Whether it’s your first trip abroad or you travel several times a year, we all make mistakes that can cause headaches or possibly even ruin your trip. The good news is that with a little planning, it’s easy enough to avoid some of the most common travel mistakes so you can spend your time enjoying your vacation.
10 Biggest Travel Mistakes & How to Avoid Them
It’s tempting to bring outfits for every possible occasion, but it makes it difficult to haul your luggage around, and you may get stuck with high baggage fees for accidentally exceeding the weight limit. Instead, pack your bag as usual, then take out half the clothes you originally planned. You won’t wear all of them, you don’t have to sacrifice style, and you can always do some laundry on the road.
For more packing tips, visit these guides:
2. Not Checking Your Cell Phone Plan
It’s important to know what your plan covers to avoid data roaming fees. Not covered? Turn off your data before you get on the plane and leave your phone in airplane mode (you’ll still be able to connect to wi-fi). If data is important to you, look into buying an international plan or buying a local SIM card once you arrive.
Alternatively, for Americans, consider T-Mobile as your carrier. We now get free data in 200 countries and it has literally changed the way we travel. (Note: We have no affiliation with T-Mobile and we pay for our own monthly plans.)
3. Not Booking Enough Time in Between Flights
Flight conditions can be unpredictable. If one gets delayed, you might be forced to rush through an unfamiliar airport to make your connecting flight, and you might not make it in time. It’s best to book them with a safe buffer in between. If you are traveling through Heathrow in London, plan for at least a two-hour layover here since you have to go through security just to get from one flight to another.
4. Not Grabbing Some Local Currency at the Airport
As soon as you leave the airport, you’ll need local currency to take public transportation or cab rides in many countries. Taking out money from the airport’s ATMs gives you better exchange rates, so get what you need there, and maybe a little extra for emergencies.
We use our credit card whenever possible, but we always keep cash on hand. Visiting local markets is a must when we travel — and many of these places don’t accept credit cards.
5. Not Informing Your Credit Card Company of Your Travel Plans
Credit card companies flag foreign transactions in case of credit card fraud and may freeze your account, so be sure you inform your company ahead of time. While you’re at it, find out if they charge a foreign transaction fee, so there are no surprises.
6. Not Buying Travel Insurance
Travel insurance covers cancellation fees, so if you unexpectedly can’t make your vacation or business trip, you won’t be out hundreds of dollars. Some plans also cover emergency medical expenses if your own health insurance plan doesn’t cover you outside your country. (We use World Nomads.)
7. Not Checking Visa Requirements
Being turned away at a foreign checkpoint will be expensive, time-consuming, and possibly put an end to your trip. There are several websites that list visa requirements for different countries, like this one, so find out ahead of time. For more tips for traveling abroad, visit our checklist for overseas travel.
8. Packing Too Many Activities or Countries Into One Trip
This limits your opportunities. You’ll be too busy to find hidden gems or follow up on tips from locals, and the hassle of so much travel can be stressful. Make sure you give yourself some time to relax and soak up the best of what each destination has to offer.
9. Not Keeping Track of Your Reservation Details
It’s an unnecessary hassle to have to rummage through your bags for your itinerary, and you might not have access to a printer for another copy if you lose it. If you can, keep your itinerary in its own pocket of a bag or keep an electronic copy on your phone.
10. Not Keeping Your Valuables Safe
Theft is the last thing you want to deal with, so avoid having your cash, electronics, or other valuables stolen by purchasing anti-theft bags and by keeping them with you whenever possible.