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Top Travel Mistakes & How to Avoid Them: Part 2

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I’m declaring this week Travel Mistake Week here at TWG. Sure, it might be way more fun to talk about all the room upgrades we score, the elite status benefits we enjoy, or the deal for flights that DIDN’T get away, but let’s face it, we’ve all made a bunch of mistakes. So let’s air them and have some fun laughing at ourselves and commiserating with each other.

Most Common Mistakes

No matter how much we plan or how well we assume we’ll carry out those plans, there’s always a lot that’s not under our control. I started asking around and found that some travel mistakes are more common than others. And some people agree on how best to avoid those mistakes, but not always. Based on my own experience as well as that of many other frequent travelers, here are the mistakes and how to avoid them. There are so many of them I’ve actually made this a 3 part series!  Read Part 1.

Not printing the details

I’m pretty conservative when it comes to printing paper, but there are still times when I do. It’s not that I don’t trust technology. Particularly when traveling alone, I just feel better knowing that I have paper copies of some items.

Spending all your time in transit

I learned this lesson when I took an overnight sleeper train in Europe. It was so great to be able to sleep on the train and then wake up the next day in my next location. It makes good sense not to spend the main parts of the day transiting from one location to the other when you’d rather be out seeing the sites. If it’s possible, traveling early in the day or later in the evening makes more sense. Of course, if the transit trip is part of the experience, then daytime hours can lead to some amazing scenery. It just helps maximize your days when they aren’t filled with being at airports, train stations, or on buses.

a man pushing a girl on a luggage bag

Image source: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/chronicles-amateur-traveler

Not having the right credit card

Many credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee. Those fees add up! Get a card or two without foreign transaction fees.

Paying for rental car insurance

Always check to see whether your credit card or your own car insurance covers rentals. Often coverage is on a country by country basis, so check this as well. There is no need to pay for unnecessary car insurance, but you must do your homework. It pays, literally, to know the answer as to whether or not you’re already covered.

Paying for rental car damage

Pre-checking a vehicle seems to be the car rental company norm these days. So make your norm a defensive one. Take your own photos of the car and make notes if you see any damage. These kinds of steps help you avoid any hassle later on.

a close up of a car

Image source: http://rentalcarreviews.com/blog/how-to-avoid-being-charged-for-pre-existing-damage-to-your-rental-car

Setting expectations too high

It’s a challenge to travel without any expectations at all. We’ve spent money, time, and energy to make travel happen and we want a return on that investment. But I find that people who set their expectations too high often spend more time being disappointed than enjoying their trip. Sure, hotels, restaurants, and sites can all be misrepresented online, so best to keep your expectations modest. Then you can be pleasantly surprised!

a group of people in a museum

Image source: https://whyaminotthere.com/2015/06/24/tourist-hell-mona-lisa-at-the-louvre/

Too tight connection time

I don’t know too many people who haven’t made this mistake. It’s a biggie and can have you sprinting and sweating, or spending the night in the airport having missed your flight. It’s tempting to do because as I mentioned before, spending too much time in airports isn’t much fun compared to being at your destination and enjoying the sites. But all you have to do is test this once and have it backfire on you and you’ll never schedule a tight connection again.

Packing liquids and other valuable “no-nos” in your carry-on

You would think everyone is aware of these restrictions by now. I once forgot to remove my small Swiss Army knife from a carry-on. That was a hard lesson to learn. Pay attention to your carry-on items so you don’t have to forfeit them.

a close-up of a sign

Image source: https://www.luggagepros.com/travel/tsa-liquid-carryon-rules.shtml

Hanging your purse or backpack on a chair in a restaurant

I don’t think I’m paranoid, but I’m always aware of where my backpack is. Even at home, it’s a good practice not to hang valuables off the back of a chair in a restaurant. I once saw a guy lose his camera bag like this.

It’s true that mistakes can mean learning the hard way. But it’s the learning that’s important! Have you made any of these mistakes I mentioned in this post? How do you avoid them? Let me know in the comments. Stay tuned for more travel mistakes and how to avoid them!

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8 thoughts on “Top Travel Mistakes & How to Avoid Them: Part 2

  1. Beth

    I don’t know if this qualifies as a “top” travel mistake, but it certainly happens. A few years ago I was sitting in an outdoor cafe in Rome, with my chair adjacent to the sidewalk/walkway (it was actually more like a cobbled alleyway…totally charming. In any case, I was casually scoping through the photos I’d taken that day, holding my phone lightly in my hand. The last thing I expected was a thief to come running right alongside my table, snatch my phone out of my hand, and keep running. If this happens (especially on a crowded street), the thief can abscond quickly into the crowd and be gone, phone and all.

    1. Shelli Post author

      Sorry to hear this , Beth. Rome has one of the worst reputations for this sort of thing. Thank you for taking the time to share what happened to you and hope you had most of your photos already downloaded.

  2. bluecat

    My biggest pet peeve: Not disconnecting.

    So many people are treating their travels as a new place to take a selfie, a new place to post a look-where-I-am pic, or (sorry) a reason to blog….rather than a place to experience a new culture.

    I would say the number one way to try to improve any trip would be to put away the phone/camera and just *be* in the place. (Easier said than done…I’d love to hear from readers that could pull that off.)

    1. Shelli Post author

      Good point! And I am in 100% agreement. Not using a phone and not taking too many photos makes the experience really different. I keep my camera in my backpack so I have to think twice about do I really want a photo before taking my camera out. That helps me stay present. Thanks for connecting, BC, to remind us to disconnect :)

  3. Steve

    Shelli – two thoughts about rental cars:
    Insurance – credit card coverage can be a sticky situation. Most credit card supply secondary coverage which kicks in after your primary policy has been billed. There are third-party insurance companies like travel guard and allianz that provide primary coverage at a lower cost than what the car rental rep wants to charge you.
    Photos – always take photos of the car you are turning back in. All you need is to have their parking lot jockey peel out and dent the car you just returned only to get a bill in the mail for damage that you didn’t do.

    1. Shelli Post author

      Good points, Steve, especially about the third party rental companies. I have never had an issue, which given all my travels is amazing. I have gotten more defensive about taking photos of my rental cars because of all the stories I hear about situations you described. Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment.

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