3 Common Mistakes Noob Travelers Tend to Make

I’ll never forget my first “big” trip.

Corporate America had sucked the life out of me and I was ready to hit the road.

Adventure was all that was on me mind.

I wanted freedom. I wanted to explore. My energy was through the roof.

And I needed all that new traveler energy too.

Because I booked the trip like an absolute dickhead.

Within the first two weeks on the road, I’d slept in seven different beds and one straw hut.

I’d consumed copious amounts of alcohol almost every night. Put a full-time effort into mating with anything that had a pulse.

Living like I’d never again get to leave the police state known as the ole’ USA. Acting like a walking gringo stereotype at every turn.


I was having a hell of a time.

Can’t even lie about it.

I’ll always look back on that trip with the fondness. That bad boy watered the seeds of what would become a true travel addiction.

But here’s the thing:

It could have been better.

I made all the mistakes in the book. All the mistakes noob travelers tend to make when they hit the road for the first time.

Mistakes that can be easily avoided with a little understanding and planning.

Mistakes I made so you don’t have to.

3 Common Mistakes Noob Travelers Tend to Make

So enough of the fluff.

Enough of me reminiscing.

Let’s dig in and get you some actionable travel tips for any and all looking to hit the road here soon.

Here’s three common mistakes noob travelers tend to make:

  • Moving Too Fast

Legit everyone who hits me up for travel advice before there first big trip says something like:

“Hey Jake, I’ve got three weeks to travel around Colombia. I’m thinking of checking out Medellin, Bogota, Cartagena, and Parque Tayrona. Any advice?


Pick one of those cities and spend your whole three weeks there.

Spend your whole time in Bogota.

Or Medellin.

You needn’t “see” all of Colombia in your couple week trip.

Hell, you can’t. It’s impossible.

So don’t even try.

You’ll end up a third of you travel time packing bags, taking buses, and sitting in airports.

That’s not fun.

Plus, you won’t get to know a damn thing about those cities. You won’t see much of the culture in the country.

You’ll see tourist shit.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

You’ll see the bits and pieces of the country the tour guide wants you to see in order to extract as much money from you as possible.

Instead, stay put.

Travel to one city.

Grab a nice Airbnb apartment.

Then set off to truly explore and get to know said city.

Hit the normal tourist activities. Eat some of the local cuisine. Enjoy a little nightlife. Try to meet some locals. Get off the beaten path.

I’ve never been bored in a large city after just a few weeks.

There’s simply too much to do and too many people to meet.

If you get bored in a large city in a foreign country after a couple weeks, I’ve got some bad news for you…

The city isn’t boring. You are.

~ TL:DR ~

If you’re new to traveling, decide where you’ll go. Put together a plan. Then select only one city on your list. The one city you want to see the most. Stay there for one week to one month. Truly get to know the place. 

Barranco in Lima, Peru.

  • Saving Money to Spend Time

Make no mistake about it…

Time is our most valuable resource.

You can’t get more time. You can’t make time back. No way to make more of it.

That grim reaper is coming for your ass at a certain time and place. You legit have zero control over it.

Your time on this earth is set in stone.

You might go tomorrow. You might go 75+ years from now.

I haven’t a clue. Nor do you.

The point?

You have a finite amount of time on this earth.

So stop wasting it. Especially when you’re on the road.

I get wanting to save money. I’ve been broke before.

But got damn!

Stop saving money to waste time.

The tradeoff simply isn’t worth it, ladies and gentlemen.

What am I talking about?

This is a common thing many a traveler does…

There in a city and traveling to the next city.  A bus to that city is 8-12+ hours away. Let’s say the bus costs $40 bucks.

There’s also a one hour flight between the city. It costs $100 bucks.

Every noob traveler I meet takes the fookin’ bus.

To “save” $60 bucks.

But here’s the thing…you’re not saving anything. You’re wasting time.

Let’s say it takes you three hours flying to get from A-Z. From your apartment in the first city to your new place in the next one.

With a bus it takes you 12 hours.

So you save $60 bucks but lose nine hours of freedom.

Nine hours to do something.

To explore the new city. To get some work done. Hell, to do whatever you please.

That means you value your time at less than $7 USD an hour.

Your time on the road. Valuable time that you can never get back.

To me..

Hours on the road are worth far more than a measly $7 bucks an hour.

The point?

Book the fookin’ flight. Spend the little bit extra. It’s asinine to spend full days on bus rides just to save a few bucks.

That’s wasting precious travel time that you can’t get back.

~ TL:DR ~

When on the road, your time is more valuable than money.

Ridin’ dirty in Cuba.

  • Drinking, Dating, and Mating

Here’s the thing about travel that many noobs fail to realize…

You don’t have to get wasted every single night.

The liquor companies are going to keep producing spirits and brews tomorrow.

Te lo juro.

That sketchy drug dealer in the club bathroom will always have enough supply to feed the needy.

He’s not gonna run out.

Oh, and…

You don’t have to make a valiant attempt to sleep with every single attractive member of the opposite sex you meet while traveling.

I mean, you can.

I just wouldn’t recommend it.

And that’s coming from experience. Pun intended.

Sure, you want to meet people while traveling and sex is going to happen. That’s just the way it is.

Not only are other travelers around you all hopped up on that travel energy that tends to sends hormones straight to the loins, but there’s often sexy locals around.

And being in a foreign country puts the exotic factor at play.

But don’t spend your whole vacation trying to get in where you fit in.

Do some other shit. Put the focus on making memories you’re sure to never forget.

Not just on getting laid.

The trip will be way more fun and guess what…you’ll end up getting laid tambien.

The easiest way to do this?

To take the focus off mating while on the road?

Just delete Tinder.

Meet people in person.

Problem solved.

Oh, and personally, I put limits on my degeneracy while traveling.

For example, I have nights scheduled where I can drink and party. I have nights schedule where I can go on dates.

I also have numerous nights schedule where I won’t do either because I’m focused on creating other travel experiences – like a full day hike or waking up early to get to an attraction before anyone else.

~ TL:DR ~

Have fun on the road. But don’t let your travels turn into pure degeneracy the whole time. Focus on other shit too.

La rumba en San Jose, Costa Rica.

What Else?

As per usual, this post twas’ a little longer than expected.

I’m a wordy fucker from time to time.

But the details above are all mistakes I’ve made. Mistakes I learned the hard way when hitting the road for the first time.

Mistakes I see many fellow noob travelers making when they first start to hit the road.

But, what about you…

What did you screw up when you first hit the road?

Think about it and sound off in the comments below.

Que te vaya bien,


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Jake D

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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