Traveling is fun. However, if you don’t plan carefully and you ignore the important details of your trip, an exciting adventure may turn into a complete disaster. Check out these 12 common travel mistakes and learn how to avoid them.
- Your passport is expired. Many travelers do not mind their passports’ expiry only until they have been rejected at the airport check-in counter. Before booking an international flight, make sure that you have a valid passport that isn’t about to expire at least 6 months before your preferred travel date.Imagine if you just realized this while you are queuing for airline check-in!
- You arrive at the wrong airport terminal. Most countries have more than one airport terminal. Make sure that go to the right one to avoid missing your flight. A brief stopover at Berlin’s Tegel Airport made us realize the importance of this tip. We had to run towards the boarding gate at the correct terminal — amid the passenger inspection queues, security lines and German-speaking staff — just to ensure we made the outbound flight to Munich. If we missed it, we would have been unable to board the international flight to Beijing, which will give us much more trouble.Study the location of the airport and directions hours (or days) before going there. Many airports have websites, although not all of them provide detailed layout.
- You pack more than what you need. If something is unnecessary, leave it behind. Bring only the essential items that you will use during your trip. Extra pairs of shoes take significant amount of luggage volume for a week’s worth of travel while towels and hair dryers are provided at most hotels.Master the art of packing lightly. Learn the basics on how to pack lightly.
- You believe hoax fares and promos. Unless they are officially published by reliable travel companies, do not trust too-good-to-be-true travel deals. Fake links occasionally show up in Facebook or get into your mailbox or fax machines, and rogue ones range from nuisance to serious security issues.Others may have legitimate flights but are filled with tricks on top of advertised special deals. One might get a dollar for round-trip flights, but it’s front page offer didn’t mention you have to pay hefty tax, do not issue refunds or availability is severely restricted.It may be tempting to take the offer especially with the time-sensitive clause attached to it, but if you have doubts, please reserve time to deal with it. If you are interested in an ad, inquire first.
- You budget too little. Travel can be an expensive hobby, and costs not only reflect on airfare and hotel bookings. Airport transport, local food, and other extra expenses are bound to happen. Not preparing enough cash or credit card limit can doom an otherwise enjoyable leisure trip. (We think business travelers are well-covered with reasonable per diem allowance and expenses are mostly paid for by company account.)Read more about exchange rates, cost of meals, entrance to attractions and best way to save on subway day passes at reliable travel guide websites. But if all preparations fail, it is better to bring extra money than run out of budget. Make sure to plan all expenses first before traveling so you would know how much money you will bring.
- You book too late. It’s always better to book earlier than later. Flight fares and hotel prices usually become extra expensive the sooner your travel date comes. This is especially true for budget airlines. In some instances we noticed bigger players like Cathay Pacific charge lower for seats than Cebu Pacific on the same flight if booked close to scheduled travel.Plan accordingly and take advantage of early booking promos. Booking ahead has way more advantages than last-minute cram.
- You have no itinerary. Unless you are hiring a package tour complete with guides, itinerary is a must especially if you are traveling on tight schedule. Without planning ahead, a city visit may not cover its attractions most efficiently and chances are high you’ll miss out on must-go attractions or must-do activities.Arranging your schedule — landmarks to visit, how long to stay there and the upcoming attractions — all planned in logical order helps budget not only time but also arrange train, ferry or flight schedules and choosing hotel accommodations.Before getting on a plane, make sure that you have a comprehensive to-do and to-visit list. This should allow you to make the most out of your vacation.
- You rely solely on pre-made group tours and packages. While these would save you time and effort in creating your own, personalized itinerary, joining group tours are usually more expensive and do not give you the flexibility of going to your preferred destinations. We feel that getting lost in a foreign land is part of the adventure and group tours are more suitable for the elderly travelers, but it’s your choice.If you don’t mind, and have adequate time studying maps or navigating through a maze of subway connections on your own to save costs and experience the adventure, try the travel experience “off the beaten path” away from arranged tour groups. But please arm yourself with lots of patience, presence of mind and item number 7 (see above).
- You ignore hotel reviews and customer feedback. Does your hotel have shabby rooms and surly attendants? Not that review websites haven’t warned you of this disappointing experience. Many travelers choose to book hotels because they are close to metro stations or offer free airport transfers. Being close to metro stations could mean subject to noise (especially if your room is facing the road) or free airport transfers mean you have to wait an hour to be picked up, wasting precious time.When booking a hotel for the first time, it is important to read reviews from other customers.Websites such as agoda.com and tripadvisor.com offer unbiased reviews from customers based on their experience. These reviews would help you make a wise decision as to which hotel (or airline for that matter) to choose.
- You ignore transportation concerns. Missed out on last bus or didn’t realize the nearest train station is a good 15-minute brisk walk away? Travelers are often faced with such surprises when they fail to understand the intricacies of local travel.Study what modes of transportation are available and make sure that your hotel is near a bus or taxi stand for convenient touring. Or you have alternative ways to make up for that distance, in case you choose an accommodation not because of close proximity to transport links, but because it has great amenities.
- You leave travel documents behind. Certain immigration counters are more suspicious to certain travelers. You may call this racial profiling or another form of discrimination but it’s their call and at some point we need to abide by their rules. Officers may ask for extra documents like your return tickets or hotel booking on top of the standard passport requirement and a long stare on you.Bring your travel documents with you all the time, including passport, plane ticket, and valid ID. If anything happens, these documents will allow you to return home safely. Photocopies of valuable documents like passport, ticket or hotel voucher stored in another bag should ease the burden of possibly failing to claim all bags at the airport or losing them to burglars.
- You ignore insurance plans and policies. Weather disturbance, lost luggage or getting sick on the road are a nightmare to passengers. Unfortunately we do not know if we will experience them on our upcoming holiday trip. Travel insurance helps you put these concerns at ease.If you want to guarantee your safety during your travel, you may want to consider insurance plans.However, compare and weigh your options first as to which plan will provide you the most benefits. Also note that policies stated on the insurance you booked should be clear, and asking your travel agent or reading the fine print while waiting for your flight should give you more awareness on what to prepare in case of emergencies.