Whether it’s your first trip, second, or tenth, almost everyone makes mistakes when they travel. These mistakes can cause major headaches, significant problems, and maybe even ruin your trip. Fortunately, with knowledge and planning, it’s fairly easy to avoid many of the most common travel mistakes. Here are some of the worst mistakes travelers make and how to avoid them.
Saving Money at the Expense of Time
So many travelers focus on saving money during their trip and forget the phrase “time is money.” Time is a limited resource for any vacation and is just as valuable as money. It can be worth it to spend a little more for that hotel near the sights you want to see or taking a taxi over the bus for just an extra $5.
Needlessly Waiting in Lines
Crowds are almost always unavoidable at the world’s most popular attractions, such as the Colosseum or the Eiffel Tower. What you can avoid, however, is standing in the long queue. Most of the popular tourist sights today allow you to buy tickets online in advance, usually guaranteeing admission at a specific time. While there are sometimes a small extra booking fee purchasing tickets this way, it can definitely be well worth the extra dollar or two to save you hours in line.
Not Staying Alert to Thieves and Scammers
If you’re not staying alert during your travels, it’s possible for you to get pickpocketed or conned. Cab drivers could pad your fare or a beggar with a sad story could ask you for money while another person steals your wallet. The key is to stay alert and pay attention to your surroundings, and your belongings. Keep your cash, credit cards, and passport stored securely and watch out for pickpockets on public transportation and crowded tourist sites.
Carrying All Your Money in Your Wallet
Pickpocketing is a big problem in many tourist destinations, particularly big cities. If your wallet is stolen with all your cards and cash in it, you’ll be without any money. Keep your money in multiple locations on your person and in your bags.
Not Leaving the Tourist Areas
So many travelers try to visit the most popular tourist areas in the most popular cities during the busiest months, and then often complain about crowds. You’ll find countless people eating at the most touristy areas and complain about the food or price. Venturing just a street or two away from a city’s main tourist area can greatly enrich your trip, as you’ll likely find much more delicious food and better prices (along with less crowds).
Letting a Mistake Ruin the Trip
Don’t let a mistake, small or large, ruin your trip. Sometimes things happen and it’s best to just try to brush it off and enjoy the good things about your travels. If you do make a mistake, learn from it and let yourself continue to be struck with wonder when traveling to new places.
While it can be tempting to pack outfits for any possible occasion, it can definitely make hauling your luggage around more difficult. You could also end up with baggage fees for your luggage being overweight or not having enough room for souvenirs you pick up during your travels. Choose clothes you can mix and match to create multiple outfits. Worse case scenario, you can do some laundry during your trip.
One thing to remember is passports expire, and you can’t necessarily use them up to that expiration date to travel. Some destinations require you to have at least 3 to 6 months left on your passport, particularly if you need a visa to travel there. You also need to have at least two blank pages for many places.
Not Checking Your Cell Phone Plan
Make sure you know what your cell phone plan covers before you leave home. You don’t want to be hit with unexpected data roaming fees on your next bill. If you need to use data while traveling outside the country, consider purchasing a local SIM card after you arrive at your destination or buying an international phone plan. Otherwise, turn off data on your phone before boarding the plane and leave your cell phone in airplane mode. You can still connect to Wi-Fi without using data.
Not Making Sure There’s Enough Time Between Flights
Flights can be unpredictable. Your first flight could be delayed, possibly causing you to rush through an unfamiliar airport to make the connecting flight. Make sure you book a flight with enough time between connections to give you a buffer. Plan for 60 to 90 minutes for domestic layovers and at least two hours for international connections.
Not Having Cash
Pretty much anywhere in the world, you’ll need some of the local currency for cab rides or public transportation. While you can use credit cards in many places, always make sure you have some cash on hand. Local markets and many smaller local places only accept cash. You can exchange your money at your bank before your trip if you want, or just get cash out at the airport ATMs.
Not Telling Your Credit Card Company About Your Trip
Credit card companies will flag foreign transactions as fraud and could freeze your account if you don’t inform them of your travel plans before you leave. Most allow you to do this online. Also, find out if the company charges foreign transaction fees. There are many credit cards out there that offer no foreign transaction fees, travel rewards, and even travel insurance. (I personally use the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.)