Traveling requires a lot of planning and preparation, and you’re bound to make some travel mistakes while doing it. It will lead you to the most difficult experiences that you’ll get from life. Difficult, yet so rewarding.
Realistically, you can ever be completely ready when traveling into the unknown. Every trip and destination will teach you a unique set of lessons that you couldn’t have possibly planned for. But you can educate yourself beforehand to avoid some common travel mistakes.
I’ve traveled for a while now and I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly. My travel mistakes cost me time, money and my peace of mind. I hope that these 10 travel mistakes that I’ve personally made, will help you avoid falling victim to them yourself.
1 of 10 Travel Mistakes: I didn’t check my information before booking my ticket
This happened to me when I booked a short trip from Istanbul to Sarajevo. It was really late that night and I had accidentally booked a flight for the wrong day. My heart almost stopped because my ticket was non-refundable and booked through a third-party website. Luckily, I caught the mistake immediately after receiving my e-ticket and was able to get it fixed.
Always double or triple check the information that you use to book your plane tickets. Mistakes are easy to make when you’re tired or in a rush. Check the information on the e-ticket that’s sent to you via email as soon as it’s sent to you. Most airlines will let you cancel or change your flight free of charge within the first 24 hours.
2 of 10 Travel Mistakes: I was late at checking-in to my flight online
I’m usually great at checking-in early enough to get my desired seat. But there was this one time when it completely slipped my mind. The third-party website I booked through didn’t send me an email reminder. Checking in last-minute, I got stuck in a middle seat at the back and unfortunately beside the washrooms.
Avoid this by paying for a seat when you first book your flight. Or if you don’t want to pay, you can set your own reminder on your phone to check-in on time. If you’re flying a long distance, you’ll want to get a seat that’ll make you feel most comfortable.
3 of 10 Travel Mistakes: I booked a connecting flight with a short transit time
Twice… The latest was on my way back from Hawaii. My flight got delayed from Maui to LAX where I was connecting back to Toronto. Not able to get to the gate on time, I had missed the flight by a few minutes. Oops.. Sleepless, I spent the entire night at LAX airport.
Sometimes the flights with short connection times are the cheapest options. But you’re taking a risky gamble. Short transit times can really hurt you if your first flight gets delayed. Working out the inconveniences of flight interruptions can cost you more money and time.
4 of 10 Travel Mistakes: I over-packed
For my 20 day trip to Turkey, I had over-packed and checked in a really heavy bag. On this trip, I had moved around to 4 different hotels. It was a hassle having to lug my heavy luggage up steep cobble stone streets and many flights of stairs. 4 times…
Avoid this mistake by packing light… always. Lugging around heavy luggage will make your experience less enjoyable and more tiring. This is one of the major reasons why I never over-pack or check in luggage anymore.
5 of 10 Travel Mistakes: I booked a red-eye flight home having to go into work the same morning
Coming home from a trip 2 hours before going into work, I vowed to never do it again. Needless to say, I couldn’t keep my head straight because I was still on European time.
To avoid this, book a flight that arrives in the evening on the last day of vacation. Going into work exhausted on your first day back from vacation is never a good idea. Or worse, your flight could get delayed an you’ll miss a whole day of work. It’s unfair to yourself and your employer.
6 of 10 Travel Mistakes: I didn’t research the climate
I had done my research on the forecast, but I neglected to do research on the climate in Morocco. January is generally cooler and the temperatures drop to 0 Celsius in the desert. Unaware of this, I had packed lightly and had to pull a last minute shopping trip while I was there.
If you’re not planning on shopping, expect the unexpected and pack accordingly. Don’t just look at the forecast, research the geographical climate. If the air is drier where you’re going, it could mean that its generally cooler or hotter than expected. The temperature never feels the same in any two geographical areas.
7 of 10 Travel Mistakes: I didn’t pack an extra set of clothing into my carry-on luggage
This mistake was made in my early and inexperienced days as a traveler. I was heading for a 2 month trip to Bosnia and Croatia. I thought it would be smart and easy to pack everything into my checked suitcase. That’s when it happened to me for the first time. My luggage got lost and arrived 4 days later. Luckily, my cousin let me borrow from her while I waited for my luggage to arrive.
If you absolutely have to check your luggage, always pack a few items into your carry-on. Try to prepare for unexpected flight interruptions whenever you’re traveling. You’ll save yourself the stress and hassle of having to go shopping or borrowing from someone else.
8 of 10 Travel Mistakes: I wore impractical shoes at airports and on airplanes
Wearing heels is like second nature to me, but not in airports and on planes. I grabbed my favourite pair of stilettos for my last business trip to Vancouver and a 5 hour flight. By the time I boarded the plane, my feet were already sore. The inevitable swelling from the plane ride only made the pain worse. I had to switch into flats for my meeting because I couldn’t handle it anymore.
I hope you’re not going to consider this any other time other than for business. If you want to wear heels, put them on after you get off the plane. Bring them as a spare pair of shoes in your carry-on. Help yourself and always do all your traveling in flat shoes.
9 of 10 Travel Mistakes: I didn’t check my mobile phone plan
This was one very expensive mistake. I had an international roaming plan but it didn’t cover roaming in Cuba. I had used my data only a few times, altogether about 2 hours of my 7 days there. When I returned, I had received a $400 bill from my service provider.
Always look into your international mobile plan to confirm your coverage in the area you’re going to. Just because you pay for international roaming, doesn’t mean that it covers you in all countries. Another option is to buy a local ‘pay as you go’ sim-card for your trip. This works out better and cheaper in many cases depending on your destination and length of your stay.
10 of 10 Travel Mistakes: I didn’t do my research on local traffic laws when I rented a car abroad
Another expensive mistake that I made with my brother in Spain. We didn’t know about the hidden cameras along the highways. The rental company didn’t inform us ahead of time. Sadly, we came home to 3 speeding tickets in the mail, 150 euros each for speeding over 20 km.
Do your research online or ask the rental company if there are any traffic laws that you need to know about. Don’t assume that the rental company is responsible for telling you. They do sometimes, but not always. The last thing you want is trouble with the law over speeding.
If you experience any of these 10 travel mistakes or similar ones, don’t worry! The more mistakes you make, the more experience you’ll get as a traveler. They will help you grow and make you wiser abroad. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve made any of these or others that you’d like to share!
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