For novices planning a vacation, avoid learning travel lessons the hard way with these tips

A traveller can face some harsh realities, and unfortunately many of us have to endure the bad experiences before we learn the lesson. But hopefully this list will prepare you, so you won’t always have to learn the hard way.

1. Transportation (After You Arrive) is Expensive

Aside from the price of plane tickets, you’ll find out pretty quickly that transportation will cost you a lot. It’s easy to get excited about an upcoming trip and forget about factoring in what it costs to get around once you reach your destination.

This includes train travel if you’re planning on visiting multiple cities in Europe. And you can pretty much forget about making any changes to flights for free; even the slightest change to an air ticket will cost you a pretty penny.

2. Create a Flexible Travel Budget

While I always recommend having a travel budget, you’ll probably end up a little off when it comes to spending in destination. The truth is, it’s almost impossible to budget precisely for your first time to a new place. If you’re going to Europe, things tend to be pricier than expected, while trips to Asia or Central America can be less expensive.

It’s always best to shoot for a budget beyond what you’d expect in your worst-case scenario. And don’t forget about the vices — shopping, souvenirs, dining out, etc. These can really dent your budget if you’re unprepared.

3. Learn the Local Language

I have mentioned this in my previous travel etiquette stories, but I’ll say it again. Trying to speak the local language is appreciated! Your taking the time to learn a few key words like hello, goodbye and thank you will be received warmly by locals.

4. No, You're Not the Only Tourist

And this one may sound obvious, but sometimes reality and what we imagine can be very different. There will be other tourists wherever you go. This doesn’t always make for the most calming experience when you’re visiting attractions, but expect it to be busy. Prepare to have to wait to take pictures, if you want that family photo in front of the Eiffel Tower to include just your family.

5. Be Wary

Finally (and this applies here at home too), people who approach you and offer you something you didn’t know you needed probably aren’t just being Good Samaritans. There are plenty of good-hearted locals out there, but some will approach tourists (and tourists only) because that’s how they make a living. Whatever it is they’re selling, always use a discerning eye and don’t be afraid to haggle and confirm prices upfront.

Claire Newell is the travel media expert for Global BC, host of the travel series Operation: Vacation, best-selling author, spokesperson, wife and mother of two.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.