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24 Common Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

It is common to make a few careless mistakes when traveling and exploring the unknown. But sometimes these mistakes can turn your trip into a disappointing and money-wasting experience.

Here are 24 of the most common travel mistakes. Let’s hope these tips can help you avoid falling victim to these boo-boos.

1. Having an over-ambitious itinerary

Instead… Be flexible; don’t be afraid to change your plans due to weather or money shortage. Be aware of the time it takes to get from “A” to “B” (not by distance, but by travel method: car, bus, train, etc).

Factor additional time for possible delays as well as extra time to rest. Remember, you don’t need to see the whole country in one visit; planning to do so will make you feel unaccomplished.

Having an over-ambitious itinerary
Travel Mistake number 1

2. Overpacking

Instead… Pack only what you need and know you’ll use, not what you think you’ll use. Buy the rest at your destination (possibly at a fraction of the price).

Once fully packed, review everything you have and try to reduce the load a little bit more. Check out 15 things you don’t need to pack to avoid carrying that extra weight.

3. Blindly trusting the first directions you get from a local

Instead… Cast a broad net of directions. Ask more than one person for directions to the same place.

If the person hesitates or looks up like searching for an answer, kindly accept their help and look for additional help at the next street. Go with the general consensus.

4. Relying totally on Guide Books

Instead… Guidebooks are made to inform your travels, not to define them. Put the guidebook down and interact with other travelers and people at the destination.

Allow yourself to explore and use on your own initiative; there is a lot more to a place than what is in any guidebook.

Applebee Travel
Rely on you're own judgement when traveling

5. Forgetting the budget and running out of money

Instead… You should consider your budget as a way to experience the place more creatively and more authentically, not as a restriction. Create a realistic budget you can stick to and allow some breathing room for unexpected expenses.

If traveling long-term, schedule weekly transfers from your savings to your checking (like a paycheck), so you know exactly what you are allowed to spend.

6. Not backing up pictures and losing them due to a stolen camera or virus

Instead… Backup your pictures on a USB drive or cloud storage like iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive on a regular basis.

Or host them online on sites like Google Photos, Flickr, and EyeEm, to name a few, or at your own blog’s FTP. This mistake is very heartbreaking (from my own experience!), so it’s best to avoid it.

Your memories are one of the most valuable things you get from your trips. If possible, back up more than once.

7. Booking flights with a short layover, thus, missing your connecting flight

Instead… Give yourself at least a couple of hours between flights to allow for any possible “delay” scenario (flight delay, long customs line, long distance between terminals, etc.).

For example, Philadelphia airport states to arrive at the airport 2 hours before a scheduled flight departure.

When it comes to booking flights, I recommend using WayAway. They also offer their WayAway Plus membership, which helps you find the cheapest flight and offers cashback (deposited straight into your PayPal).

But additionally, they offer premium support where local experts help you navigate all these logistics like how long of a layover you need at this or that airport, where to stay in X city, what are the best restaurants at your destination, or which documents are needed to get a visa for X country, etc.

8. Not double-checking your documents and bookings for errors

Instead… Double-check your documents and reservations for everything from hotels, flights, trains, buses, etc.

Always corroborate the time and location, and make sure they are scheduled correctly. Also, check that your name is correctly spelled on your flight reservation.

9. Not Buying Insurance

Instead… Spending those extra few dollars will give you the benefit of feeling more secure in case something happens (lost baggage, trip delay or cancellation, medical emergency, etc.).

Read the fine prints to see what is included and if it suits your needs. You can learn more about travel insurance here.

10. Not notifying the bank of future foreign transactions

Instead… If you want to avoid having your debit card canceled due to “unusual activity”, notify the bank beforehand of all the countries you will be visiting so they know it’s you who’s using the card.

Plus, many international banks have foreign branches and joint ventures that will forfeit their ATM fees.

11. Not factoring in the different time zones when booking your trip

Instead… Corroborate the different time zones between places “A” and “B,” how long it takes to get there, and how many time zones you are crossing. Factor this into your reservations’ scheduling.

Also, consider the possible effects of jet lag during your first days, or better yet, learn how to prevent jet lag

Applebee Travel Agency
Plan, plan, and then plan again when traveling

12. Not making copies of important documents

Instead… Have a hard copy of your documents (passport, IDs, travel insurance policy, credit cards) with you, and a digital copy safe (if possible, as a password-protected .pdf) on a “secret” email account you can easily access.

In case of losing your original documents, copies facilitate your identity verification and quicken the renewal process.

13. Making large currency exchanges before leaving home

Instead… Exchange just enough to cover you until you get to the first ATM or good-rate exchange kiosk at your destination. Or, withdraw money from an ATM right when you get there, but don’t use the airport exchange kiosks. They have horrible rates and fees.

14. Arriving at the wrong airport

Instead… When traveling in big cities that have more than one airport, double-check your reservation to corroborate which is the correct airport and correct terminal. Trust me; this mistake could cost you a lot.

15. Sticking to the tourist trail

Instead… Dare to explore outside the commonly done and seen. Create your own unique experiences; don’t just follow what others have done.

Go off the beaten path, often time the best experiences and the biggest opportunities are hidden there.

16. Tempting pickpockets with flashy items

Instead… Use common sense and don’t expose your valuables. In fact, if you don’t need them, don’t wear them. As for DSLR cameras, laptops, and expensive gadgets; carry them with you, hidden in a locked pack, and use them as necessary.

17. Being culturally insensitive

Instead… Try to understand the culture and the surrounding in which you are traveling. Having an open mind will help you blend better, enjoy and absorb the culture in a more interactive way, and avoid insulting them unintentionally.

18. Having all your money in a single place

Instead… Don’t put all your “eggs” in the same basket. Avoid carrying too much cash and store it in various “safe” places.

19. Not knowing the hidden foreign charges in your credit card

Instead… Call your bank to make sure what the transaction fee for foreign purchases is.

Keep in mind, even when foreign companies charge you in your normal currency (i.e., US dollar), they still can charge the “foreign transaction” fee. This page explains more about the best credit cards for travel.

20. Not doing research

Instead… Avoid arriving at a destination and not knowing what to do by at least doing a small Google search. Get information about possible things to do and the interesting history of the place.

The more research you do in advance and the more you know; the more chances you have to enjoy the place.

21. Drinking too much

Instead… Drink in moderation and find other ways to relieve stress and have fun! Drinking too much will not only suck all your money, but it will also put you at a higher risk of getting robbed or injured.

22. Ignoring local’s advice

Instead… Pay attention to what locals say; put into consideration and evaluate their advice. Who knows, maybe their advice will save you from getting robbed or help you save a couple of dollars here and there.

Applebee Travel
Stay calm when traveling

23. Getting angry at the foreign country

Instead… Even if you had a lousy time and were not treated as expected, consider it as part of your experience and learn from it. Sure, express your frustrations if you need to, but remember, you are a guest in that country.

Just because they don’t do things the way you’re used to doesn’t mean that they are wrong. Practice patience and tolerance.

24. Having unrealistic expectations

Instead… If something goes not as planned, go with the flow. Have realistic expectations, and don’t expect your trip to be perfect.

Better yet, don’t create an image of expectation and arrive with a fresh and open mind that will help you accept things as they come.

If you fall victim to any of these mistakes, don’t get disappointed. Keep enjoying your wanderings and use them as a learning experience.

Hey, I’ve made most of these mistakes, if not all of them, but they have helped me grow and learn as a traveler and person.

Which mistakes have you made?

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