How To Avoid 3 Common Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Trip To Italy

Sep 23, 2016


I’ll be honest; even I’ve made these mistakes before… All in my first trip to Italy

These 3 mistakes are ones even tour professionals, like me, have made...

My very first trip to Italy, was to Rome… And I made EVERY mistake possible.   However, 3 of them were critical and avoidable before we even left home, and probably would have been the difference between my husband catching pneumonia and staying healthy.

The 3 Common Mistakes Are:

  1. Not enough planning advance
  2. Planning too much in a day
  3. Not Planning Strategically

So let’s break this down a bit…

Not planning can cause you to get lost, waste time and pull out your map! Pick(pocket) me! I'm a tourist!

1) Not Enough Planning In Advance

It’s easy to do. We have busy lives and even though we are very excited about this upcoming trip, we have so much other work to do, we push it off until it’s too late.

What’s wrong with not planning? I want to have the freedom to go with the flow!

Not planning can:

  • Cause you to miss a “must-see” sight or attraction – you didn’t know it existed or you didn’t have the required advanced tickets
  • Waste precious time and money – waiting in lines, buying more expensive tickets just to get in to something, spend vacation time planning as you go
  • Cause you to get lost (and not in a good way… yes there IS a good way) – Asking for directions in an area where people don’t speak a lot of English can make it difficult, It’s a waste of time and you may end up paying extra money to get back on track.
  • Cause higher stress levels – Are we on the right bus? What stop should we get off at? Where should we eat? Will we get ripped off here?

How to avoid this mistake is pretty easy. Have a plan before you go. Know which sites you want to see, what days they are closed, if they require advance booking and what area they are in (it might be right next to something else you want to see). Is there a good restaurant you heard was great? What’s the most efficient route to where you are going? One great way to make sure plan what you need in advance is to have a checklist of things to remember when planning. You can get our Ultimate Trip Planning Checklist here (it's free).

You might still be thinking… “But I want time to explore with out a plan, I want freedom.”

This brings us to the next common mistake…

Avoid waiting in lines by planning the right way!

2) Planning Too Much In A Day

This is the number 1 thing I tell people when they are planning their trip ANYWHERE.  Don’t plan too much in a day. Leave time to explore and have freedom. (That’s what you want right?)

There are literally Thousands of things to do or see in Italy, and you CANNOT see it all in one trip (and besides, who really wants to see ALL of it).

Planning too much can:

  • Cause you to get sick (or at least worn down) – Without some form of a break from your running around, you will just wear yourself out. It’s not a great feeling to be exhausted when there’s more to see on your list.
  • Actually make you miss things – I know it seems counterintuitive, but rushing around to “SEE” everything means you aren’t really experiencing and understanding what you are seeing. Dig deep; don’t just check it off a list.
  • Leave you missing the little things – You won’t have time to people watch in Piazza Navona, or wander down a little street off the beaten path to find a local pastry shop. These can make some of the most special moments of your trip.
  • Cause higher stress level – No matter where you are or where you are going you will be worried about getting to the next thing on time. Don’t miss that bus, your entry ticket is for 3pm and it’s already 2:30pm.  No thank you stress!

The best way to avoid this mistake is to plan approximately half of your day for seeing major sights or attractions that you have a set time to see, leaving the other half for smaller sights or completely unscheduled and just see what happens.

Obviously if you only have one day this won’t work. If you have 3 – 7 days, I suggest you force yourself to try it, with maybe 1 full packed day. If you have more than 5-7 days, try to leave at least one day completely unplanned. 

There’s a fine balance between not planning enough and planning too much. Figure this out and you are halfway there! (Again our trip planning checklist can help you avoid over-planning. Get it here.)

But wait… what’s the other half?  It’s our last common mistake…

If you don't plan your time out strategically, you could find yourself on the bus... A LOT!

3) Not Planning Strategically 

This mistake comes down to knowing what you want to see and where it is. If you have this information you can plan your days to be in specific areas, saving you even more time and money.

Not planning strategically can:

  • Waste time and money – traveling back and forth from one area to another means more time walking, taking the bus or cab and not hanging out seeing the sights.
  • Cause you to eat at a tourist trap – If you don’t know what area you will be in for the day, you won’t have a plan for where to eat. Yes you can find great places on accident, but the ones that will most likely be around when you find yourself hungry, will be thawed meat and store bought pasta for a price you shouldn’t be paying for that.
  • Raise your stress level – (Yep all 3 mistakes do it) Spending more time getting around can yet again add stress to your trip. You’ll be wasting energy figuring out where to go and how to get there.

Avoiding this mistake can change your whole trip. I suggest setting up your days to see specific areas of the city, this way you make sure you get the most out of every minute. You can even get ideas on where to eat or even make a reservation for a place that is sure to be packed with locals in that area. You can spend the day relaxed seeing what’s around until you are ready to head back to your hotel.

That’s it! Those are the 3 most common mistakes. I know it seems like they would be easy to avoid, but almost everyone I talk to has made at least 1 if not all 3 at some point or even repeatedly.

You probably noticed some common theme between them too. These mistakes can easily cost you precious time and money as well as raise your stress level. Typical vacation time for Americans is already too short, so avoid these mistakes get the most out of your trip to Italy.

(NOTE: Want Our Trip Planning Checklist? Make sure you don't these 3 common mistakes (or any others) when putting together your dream trip to Italy... You'll be sure to save time and money...... and reduce stress. Get it  here.)