Anthony Bourdain’s Secrets to Avoiding the Ultimate Travel Mistakes

When traveling, there is much to experience yet so much that can go wrong. No matter how high-end, low-end, or middle-of-the-road you choose to travel, there are grave mistakes you should avoid. Luckily, Anthony Bourdain spent years sharing his travel advice with the world. These are the ultimate travel mistakes Bourdain hated.

1. Haphazardly approaching TSA

Passenger Puts Liquids Into Bag At Airport Security Check

This is a well known fact. Be prepared. | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

When it comes to embarking on a long journey, there is little more aggravating than slowly navigating an extremely long and busy TSA line — cue the regret of not applying for pre-check. And it is practically a guarantee that at least one person is holding up the security line because of their complete haphazard approach. This peeved Bourdain to no end. He told Travel + Leisure, “They said no liquids and gels, motherf***er. You know? Come on!” A little preparation goes a very long way.

Next: One approach that transcends all language barriers

2. Not being kind

two tourists with a map

Even if you’re lost, don’t lash out. | beer5020/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you are traveling within the U.S. or abroad, unexpected hiccups are bound to make you deviate from your original plan. In these cases, keeping your cool is the true test. If everyone just adopted Bourdain’s philosophy of “just be nice …getting angry and frustrated in much of the world doesn’t help at all,” we’d all be better for it.

Next: Sometimes being kind is easier with this one factor in play.

3. Packing your schedule with strict plans

Depressed traveler waiting at airport, flights delays and cancellations

So your flight got delayed and you’re going to miss your tour. | NicoElNino/iStock/Getty Images

Unless you’re a free spirit, it’s understandable to have a basic outline of places to go and things to see. But when it comes to a minding a chiseled-in-stone agenda of each travel day, Bourdain said, “It’s punishing.” He told MyDomaine:

“The sort of frenzied compression of time needed to take the tour, to see the sights, keeps you in a bubble that prevents you from having magic happen to you. Nothing unexpected or wonderful is likely to happen if you have an itinerary in Paris filled with the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.”

Next: Do you Yelp everything? 

4. Basing your entire trip off TripAdvisor reviews

Man in car with TripAdvisor app open.

Be open to the options that just present themselves to you. | pressureUA/iStock/Getty Images

If you treat Yelp and TripAdvisor as your one-stop travel gurus, it’s time to reconsider the value of individual opinions. When it comes to making an Amazon purchase, sure, take time to read reviews. But when it comes to experiences and cuisine, you must take the scrutiny with a grain of salt. Bourdain agreed. “I don’t see them as reliable, because you don’t know what people’s priorities are,” he told MyDomaine.

Next: What makes travel truly special? 

5. Avoiding the unknowns

Buddhist temple located on the side of a cliff in Bhutan

Try visiting a remote monastery in Bhutan. | StephenChing/iStock/Getty Images

The fear associated with the unknown can be crippling when it comes to travel. Granted, it’s easy to follow suit, visiting the top travel destinations for the year. But what about the harder-to-reach destinations — you know, the destinations where tourists are hard to come by (without Wi-Fi)? “We tend to be overconcerned with safety and with cleanliness in ways that stand between us,” Bordain told MyDomaine. Touché.

Next: Stop before stepping foot into that restaurant.

6. Not indulging in the local fare

Thai woman sales at the Saturday Night Market

Too often, the best food is at the places you least expect. | ErmakovaElena/iStock/Getty Images

The local fare of any culture is where you’ll experience the true magic. It’s in the central markets and on the streets where the real food is being prepared. When talking about eating in Singapore, Bourdain told Bon Appétit:

“If you’re in Singapore and there are two chicken and rice places, and there’s one with a huge line, go to the one with the huge line. Already, that’s a clue. If a place is crowded, but the people lining up are not local, that’s a clue—a bad clue. If it doesn’t have signs in English. It’s almost always worth investigating.”

Next: Don’t start or end your trip with this.

7. Eating airplane food in general

Served Lunch in Aircraft

It’s not great. | Aureliy/iStock/Getty Images

If you have the option to grab a bite or to-go meal from the airport, do it. As so many of us already know, airplane food is subpar at best — even if you’re traveling in business class. So do yourself a favor, and grab snacks and food on your way to the airport or from the terminal.

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