How many of us have made really costly travel mistakes in the past? Booked the wrong room, went on the wrong day, got your name wrong etc.
I’m pretty sure everyone has made these sort of travel mistakes at least once, and sometimes you don’t even know you’re making the mistakes. A lot of people don’t travel enough to ever get travel savvy by experience alone and that’s why these travel guides exist.
I’m going to shortcut your learning curve by giving you 15 common travel mistakes to avoid. Over half of all travellers make these mistakes, or so I read from another article. So save this to Pinterest and refer back to on your future trips to come!
These mistakes commonly cost you more money, more time and more stress. I learnt to not make these mistakes from travelling since a young age and then even more so once I started travelling alone.
Avoid these 15 travel mistakes and you’ll be ready to enjoy a cost effective, efficient and relaxing trip.
1 – Not buying tickets online
It’s a simple way to save you time and money by buying entrance tickets beforehand to attractions. Avoid the long lines by buying your tickets online instead of at the place. Popular tourist attractions have insane lines to just get tickets and the line to get tickets isn’t even the same line to get in!
Do yourself a big favour and google your attraction to find their website. Most places will sell entrance tickets online, which you can then print your tickets off and bring with you on the day.
The amount of time I saved from not needing to line up for hours upon hours while travelling Europe was a huge advantage. It allowed me more time to explore the rest of the city. But the biggest benefit from avoiding this travel mistake is it minimises your frustration.
We’ve all been there. The weather is hot, you’ve been lining up for more than an hour and the guy standing behind you is standing just a little too close for your liking. You’re tired, hot and probably a bit hungry. At this point you’re wondering if you even want to go see the attraction.
The whole situation just brings a damper to the day and that’s not the point of travelling! Avoid all of this with a little planning by buying your tickets online.
2 – Packing last minute
Sometimes life gets busy. There’s things to do at work, at home or just life admin getting in the way of you packing your bags properly. I get it. But this common travel mistake has often caused a lot of headache and a few extra dollars.
Packing in a rush leaves you disorganised and blind to the details. You find yourself stuffing your bag with clothes you might not need for your trip and failing to pack the essentials that you do need.
The common culprits would be your charger, a plug adapter, sunscreen, umbrella and other unsuspecting items. They’re easy enough to buy at your destination if you’re at a city location, but why make the same mistake again and again when you can avoid it all together.
It forces you to spend the afternoon hunting for a mundane item instead of exploring. It also costs you unnecessary money; money you could have spent elsewhere.
3 – Not doing any research
This is a lot more common than you’d think. A lot of people never sit down and do the basic research needed to enjoy their trip.
What do I mean by basic research?
I mean finding out the local weather while you’re there. Making sure your plans won’t be ruined by public holidays closing everything, or just closing times for sights and attractions you want to visit.
This is all basic information that can ruin your trip if you’re unlucky enough. But apart from these basics, you can also take it up a notch and find more information that will make your trip amazing.
Information on public transport, information on communication services, the phone numbers of emergency services and a few basic phrases in the local language to help you get by.
4 – Not bringing copies of your travel documents
I’m still guilty of this one because I always have a copy on my cloud. and have this attitude of easily accessing them if need be with the internet. However, I’ve had my fair share of scrabbling to get flight ticket files out at immigration a few times or finding a hotel reservation file etc. (Good thing most airports have free wifi at immigration points…but not all)
It’s always good to have a physical copy of your flight details, hotel or accommodation details, travel documents including visas and your travel insurance. You don’t know when you might need them, and when you do it’s always almost instantly.
So that idea you had in your head of whipping your phone out or printing it out is not the most fail-proof, stress-free idea you thought it was.
5 – Not getting your vaccinations
This travel mistake is often overlooked for the average traveller not trying to Indian Jones their holiday. Surprisingly not many people even talk about it.
I think most people have this idea that you get vaccinated for all the usual stuff as a kid and so there wouldn’t be any need for it when you’re older. But that’s far from the truth.
A lot viruses or diseases are not globally found and are only found in small pockets of places around the world. What your government outlines as mandatory vaccinations may not even be considered in another country. Vice versa.
It’s important to find out if you need any vaccinations to keep yourself safe while travelling. Just give your doctor a call and ask them, they’ll easily be able to answer you.
6 – Not preparing for jet lag
Jet lag sucks, and if you’re one of the lucky few that seem to be immune to it. Then congratulations, but if you’re not and you’re a normal person who likes sleeping at regular times. Jet lag sucks!
However you can easily minimise how severe your jet lag gets by doing a few small things before you arrive at your destinations. Severe jet lag occurs mostly when you’re going to a place with a big time difference to your origin place and so, you need to reset your time.
The best way to reset your time is to sleep through it or to power through it. The best time to start doing this is on the plane.
You’re going to be on a long haul flight and depending on which direction you’re flying in, you’ll want to try to sleep or stay awake for the whole flight. Change your time on your watch and start adjusting your schedule to fit the time at your destination.
Sleep and eat according to the local time, not the schedule your airline has planned for you. That means, you might want to sleep and not eat that meal or sleep and not binge watch 3 movies in a row.
In fact a great tip that works for me is to not turn your entertainment system on at all for long haul flights. I find myself sleeping better and adjusting my time more easily. It’s like going into hibernation mode. That also means you’d want to eat before flying and go to the washroom before take off.
7 – Unprepared for your flight
If you’re not flying business class, which most of us aren’t, then flying isn’t comfortable. I’m a small Asian female that always wonders what 6ft talk medium built men feel like sitting in economy.
I’m serious, the thought always passes my mind when I settle into my seat and stare at the front pocket where the duty free magazine is.
But people don’t complain because travelling to the other side of the world under 24 hours is a luxury.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t actively do things to make your flight experience as nice as possible. A lot of people ignore the flight part of the trip and this is a big travel mistake. The flight is the start and the end of all air travel trips so it pays to put a bit of thought into it.
Stay hydrated with plenty of water and bring moisturiser so your skin doesn’t dry out. Bring a sweater to stay warm in the cold cabins. Bring ear plugs or noise cancelling earphones to block out the engine sounds.
Dress comfortably and in comfortable sneakers. Dressing to impress is not your priority for a long haul flight. Bring a neck pillow to support your neck when you sleep and don’t forget your phone charger.
You can read my full detailed guide on how to pack the perfect carry-on bag for your next travel here.
8 – Arriving in the early hours
This is also another common travel mistake I’ve made in the past. Have you ever booked cheap flights feeling really happy with yourself but to only find it’ll force you to book an extra night at your hotel, or if you’re feeling adventurous explore your destination even when you’re tired from your flight?
A lot of cheap flights have odd hours and the biggest travel mistake is to not pay attention to your arrival time. Arrival times in the middle of the night at 3 am for example is going to make you stranded unless you’re ready to fork out some hard cash.
Many cities don’t have 24 hours public transport, forcing you to take a taxi into the city. And when you get to your destination, you’ll need to book an extra night to rest your head. The cost of a taxi ride and an extra nights stay is often far more than the amount you saved on your flight.
9 – You didn’t bring a first-aid kit
Yes, it’s uncool to be so responsible all the time, but when you’re in a new place for the first time with no contacts. Sometimes even finding the local pharmacy is a challenge. Make your travels that much nicer and worry free by preparing a basic first-ad kit to meet any small but unexpected medical needs.
I’m talking about band aids, pain medication, common cold and fever medication and of course diarrhoea medication if you’re an adventurous foodie.
I’ve fallen sick a few times while travelling and my handy first-aid kit was always enough to meet my immediate needs. Headache? Sorted.
Paper cut? I got you.
Allergies? Here, take this.
Make your first-aid kit to fit your own needs. I have sensitive skin and get rashes from random things now and again, so I always bring antihistamine pills with me, otherwise I’ll be swollen and itchy for most of my trips!
10 – Failing to search for discounts
There’s no excuse to not look for a discount. I’m not telling you to search deep and wide for it, because most of the time you shouldn’t need to. Instead all you have to do is google it and it’ll be on the first page of results. That’s right. It’ll be on the first page.
I use this trick so often that I always wonder why others don’t do it. Many attractions have discount days or special offers around the web for you to enjoy. That hotel, that car rental, that meal, that ticket. Eeverything. Well, almost everything and all you have to do is google it.
11 – Not bringing enough cash
Cash is still king in many places around the world, and even when it isn’t you don’t want to be paying for all those exchange rate fees. This means bringing cash is still the best option when you’re travelling and a lot of people make the travel mistake of not exchanging enough.
Sometimes this is okay because it’s actually better to exchange at your destination, but at other times you’ll see yourself paying a hefty price for this common mistake. A easy way to go around it is to exchange whatever you had in mind and then an additional sum of US dollars for backup.
US dollars is the easiest and most widely accepted currency in the world, you won’t have any problems exchanging your USD to your currency of choice. (Though there is a limit to this statement, some places only accept certain bills printed on certain years to ensure they aren’t fake) But more importantly you wont have problems exchanging your USD back to your original currency.
Some currencies aren’t largely accepted and you’ll find yourself having difficulty getting rid of what’s left over once you get back home. In fact I still have a lot of Vietnamese and Indonesian money because Hong Kong banks don’t accept them and the currency exchangers aren’t worth it.
That’s why you don’t want to bring too much cash either, especially if you might be stuck with it.
Instead, bring what you have in mind and then some USD for emergency. Credit cards as a last resort.
12 – Looking like a tourist when you shouldn’t
Looking like a tourist, or looking like someone who doesn’t know what they are doing is going to attract some unwanted attention. This is true for busy tourist cities, especially in Europe.
You stick out like a sore thumb and scammers hone in on you like a target. You’re distracted and a bit confused, perfect for a pickpocket, a dishonest taxi driver, a hustler trying to sell you something.
The number of times I’ve caught a pick pocket have their hand on my bag or even in my bag, or caught a taxi driver taking the long route is too often for me to ignore.
I try to never let up on my cluelessness, but being a young female traveller, a lot of people get an instant impression you’re an easy target. And if you don’t naturally look like an easy target then you can easily avoid most of this by looking clued in.
How do you do this?
Be more confident when you’re moving around, walk with purpose like you know where you’re going or everything is under control. Even better is to have data on your phone and use google maps. So you’re ACTUALLY clued in.
13 – Not educating yourself about the local culture
I’m hoping anyone reading this doesn’t fall into this category of traveller, but unfortunately a lot of people travel with some sort of expectation that the destination will follow the same norms of behaviour as the place they are from. It’s a bit absurd and I wonder why these people travel in the first place. But let me digress.
It’s always good to have some basic idea of what the local culture is like to understand what is acceptable behaviour, dress and manners. The worse thing is to come into confrontation with a local because of your ignorance, though in most cases people are very forgiving. Just not always.
Remember if the locals are forgiving, they are being nice, but if they choose to wise you up on your misbehaviour then it is their right.
Be respectful and keep your mind open by understanding everything is contextual in the world.
14 – Not knowing your hotel address or your country’s local embassy number.
Where you’re staying at a destination is going to be the place you’ll want to head back to if there’s any problems that occur. Unless of course you’re out on a day trip far away from your hotel. If you’re feeling sick, feeling tired or you forgot something, you’ll want to head back to your room. And the easiest way to do this is to have your hotel address with you at all times.
Public transport can take too long for your liking and local taxis, scooters etc might not understand English. Hand them your hotel address that’s written in the local language and you’re on your way.
Almost all places will have business cards located at the front desk. Take one when you’re checking in. Or take a few just in case you’re really good at losing things.
Another big travel mistake is to not find out where your country embassy is located. You will hopefully never need to call them, but it’s nice to know you have it, because just like tip 4. When you need it, you will not have wifi to google it.
15 – Leaving food in your fridge or countertop at home
Leaving perishable food in your fridge or home is a common travel mistake that many don’t even think about. If you’re going away for more than a week, you need to clear out your house of any food that’s going to spoil. If you don’t, well you’re going to find yourself cleaning while being jet lagged and tired from a long flight.
Not exactly what most people want to do.
Common culprits are bread, dairy and meats. Pop the meat in the freezer and everything else is going to need to be eaten. Put your jams and spread in the fridge as well to avoid finding an ant infestation welcoming you back. But the bigger mistake is to not think about your home before leaving for a holiday.
Make sure your windows are closed, doors are locked, no parcels are going to be delivered while you’re away etc.
Oh and don’t forget to sign-up to my newsletter for more of this stuff straight to your inbox. Scroll up to find my sign-up form on the right.
Other resources you should check out:
- Learn how I travel so often without having a job
- Learn my packing hacks to never forget anything on holiday while not packing the entire house with you
- Read about my trip to Perth and find out what that best things to do there are
- You don’t have to get on a plane to enjoy the world, learn how to be a travel and not just to travel
- Pack the perfect carry on bag