Of course, we all make mistakes in organising our travels, but Do You Make These 21 Travel Mistakes? You really shouldn’t be making these, seasoned traveller or not. Yet, we still do.
1. Not Checking your Passport
- 1 1. Not Checking your Passport
- 2 2. Not checking visa requirements before departure
- 3 3. Not making copies of your documentation
- 4 4. Not figuring out Airport Transfers
- 5 5. Not knowing how to get from the airport to where you are going.
- 6 6. Not Booking a Place to Stay – at least for the first night.
- 7 7. Not factoring in the different time zones when booking your trip.
- 8 8. Not Using RFID Protectors
- 9 9. Not Calling Your Credit Card Company
- 10 10. Not Checking Your Phone Plan
- 11 11. Failing to Research Local Transportation
- 12 12. Not Buying Health Insurance
- 13 13. Not Setting a Budget
- 14 14. Not Joining an Airline Program
- 15 15. Keeping All Your Money in One Place
- 16 16. Using a Currency Exchange or Money Changers
- 17 17. Over packing
- 18 18. Looking Like a Tourist
- 19 19. Not being aware of Local Customs
- 20 20. Not being aware of Public Holidays
- 21 21. Trying to see and do too much
- 22 Do You Make These 21 Travel Mistakes?
Passport processing can take up to six weeks, so as soon as you start planning for your trip, you need to apply for a passport. If you already have one, make sure that it hasn’t expired. Remember, some individual countries require that you have at least six months on your passport before expiry before you are allowed to enter.
2. Not checking visa requirements before departure
A lot of countries will require a visa before entry. Some visas can be purchased at the airports but a lot of others need this to be done in advance, and this takes time. It is your responsibility to organise this, to check the requirements of EACH and EVERY country that you are going to and to have all of the legal documentation in order. If you don’t – you are not entering the country.
3. Not making copies of your documentation
A paper copy of your passport, visa and airline tickets is needed, should you lose these essential documents. While many people photograph them and have it on their phones, this can be problematic if your phone is stolen, and the rate of theft of phones left idly on a coffee shop table is high. Better still, leave paper copies at home and give them to someone you trust who can email them to you should you need them.
4. Not figuring out Airport Transfers
Have you given yourself sufficient time between interconnecting flights? Some airports are huge, like Dubai, and these require a period of time to get between terminals.
5. Not knowing how to get from the airport to where you are going.
What time are you arriving? What airport transfers are available? Do they run all day and all night? I can answer this for you. No. Many places stop their transfer services between certain dark hours of the night. Many people do not have a game plan to get from the airport. This needs to be pre-organized in many cases.
6. Not Booking a Place to Stay – at least for the first night.
This seems a peace of mind decision. Knowing where you will stay on the 1st night gives a little breathing space and a safety net. There is nothing worse than standing in the middle of the airport and trying to make this decision. This is a mistake that can cost you a lot of money when you are too tired to think and go with this first offer of a place to lay your weary head. Inevitably it will cost you an arm and a leg and probably be in the remotest area from where you would have liked to be.
7. Not factoring in the different time zones when booking your trip.
This is one where we have been caught, with daylight saving hours kicking in and out at various times of the year. Check in advance because if you have made transport arrangements you may find that these don’t go entirely according to your plans.
8. Not Using RFID Protectors
This is a prevalent crime where thieves can electronically scan your credit card details and empty your account of all of your travel funds. Information can and is stolen electronically by Radio Frequency Identification and an RFID protected wallet made of particular blocking material, gives you some peace of mind, though is not entirely fool proof.
9. Not Calling Your Credit Card Company
Have you informed your credit card company and bank that they will see transactions being made from the backwaters of wherever? To the banks and credit cards credit, if they see unusual activity then they will cancel your card. This is good should someone have used RFID to get your money, but bad if it is you standing in the middle of Chian Mai hoping to get some money for your Thai lunch. Let them know where you are going and then they will know that it is more than likely a hungry you. Ditto, if you have been robbed, ring them immediately and have your card cancelled. Most will have a back-up plan to get you your lunch and lodgings, so check that this is included.
10. Not Checking Your Phone Plan
This is one that could cost you the family castle if you don’t check your phone plan. Ring your phone company and find out about international phone charges, and how much data usage will cost. Then check whether it is better to buy a local SIM card for the duration of your trip. Don’t forget there are other and sometimes cheaper ways of keeping in contact, like Skype and Viber…and even a postcard.
11. Failing to Research Local Transportation
Checking local transport is a significant problem as the price variations can be enormous. The last thing you want is to be wasting your travel time, figuring out the best and most affordable option to get around. Pre-plan or at least talk to local people who know what works best. Also be aware that train and bus stations often have different names to what you are expecting. The train to Ghent for example, is called Gand. Who would have thought?
12. Not Buying Health Insurance
We all know that we are infallible and that nothing will happen to us, and that health insurance is money in their pockets and not your travel account. Wrong. Hate to tell you but sometimes things do go amiss and you do not want to be paying out a huge amount in medical coverage or even worse, medical evacuation. Even more direr, for your family at least, is if you die overseas. Find out what happens if you die overseas, right here.
13. Not Setting a Budget
You need and must set a budget and then add 10% on top of that because not everything will go according to plan, and unexpected costs inevitably crop up. Make it 20% of your allocated budget and then if you are doing well, treat yourself to something fancy or start planning the next trip.
14. Not Joining an Airline Program
If you travel a lot why not get some benefits from it. Check out Airline Programs like the Star Alliance and the One World Alliance, which seems to cover the biggies, though there are probably others. Get some bang for your bucks spent.
15. Keeping All Your Money in One Place
This is a big consideration and one that also leads onto the next point, not looking like a tourist. Money belts can work for some people, but try not to make it obvious that you are wearing a money belt.
1) It says loud and clear – here is all of my money and probably my passport, just thought I’d help you out by making it as obvious as I possibly could, and
2) You look terrible. I keep my money in my bra though a Venezuelan friend has told me that this is the first place that Venezuelans will go for. How they do that, I have not ascertained. Keep money secure, in a zippered front pocket or in a thief proof packet or bag, but advertising is dumb.
16. Using a Currency Exchange or Money Changers
This is a lose-lose situation if you are changing money on the streets, as you will cop inflated exchange rates from some less than scrupulous operators. You could change at your hotel, which is marginally better and a lot safer, or use an ATM taking all precautions to be aware of your surroundings and careful with your pin number. Also, when pocketing the money you have withdrawn be discreet. You will need to pay a small transaction fee to your credit card company or the bank, but it is safer by a long shot.
17. Over packing
Yeh, yeh, we are all guilty of this but we are advocating the approach of fashion icon Coco Chanel who said, “before leaving the house, a lady should look in the mirror and remove one accessory.” Now with packing, remove more than one accessory and more than one of everything. Seriously pare down on what you think you need. Remember you can wash on the road, you can replace on the road. You can leave the kitchen sink at home. It is not a competition to look the most stunning; it is about practical solutions to walking a lot and exploring a new destination.
18. Looking Like a Tourist
When you wear a t-shirt, which screams that you are from somewhere, or that you have just visited anywhere iconic then it is obvious that you are not from these parts. It is obvious anyhow if you pull out a map or god forbid your GPS, but not shouting it from the rooftops seems prudent.
19. Not being aware of Local Customs
A little research on your destination will help you to understand some of the do’s and the don’ts in various countries that you visit. These are important to the local people, and it is a sign of respect as guests of the country that you try and adhere to these. Some countries require a more moderate dress code than Westerners on holidays are used to. Adapt. The sarong can be your greatest asset for covering a bare head and arms. Know whether PDA’s public displays of affection are frowned on and in many countries and they are, as is patting the head of a child or pointing.
20. Not being aware of Public Holidays
Not a biggie, but public holidays in some places, particularly smaller towns can render you incapable of eating or catching public transportation.
21. Trying to see and do too much
So many people see everything to prove that they have been somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you do not see everything that is iconic to a country. Take your time and get a travel balance going just as you strive for a work-life balance. Have that afternoon nap or get your feet massaged, but give yourself some down time to regroup and also to savour what you have seen and done.
Many people are not honest about their interests, likes, and dislikes. Have an honest talk with yourself about what you do actually want to see, and let serendipity have a free ride, and see what may come your way, especially things that you were not expecting and had not planned on. These make travel special and memorable.
Do You Make These 21 Travel Mistakes?
We sure have, but we think that we are now on top of it. As long as they don’t change the train station names, and they do, and as long as you realise that not everything is going to go totally according to plan, and you accept that this is ok.
I might! The primary travel mistake I make is not doing it enough.
At least you are honest.Making mistakes is something we all learn from, though sometimes I think I am a slow learner on some things.
Yes I think I made nearly all these mistakes when I was a solo backpacker many moons ago 🙂
I think we all have and I guess we still make some of them still.
Well I was certainly guilty of a few. Good, but gruesome idea to have a family discussion about what happens if you die overseas, especially because I often travel without them. Overpacking is getting better, but the RFID issue is now at the top of my list! Thanks for the tips.
Not nice discussions to have about passing away, but a necessary one. RFID’s are a good protection, just in case.
Great advice. I was guilty of #15, but learned that lesson well from bad experience. Still occasionally guilty of #21, but I enjoy traveling much more if we go slower rather than trying to do too much.
Slow travel is really enjoyable in many ways. Have a read of this, and see if it convinces you https://contentedtraveller.com/7-killer-reasons-to-slow-down-when-you-travel/
Good article, like you say in the text, when you are traveling with your family and there are many people, it’s very important to be comfortable when they go to the different place for this, book a transport company, with a vehicle that can take them whereverthey want and save yourself the worries
It is tempting to saki if the car drives itself, because while many people do choose to drive and that is a choice, others find it stressful and that is there choice. However send me a car and I will let you know how it goes.
I think I’ve made just about all of these mistakes…and finally learned my lesson on some of the most important ones. Am even getting better at packing, after years of over-doing it. However, despite my best efforts to be realistic in planning trips, #21 gets re-negotiated every time I arrive anywhere!
#21 – slowing down when you travel is one to work on. You will reap the benefits for sure, have a look at these reasons to slow it down and see what you think, https://contentedtraveller.com/7-killer-reasons-to-slow-down-when-you-travel/
What a great “before-you-go” checklist. Sometimes in the rush of preparing for a trip, one thing or another is forgotten.
It is true for all travellers, seasoned or not that sometimes we slip uo
I have definitely made some of these mistakes. Having a passport within less than 6 months of the expiry date comes to mind. I almost didn’t get into Malaysia, but I guess I looked okay so they let me by. I was lucky!
I think that this is one many people do forget. Lucky you looked ok.
A great list Paula for travellers to use as a checklist. We have been travelling for a long while now so we are getting better and better at ticking off these items. Even so, I always seem to overpack, even when I’m only travelling with a small suitcase. We have been lucky so far in travelling without a RDIF wallet…I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed as hubby won’t change his ways!
I think we all get the packing wring, but having heard so many stories of credit cards being electronically scanned and money taken, it might be worth a re-think or lower the amount on your credit card.
Great list! I am guilty of the following:
#12 not buying health insurance – I haven’t purchased any health insurance since the ’90s, but I do have some basic coverage with my credit card.
#13 not setting a budget – I used to always set a budget and compared how I did after the trip – usually I kept within budget or was just a little over. Now I don’t need to stick to a tight budget so I just wing it.
#21 trying to see/do too much…I have improved on this one a lot!
At least you are honest; I am just about the publish a post on slow travel to address #21
Looking forward to it Paula! I will be switching to slow travel mode in the fall with my long term road trip across USA/Canada. I will stay one month or so in each place.
I know you will enjoy slow travel and here is the post on why we need to https://contentedtraveller.com/7-killer-reasons-to-slow-down-when-you-travel/
Great list of travel tips. I’m pretty good with most of these, but still find myself overpacking!
Over packing is a perennial problem though I am getting better and better, except for the roll of dresses that I don’t wear.
I am guilty of trying to see and do too much. I can’t help it! Almost every place we go is so fascinating that I want to see, do, see, do. We have a much better time if we have an unscripted day or two to wander around at our own pace, and I can satiate my curiosity with things that may or may not be in the guides. Great list, Paula.
Thanks Betsy, while it is not always possible as you know as a fellow travel writer, we still advocate slow travel as the best way to experience a country.
So I do some of these and others I have learned not to do …the hard way! I still bring my kitchen sink, although I am working on it. The RFID is new to me and I think we need this. My husband travels to NYC a great deal and his AE number has been compromised 4 times in the last year. It’s very frustrating.
That’s awful for you husband. It is hard to stay ahead of the bad guys who all seem tech savvy.
Great tips on how not to have an enjoyable trip :-). When we first started traveling, we too wanted to pack it all in – see Europe in 3 weeks! Talk about exhausting, and more time in cars, trains, etc. than out and about exploring the towns and cities we’d flown so far to see. We now try to spend as little time as possible moving between places (or at least narrowing down our focus to just one country or part of a country).
Us too, it is much nicer to settle in and get a real feel of being a local. It is physically and mentally a much better way to travel, no matter what age. It is also financially much more viable as you are not spending lots of money getting here and there. Thanks you two.
The RFID wallet is interesting. My husband and i have worked on slowing down and have better trips for it, i think. We now schedule “free time” into most city days and find nearby “relaxing” destination if we can, say a beach day at one of the coastal areas near Charleston.
I think the key to having some free time is to stay very centrally. That way it is easy to get back to your accommodation and have a break.
#17!!! Every time I pack I am sure that THIS TIME I’ve got the balance just right. Not too much, but what I need. And every trip, halfway through, I find myself shouting in the general direction of my carry-on, “Why did I bring all this STUFF!” And every trip I carry less than the one before. I got home from 8 weeks in Europe two weeks ago and my shoulders are STILL complaining about the schlep!
Me too; I have the ‘just in case’ we get invited somewhere very important shoes and dress – we don’t. The just in case it turns freezing in the middle of summer winter gear. I am getting a lot better and one trip we took the one suitcase between us and I had exactly half and still didn’t need the 10 dresses that I rolled ever so tightly.
Definitely guilty of overpacking and forgetting to actually apply for a visa (even though I knew I needed one!)
I would also add forgetting to check which airport you’re flying out from, in cities that have more than one!
I think we all do the over packing, though the shifting airport is a great one. Thanks for the comment.
Very good summary.
And if some are (well, my modest opinion) basics, some (actually quite a few), yes: I do…
8. Not Using RFID Protectors – Honestly, what is that ?!? Never heard of this…
9. Not calling your credit card company… That can be really challenging if you cannot get money, especially if this happens on a Saturday morning!
15. Yes, sometimes you turn lousy and do such a thing… My method is always have 2 wallets, but sometimes I also make the mistake
17. Always! Very bad habit…
20. This can be terrible: experiencing nice rice terraces in China with millions of people from Beijing who only want to party all night long or not even finding an accommodation in Colombia… Yes, I made it. Check very carefully.
21. You always want to see to much… Me too!
I think that we all have made these mistakes in the past but hopefully not so much in the future. The seeing too much is problematic.
RFID protectors are wallets that stop scammers from lifting the magnetic code off your credit/debit cards and passport. I and some of my friends have been victims of the scam in New York. My credit card was in my little, thin shoulder bag, in an outside pocket. It appears someone went past me, probably with a scanning machine in a holdall, remotely ‘lifted’ my card details then withdrew a few cents a couple of times, then tried to withdraw a few thousand! Fortunately my bank was quick off the mark and stopped the transaction. I spoke with some immigration officers at a US airport who told me they keep their passports in RFID protective cases because of travellers who try to scam them! Advice from bank if you haven’t got one of these (easy to find, inexpensive) cases is to wrap your card in banknotes and keep closer to your body (ie, farthest from outside layers or pockets). I traced the scammer transactions to Rajhastan!
I totally agree. A friend had $3000 taken from her account electronically as she walked through the airport. They are inexpensive and totally worth it.
I think being aware of local customs should be higher on the list. Things like tipping, not expecting everywhere in the world to take U.S. currency. The minute I cross the border no one in the U.S. will take Canadian currency, so why should other countries accept U.S. dollars. Expecting things like water, sewer, toilets, traffic laws to be the same as “home”. Complaining when locals behave like themselves. Local time is local time. The speed at which things get done varies. Liquor and drug laws are very different, you need to educate yourself before leaving homw.
Totally agree, so many people take little time to understand the customs and culture and the practicalities of a country. I think I will write a check list on this as a reminder of the things you should know before hand.
Haha!! Glad that we’ve never made any of these 21 “common mistakes”! 🙂 But it’s good to see a post about this topic. We’ll certainly tell our friends to use this as a check list when they travel, since some of them often make these mistakes. Cheers! 😉
Thanks for sharing, we have made some of these at least once.
Hmmm. I apparently am not a good traveler after all, since I repeatedly make many of these mistakes!
You are a wonderful traveler and we all make some of these mistakes at one time or another.