As Cecilio and I gain more experience traveling, we learn so much along the way. We now know how to better prepare for our next trip. Even though we’ve been together for almost 11 years, this was the furthest trip we’ve taken together. And yes, that includes our honeymoon to Mexico.
Without further ado, here are some mistakes we made while planning for this trip. And hopefully, YOU will learn not to make the same ones and have a fun, stress-free trip.
Mistake #1: Staying in Croydon
I was scrolling through the AirBnB listings, and it seemed like I couldn’t have my cake and eat it too. We wanted the whole apartment (instead of just a private room), in the city center (preferably near Hyde Park). It appeared that most of those apartments that met our criteria cost almost as much as a hotel. So I found this super cute studio apartment that was only around $80 a night. Problem is, it wasn’t in the center. It was in Croydon, a borough in the south area. I was okay with that and figured that we needed to take public transportation to central London.
And boy did we take a lot of public transportation. I was naive underestimating how much time we’d spend on the buses and trains. Our apartment was far away from the East Croydon station, so we took a bus just to get there. Thankfully there was a bus stop in front of our apartment. But after arriving at the station, we would then take a long train ride all the way to the Victoria station. That took almost an hour each way.
Of course, we had to take the train or bus in between, like when we wanted to go to Hyde Park, London Eye, or the British Museum, but the rides from Croydon to London and back took up a lot of our time. Like I said in my London post, when you are traveling, your time is precious. Especially if you have a week or less.
If there was any upside to staying in Croydon, it would be that we got to experience the off-beat path. We were where most of the Londoners lived, ate, and commuted. But we love London so much that we plan to go back in a few years (maybe in 2022 on our 5-year wedding anniversary?) and stay in the city center!
Mistake #2: Not taking vitamins or Emergen-C before leaving for our trip
Always listen to your mom. My mom would hound me about taking vitamins, and she always takes vitamins and Emergen-C before leaving for a flight. We probably got sick in the plane. I know that you can still get sick even when you take all of the precautions, but I feel that if we did, we would’ve had a lower chance of catching a cold. This was the worst cold I’ve ever had. We probably got hit hard because we were in two other countries and our bodies were not used to the pathogens there.
I got a sore throat on our 3rd day (the day we took a trip to Stonehenge), but my cold came in full-force the day we left to go to Paris. Cecilio got hit on our 2nd day in Paris. What made it difficult was that even though our hotel was next to a pharmacy, we had to walk a few blocks to another one to get medicine. Most of the pharmacies in Paris are closed on Sundays. There are only a handful of ones that are open everyday, 24/7.
Now I take Vitamin C and Multivitamin gummies everyday. And wherever we go next year (and beyond), I am pouring a powder of Emergen-C into a glass of water and gulping that shit down the day before we leave for a flight.
Mistake #3: Eating at Nando’s
I don’t know why I was so obsessed with wanting to try Nando’s. I saw fellow bloggers talk about it, I saw the menu and everything sounded delicious. There’s a Nando’s in Earl’s Court where we got picked up and dropped off for our Stonehenge/Bath tour, so we had dinner there. We ordered half a pound of peri-peri chicken, chips, garlic bread, and halloumi sticks. The chicken and garlic bread were on the dry side, and the chips tasted “meh”. The Halloumi sticks were salty AF too. There are so many nice restaurants and pubs we could’ve gone to, especially in Earl’s Court. I guess I just wanted to try a fast food joint in another country, although there are Nando’s in the US (just not in California).
Mistake #4: Waiting too long to purchase the Eurostar tickets
I looked up the Eurostar tickets back in August to go from St. Pancras to Gare du Nord and they were around $80–$100 for a 9:15 a.m. departure. We slept on that too long. We checked again a few weeks before we left, and the price shot up to $134. Even prices for less desirable departure times (like at 6 a.m) rose significantly. If you already booked your flight and hotel stays and you know you’re itinerary, book the Eurostar ticket ASAP and don’t wait until the last minute.
Mistake #5: Not staying long enough
Well, I admit this part was out of our control. Not just because it would’ve been more expensive, but because I have the standard 2-week vacation time in the US. Cecilio gets a month off because he has worked at the same company for 5 years and more vacation time is one of those added perks. We really wanted to also go to Amsterdam, and we were even trying to see if we could squeeze it in as a day trip. But 1 day is absolutely not enough time to see Amsterdam. We already felt rushed in London and Paris. If I had more vacation time, I totally would’ve added in extra days off so that we could’ve added Amsterdam in our itinerary.
You live and you learn, and the more experience we get traveling, the more efficient we’ll be at planning and preparing! Especially if we do decide to go to Tokyo next year, which will require a lot more preparation on our end!
Hannah is a travel writer, graphic designer, and the founder/editor of Hannah on Horizon. She is based in Sacramento, California, living with her husband and two adorable dogs. She shares tips on how to experience luxury travel on any budget, and how to maximize time at each trip or destination, no matter what your budget or amount of vacation time at work. She enjoys making you feel like you have visited each destination with her through her storytelling and informative writing style.