Traveling should be fun, but it can also be stressful and costly if you make some common mistakes. Here are some tips on how to avoid them and enjoy your trip more.
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8 Common Travel Mistakes that Can Be Easily Avoided
One of the biggest traveling mistakes is overscheduling. Traveling is not a race, and you don’t have to see and do everything in one trip. You should not pack your itinerary with too many activities, you will just end up feeling rushed, stressed, and tired. (It will not feel like a vacation at all!)
I know how tempting it is to want to see everything and do everything, but you have to be realistic. Especially if you are traveling with kids, definitely take it easy or you are in for a stressful vacation!
So instead of jamming in 3 cities in one trip, prioritize and pick one city that interest you most and skip the ones that don’t. That way you leave room for exploration, relaxation and spontaneity.
And definitely don’t overschedule and sign up for back to back bus tours! You might have to wake up early, spend hours on a bus, follow a strict schedule, and not have enough free time to just wander and discover the place on your own.
Avoid overscheduling and choose the tours that match your expectations and needs. You should also balance them with some independent travel, and enjoy the freedom and flexibility of traveling at your own pace.
2. Not Checking the Baggage Weight Limit
Not checking the baggage weight limit is another travel mistake that can easily be avoided. You should always check the baggage weight limit of your airline before you travel. Otherwise, you might have to pay a hefty fee for overweight luggage. Airlines charge $100 or more for extra weight!
I know this from personal experience. During a family trip to Orlando, we were overweight with one luggage and under packed another one. So, in the middle of the airport, I was rearranging my stuff, moving items from one luggage to the other. It was really stressful. Now, I always bring a portable luggage weight scale with me. It helps me avoid overweight luggage.
3. Not Knowing the Danger of the Place
Another travel mistake that you should avoid is not knowing the danger of the place you are visiting. Traveling can be risky, especially if you are not familiar with the place you are visiting.
You could encounter crime, violence, terrorism, natural disasters, or other threats. You should not wander around without knowing the safety situation of the area. You could end up in a dangerous neighborhood, a conflict zone, or a crime hotspot.
Pickpockets, scammers, and kidnappers might target you as well. For instance, I once traveled from Paris to Rome by Eurail with my kids. It was an overnight train, and we forgot to lock our cabin. Someone stole our cash while we slept! So please, always be careful and vigilant when you travel. I suggest using slash-proof bags like this anti-theft cross body bag because the strap and bag are slash-resistant and there is also RFID blocking so your card information is safe from identity thieves.
You should also check the travel advisories from the US Department of State, it ranks cities by the level of travel safety and will warn you of any danger or issues in that destination.
4. Not Checking in Online
Checking in online can save you time and hassle at the airport. You can avoid long lines, choose your seat, and print your boarding pass or download it to your phone.
You can also drop off your luggage faster, or skip it altogether if you only have a carry-on. You should check in online as soon as possible, usually 24 hours before your flight.
5. Not Arriving to the Airport Early Enough
A major travel mistake that can be easily avoided is getting to the airport early. Being late to the airport can ruin your trip. You could miss your flight, or not be able to check in your luggage.
Most airlines stop accepting luggage 30 to 45 minutes before departure. You might also encounter extremely long lines at security and immigration which will result in you missing your flight.
To avoid missing your flight, you should get to the airport at least two hours before your scheduled departure time. For peak seasons and international flights, make it three hours. And if you have kids, give yourself extra time.
Nothing is more stressful than running with kids in a large, sprawling airport, trying to catch your flight! Trust me, I know from personal experience!
6. Not Checking the Flight Information
Not checking the flight information is another travel mistake that you can easily avoid. Flight information can change at any time, due to weather, delays, cancellations, or other factors.
You should not rely on your original itinerary, or assume that everything is on schedule. Before you head out to the airport, always check the flight information and make sure it is running on time and not delayed or canceled.
I once showed up at JFK airport for my flight to Paris only to find out that there was a major Paris Airport strike and all flights in and out of Paris were canceled! I could have avoided this if I had checked online to make sure the flight is on schedule before taking an Uber to the airport. Instead, I wasted half a day and $250 for my round-trip Uber to and from the airport!
7. Not Counting Your Luggage
You should always make sure that you have all your luggage with you before you leave your home, your hotel, or your transportation. You don’t want to leave behind any of your bags.
I learned this the hard way when I left one of my bags at home when we were in a hurry to catch an Uber to the airport. It turned out to be my roller luggage, so I had no clothes for the trip. I had to buy everything I needed during the trip, which was expensive and inconvenient. It was a nightmare. I wish I had counted the luggage and made sure we didn’t leave any behind.
Learn from my mistake, you should always count your luggage and bags!
8. Not checking your Phone Plan
Using your phone abroad can be very expensive if you don’t have a suitable plan or a local SIM card. You can rack up huge bills for roaming charges, data usage, or calls and texts.
To avoid this, you should check your phone plan before you travel and see if it covers your destination or if you can get a cheaper plan. You can also use free Wi-Fi, messaging apps, or VoIP services to stay connected without breaking the bank.
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