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10 Easy Ways To Ruin Your Vacation (and How To Avoid Them)

Don’t let bad attitude or poor planning get in the way of your perfect getaway. Prevent potential problems by avoiding these 10 key mistakes.

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Travel Fail

Travel Fail

We all want our vacations to be perfect. After all, with all the time and money we spend on them, an unenjoyable day seems like a major waste. But are you planning your vacation the right way? Find out about 10 ways you can easily ruin your vacation – and how to prevent them.

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1. You Forget to Check on Entry Requirements

1. You Forget to Check on Entry Requirements

Canadians have it pretty easy when it comes to travelling abroad – plenty of countries allow us entry either visa-free or with some quick paperwork at the border. Others, however, require planning ahead – and having documents in place is the traveller’s responsibility. “If you don’t have the proper documents, they won’t let you into the country,” says Tessis.

Fix it: A quick Google search will tell you what you need to know. Just make sure to do the research earlier than the night before your trip – some visas can take weeks to procure.

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2. You Travel with the Wrong Person

2. You Travel with the Wrong Person

“For me, the most important thing is always finding the right person to travel with,” says Toronto-based PR professional – and travel fanatic – Lindsay Tessis , who says she has experienced both good and bad travel partners. “Last year I spent two weeks in Central America with someone I’d been dating at the time,” she says. “The little voice in my head kept telling me that the trip wasn’t a good idea but I went ahead with it anyway. Let’s just say it wasn’t one of my favourite trips.”

Fix it: A good friend or even spouse doesn’t always make a good travel partner – at least not for every trip. “Listen to your gut when it comes to whom you’re going away with,” suggests Tessis – and don’t be afraid to say no or travel solo.

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3. You Keep Quiet About Problems During Your Trip

3. You Keep Quiet About Problems During Your Trip

“Communication is key when it comes to travelling with another person, especially for long periods of time,” says Tessis. Whether you’re bothered by the early bedtime, the late beach arrival or wet bathing suits on the bathroom floor, stewing over the issue will end up making everyone unhappy.

Fix it: “If you have a problem, talk it out,” says Tessis. “The outcome will be much better than letting things boil over and creating tension.” Just make sure to approach the issue from the perspective of “this bothers me” rather than “you are a problem” – accusations won’t make things better, either.

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4. You Only Socialize With the People You're Travelling With

4. You Only Socialize With the People You’re Travelling With

“It’s the easy way out to just talk to the person you’re with, but it doesn’t make for nearly as enriching an experience,” says Tessis. And especially if you’re visiting an all-inclusive resort, it’s all too easy to travel abroad without meeting any locals. But is that really travelling?

Fix it: “Be open to talking to people along the way,” suggests Tessis, whether it’s your taxi driver, a shop owner or another tourist on your group tour. You never know who you might meet, or what you might learn.

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5. You Take Things Too Seriously

5. You Take Things Too Seriously

“Every holiday you take, something is bound to go wrong,” says Tessis. “If you can laugh about it, it makes things that much better.” So yes, worry a little about keeping your passport safe and getting to the airport on time. But worrying about every single little thing that might go wrong during the whole trip – or anything that hasn’t gone perfectly – isn’t exactly going to be a whole lot of fun.

Fix it: “Have a sense of humour about things,” says Tessis. “Don’t take yourself so seriously!” Besides, learning to have fun even through unexpected situations is a skill that will serve you throughout life, not just when you’re travelling.

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6. You Go Way Over Budget

6. You Go Way Over Budget

“Overspending is not something that’s fun to deal with later on,” says Tessis. “If you’re travelling with someone else, make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to money because this can often be a point of contention.” It’s not a big deal to go a little over budget, but too many extra-big purchases are just going to stress you out when you get home – and who want to associate that with vacation?

Fix it: “Set a budget and stick to it,” says Tessis. “Don’t spend more money than you have.” If you’re travelling with friends, communicate spending expectations and be open to compromise and occasionally splitting up if necessary.

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7. You Only Do Things You've Done Before

7. You Only Do Things You’ve Done Before

Yes, your hotel room likely comes with a TV and multiple channels. But did you really travel just to watch “Pretty Woman” with subtitles? The worst travel regret is always the things you didn’t do or try.

Fix it: “Get out of your comfort zone and try something different when you’re away,” says Tessis. “Do something that you can’t do at home – you can watch TV or sit in a bar anywhere!”

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8. You Don't Plan or Research Your Destination

8. You Don’t Plan or Research Your Destination

“You don’t need to plan out your entire trip in advance,” says Tessis – it’s not a bad idea to build in some flexibility, especially if weather might be an issue – “but have a clear idea of the top things that you’d really like to see and do.” Must-see shows and must-visit restaurants can sell out – and do you really want to hear about that amazing tour once it’s too late to book it?

Fix it: “Do some research beforehand,” suggests Tessis. Make use of your Facebook friends to hear what they recommend, or pick up a guidebook from the library or bookstore to scan through the top recommendations.

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9. You Base Your Mood on the Weather

9. You Base Your Mood on the Weather

“The weather is the one thing that is totally out of your control,” says Tessis. “Don’t let it stop you from having a good time.” Yes, it sucks if your beach time is limited because of chilly or rainy weather, but it’s not worth getting upset about – at least not for too long.

Fix it: “Pick activities that you can do in rain or shine,” says Tessis. At the very least, have a list of backup bad-weather activities to draw upon if the forecast’s less than sunny.

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10. You Neglect the Status of Your Passport

10. You Neglect the Status of Your Passport

“I filled my passport in Vietnam and had to replace it and it was a huge hassle,” says Tessis. “Since my visa had been tied to my old passport and I had a new temporary passport on me, I had to pay off the corrupt border officials.” Passports expiring too soon can cause similar problems, as many countries require that they’re valid for six months beyond your travel dates.

Fix it: Prevent problems by ensuring both that your passport has enough empty pages for the trip you’re going on, and that its expiry date is far in the future. While you’re at it, make a photocopy, scan or digital photo and store it somewhere you can access it in case of loss or theft.