take great pride in my food tours of different cities, so it was a little upsetting when I went to LA and forgot to make a solid plan of where I wanted to go. I mean, think of all of the missed opportunities!! It wouldn’t have taken me long to make a list, and I probably would’ve saved a good chunk of time if I knew where to eat, but my Find Me Gluten Free app saved me this time. Yeah, spontaneity is exciting and fun, but planning is the best way to save time and money and not starve yourself!

Be prepared

If you read my blog post about my insane flight to Los Angeles, you know all about that situation. Thankfully my friend was prepared and had no problem getting me from LAX at 1:30 in the morning, but that could have changed. Monday I went to Universal Studios by myself, and we planned for my friend to drive us to work (Warner Brothers) and I could walk or Uber the mile from there. My friend found out Sunday he needed to be at work by 7am that day, and Universal doesn’t open until 9 or 10. Thankfully, my friend’s roommates are awesome and I took an Uber with them when they left for work around 9, and I didn’t have to wander around Burbank or wait for Universal Studios to open. 

Don’t count on underpacking

When I’ve traveled before to visit my brother at his college, or go to New York and Boston or the beach for a few days, I’ve been amazing at packing. I’ve never packed too much and I’ve never forgotten anything important. Of course, that doesn’t count my most recent trip to New York when I packed 3 outfits a day, but that’s fashion week so it doesn’t count, right? When I booked my trip to California I was so sure I could get away with just my “personal item” sized duffel bag. I didn’t consider the fact that I would be there for close to a week, needed to fit every prescription bottle in my bag and numerous pairs of shoes. So I paid for a bag the day before my trip, which was much more expensive than if I paid for it when I initially booked the flights. Just give yourself some grace and pay for the bigger bag.