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.
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.
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!
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.
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!