Travel Mistakes You Can Avoid
Even the most meticulously planned trip is subject to snafus, but with a little insider know-how, you can avoid making the common mistakes that can derail a vacation.
- Packing TOO much. According to a
recent survey by Travelodge, two-thirds of travelers typically return from a
trip with at least six unworn outfits.
- Taking expensive cosmetics in your
carry on that are over 3.4 oz. You end
up throwing them. It might be possible
to check your bag, but you need a lot of extra time to do this.
- Putting keys into checked baggage
and then having lost luggage. You not
only don’t have your luggage, but no car or house keys.
- Not taking some clothes in a carry
on and then finding out your checked bag has been lost.
cheap flip-flops. It is best to invest
in good shoes, good on the feet and you won’t have to buy multiple pairs.
- One-bag carry-on packing is important for budget travelers who want to cut out baggage fees. But don't take the advice so seriously that you fail to
pack essential medications, everything from a hard-to-fill prescription to your
favorite brand of over-the-counter health product. Such items may be difficult
to replace and when they can be replaced, you'll frequently pay a much heftier
price than what is charged back home
tightening shampoo caps ... all the way. Those little trial-size shampoo and
conditioner bottles are really handy -- until they magically burst open
in-flight, spreading a layer of glycerol soapy liquid all over your bag.
- Forgetting your passport.
checking visa requirements before departure. It's a
nightmare come true when you get turned away at the ticket counter on departure
day because you didn't realize you needed a visa before travel.
printing out reservation details. They're already on your phone and
computer, so why bother with hard copies of your hotel name and address?
Because your phone, computer, tablet and other electronics might not work with
the local network as soon as you land, especially after crossing oceans.
Not applying for your passport early enough. Routine passport processing takes about four to six weeks, so as soon as you start planning for your trip, apply for a passport if you need one, or make sure the one you already have hasn't expired. Plus, in certain countries you need at least six months' worth of validity remaining to enter.
- Using a
credit card to get cash. This is the fastest way of paying
through the nose. Credit card companies charge a high transaction fee (up to
15%) for using a card to get cash. The ATM-owning bank will charge a fee; if
you're withdrawing a foreign currency the exchange rate will be miserly; and if
you're not paying off your balance each month, credit card companies in some
countries will apply your partial payments to normal purchases (with a lower
interest rate, say 9%) before applying them to those cash advances (which have
a much higher interest rate.
changing money at the airport. When traveling internationally, the
conventional wisdom is that only amateurs change money at the airport, because
the exchange rate for foreign currency will be better in town. It usually is,
but often not by that much.
Exchange it in the airport and don’t waste time looking for an ATM all around town.
However, many hotels also exchange money for a better rate than the airport.
- Not having extra cash for
- Don’t book the wrong return flight
from a trip. It could end up costing hundreds of dollars to rebook at the last
- Not reading the airline ticket carefully,
(date and time, airport name), and missing a flight.
Not booking enough connection time between flights.
- If you take
photos of local people, ask permission as in some cultures taking a photo of
the person is equivalent to stealing their souls.
checking your phone plan before traveling abroad.
What you call "international roaming" your phone carrier calls "shareholder dividend!"
A week of texts from Singapore or St. Lucia shouldn't cost more and hurt worse than open heart surgery. But it happens all the time to travelers who fail to check their phone plans before departure.
- Hanging your purse on the back of a
restaurant chair. This is a perfect opportunity for a thief to steal it or its
- Putting your passport in your wallet and storing it in
the outside pocket of your backpack. By the time you are out of a bus, train,
or airport your wallet and passport will be gone. In lieu of a backpack try a
shoulder bag, and always tuck valuables inside, in a zipped pocket.
- Don’t wear great gobs of expensive jewelry in developing
countries. People have things stolen. You don't want to draw too much attention
to yourself and certainly not with stuff that looks like it can be sold.
- At Internet cafes, don’t forget to log out of your chat
program, or worse, email account.
- Not having your boarding pass or identification out and
ready at security checkpoints. If you’re using a passport, open it to your
picture page. Also put your laptop in a separate bin and put your shoes in
front of your belongings, because the agent may take extra time to stare at the
monitor checking the carry-on and computer and while they are doing that, you
can put on belongings such as shoes. Don't be foolish and just put your bag on
the conveyor belt and walk away. You need to push your belongings onto the
moving belt and stay until you can't see them anymore.
- Holding up the line by arguing with the TSA official that
your toothpaste or shampoo is of a 12-ounce size, but it's less than ¼ full and
therefore meets the 3-ounce requirement.
- Forgetting items at security.
- Not allowing enough time to deal with long security
lines, congested traffic, and crowded terminals. Failing to account for this
can mean missed flights, change fees and other expensive problems. Arriving anything less than two
hours before an international flight is risky, but even a longer cushion can
- Agreeing to go to a time share
presentation to get a free excursion.
They are usually time consuming and eat up a lot of your vacation.
- Spending money on what seems to be a bargain at souvenir
tables. You will be tempted to spend money on what are represented as great
bargains such as watches, wood products and more. Perhaps some of these
offerings are in fact good buys, but try to avoid buying for the sake of taking
home a bargain. Many times, those purchases prove less than satisfying after
the return home. Another thing to keep in mind: sellers know you'll be gone
quickly, and there will be little chance to return on shoddy merchandise.
- Not buying
something you like as soon as you see it because you think you’re going to circle back to that shop. You
think you'll see a cheaper, better version somewhere else. You won't. When you
see something you like, just buy it and live without regret.
- Trying too
hard to chisel out a bargain. There's no faster way to become
embittered with the locals than going toe-to-toe with a market full of hungry
sales people and shopkeepers.
- Buying a large item at the beginning of your trip and not shipping it home. You will have to lug the thing around for a while.
Trying to Get Cheap Accommodations/Flights/Tickets:
- Booking accommodations that you
think are in the center of the city and they end up being 45 minutes away. Near
city center is open to vast interpretation. When you find the money you saved
on your "near city center" hotel is being spent on 30-minute commutes
and outrageous taxi fares, you know you've committed one of the cardinal sins
- Waiting to get a good deal at the
last minutes. According to Travelers Today,
research conducted by Kayak found the optimal timing for a cheap-ticket
purchase is 21 and 34 days before domestic and international flights,
respectively. But 2012 analysis by CheapAir.com
concluded that on average the cheapest fares are found 49 days before a flight.
Meanwhile, researchers at Texas A&M University
simply found that Saturdays and Sundays are best for finding discount fares.
The golden rule? There's no golden rule. Tickets are cheapest when they're
- Booking a trip with a connecting
flight that is cheaper than a direct flight, but missing the connection. It ends up costing more in the long run to
rebook the missed connection than it would to have booked the direct flight.
- Waiting in line for Cheap Tickets in
New York, when you could have looked on-line before the trip and got some very
affordable if not rock-bottom priced tickets.
- Not booking Shore
excursions ahead of time. You may find a
better deal on-line than going through the cruise line, but the excursion
company may be very disorganized or late. You can book when you get on shore,
usually for less, but again, you may not return to the ship on time for
- Not buying
the full insurance policy: A lot of the mistakes on this list
come down to adding a significant amount of stress to your life in the name of
saving a few bucks. If you actually end up needing the travel insurance you
purchased you're going to want the full coverage. Healthcare is expensive in
other countries for travelers. That bargain insurance policy might pay for your
flight home when you crash your motor scooter on a winding road in some island
paradise. But it won't cover the $5,000 in stitches you racked up during your
three-day international hospital stay.
- Not checking Resort Fees. - They can add lots of dollars to a bill. Make sure you find out what they will be
before you book a room.
- Over relying on guide books. - One
or two suggestions are good to pull from guide books, but you should consult
experts or your friends that have been to your travel location.
Basing your hotel choice on marketing photos. Any hotel or resort can use a fish-eye lens and carefully select photos to make their property look desirable. Viewing unaltered third-party pictures on sites like TripAdvisor.com and Oyster.com can give you real-life insight into the look of the place.
- Inviting the wrong person to go on
the trip. Try to find someone with the
same habits (likes to get up early or late and likes the same kind of activity
level and activities).
· Trying to do too much in one trip. Allot a minimum of three days for visiting major cities like Rome, London, and Paris, and you'll end up with
a richer vacation that includes time for simple pleasures like people-watching or relaxing in sidewalk cafés.