If you're one of the 68% of Americans who actually used their vacation days last year, you know just how important it is to make every ounce of that paid time off count. And while the beauty of a vacation is that you can do whatever the hell you want without judgment, there are some decisions SO poor, so woefully bereft of sense, that no good outcome could ever hope to result from them. These are 15 of those decisions.
Staying at an all-inclusive resort
Sure, unlimited food and drinks sounds pretty damn fantastic at first, but the maddening realization that you just spent a massive lump sum on bottomless rail liquor and limitless frozen pizza will take the sails out of any vacation. Unless you’re opting for one of these slick resorts, do yourself a favor and skip it.
Trying to do too much
It's only natural to wanna justify the cost of your vacation by cramming as many activities and sights as possible into every 24-hour period. After all, you're only gonna be in Australia once, right?
Wrong. After your third day of nonstop touring, you'll be wishing you'd penciled in a day of rest at the pool. Trying to squeeze an outback walkabout and a Great Barrier Reef snorkeling session into four days is a great way to enjoy neither activity.
Being a slave to your original itinerary
Even if you plan your trip out right, stubbornly sticking to your original itinerary only ensures that you'll miss out on the random opportunities that pop up. Factoring in flexibility can be just as important as giving yourself some time to relax, and it can result in some pretty awesome experiences -- like catching live music in a dive bar you just so happen to be walking past on your way to the Sagrada Familia.
Not getting travel insurance
Like all insurance, you pay for travel insurance in the hopes that you won’t need it; that said, you’ve probably already dropped a sizable sum on your trip to Aruba, so why not tack on an extra couple hundred dollars for some peace of mind? Yes, you could take your chances and hope that Hurricane Denzel doesn’t hit when you’re relaxing on the beach, or that your tandem skydive instructor knows what he's doing, but if the defecation hits the oscillation, you’re out a thousand-dollar vacation. Or a life.
Carrying your passport with you
You’d be surprised how many people still leave the hotel holding the one thing that'll allow them to return to their home country safely. If you absolutely need to carry your passport for identification purposes, make a photocopy and leave the original in your hotel safe. Seriously, this should be a no-brainer: 160,050 UK passports were either lost or stolen abroad between 2008 and 2013 alone. If you do lose it though, here's how you get a new one while abroad.
Not bringing these cheap travel accessories
For a total cost of less than $100, each of the 12 items above can safeguard you against some easily preventable travel disasters -- from emergency bag repair, to nighttime security, to accidental dismemberment. And to top it off, they can all fit into a reasonably sized fanny pack. You should totally get a fanny pack too, by the way.
While yes, it would be terrible if you left your galoshes at home and ended up needing them in Bermuda, consider the possibility that you might be the traveling equivalent of a doomsday prepper. Leave the Wellingtons at home, let your feet get wet, and use the added room in your luggage to bring back a sweet fertility idol or something.
Not checking whether you need a visa beforehand
Being an American citizen gives you pretty easy access to most of the world's tourist hotspots, so it's easy to overlook the fact that there are some places which require a bit more to visit than simply paying for a plane ticket and a hotel room. Countries like Brazil, India, China, and Vietnam each require US citizens to obtain a tourist visa prior to arrival; if you show up without one, you'll be unceremoniously sent back home on the next flight.
Ignoring Customs regulations
Your vacation is over, you've had a whale of a time, and you're about to head home; why ruin things by flagrantly disregarding Customs regulations? Yes, that sick piece of driftwood you found on the beach does look a lot like Dikembe Mutombo, but if you'd paid ANY attention to the warnings posted throughout the airport upon your arrival, you'd know that it's one of many things you're simply not allowed to bring back with you. Don't let the customs official wag his finger at you -- leave Mr. Mutombo behind.
Neglecting to apply sunscreen
Reapplying sunscreen every few hours definitely interrupts the flow of a nice day at the beach, but it's infinitely preferable to the supreme agony of waking up with a scorching full-body burn -- especially if it's early in your trip. Maybe you don't think you need to put on sunscreen, because you're 5/16ths Sicilian and your body can totally take it; once you're done lying to yourself, realize that whether you're applying sunscreen beforehand, or aloe vera afterwards, you're gonna be rubbing some kind of lotion all over your body. Might as well do it when your skin isn't on fire.
"Hiding" your phone on the beach
You and your friends aren't fooling anyone by slipping your phones underneath the towel before you run off into the surf. That's pretty much the first place thieves look, and more likely than not, you'll come back to discover your phones are gone, and probably your sunscreen too -- because even thieves know the importance of reapplying.
Getting island cornrows or braids
Having your hair twisted into tight, intricate patterns might be great for #vacation selfies on Instagram, but there's an unspoken cost associated with these tropical hairdos. Yes, they can be incredibly painful, and that alone should be reason enough for you to avoid them, but they also expose your sensitive scalp to the harsh sun. Have you ever had a scalp sunburn? Because this is how you get a scalp sunburn.
Booking tight connecting flights
Yes, you ran track in college and know the layout of the airport like the back of your hand, so obviously it should be no problem for you to dash from Gate 2 to Gate 58D if everything lines up perfectly. But here’s the thing: when have you ever had ANYTHING line up perfectly for you at the airport? If you've booked a 10-minute connection, you might as well stop off at Cinnabon and drown your shame in frosting, because that connection is not happening.
Carrying only large bills, or no cash at all
The only thing worse than going around expecting every local stall to accept your Platinum Diners Club card? Handing the shopkeep a $100 bill and expecting $93 in change. Break your large bills whenever possible -- or better yet, exchange them for some local currency -- and you'll avoid raising the ire of every shawl merchant in the Medina.
Flaunting your wealth
You probably aren’t stupid enough to go waving your money (or iPhone for that matter) around in a crowded marketplace (right?), but the risk doesn't end there. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re having fun, and you’d be surprised how quickly buying bottle service for random women in an Ibiza nightclub can turn into you getting mugged in the back alley when you leave to “head back to their place.”