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Authored by Daniel Hogan

Whether you’re traveling for the first time, or you’re an adventure fanatic, we all make blunders that can ruin our trip. According to research, over 30 percent of adventure travelers report being disappointed with their experience, but this is usually due to silly mistakes that could have been avoided.

Many people think that they are too savvy to fall for the following mistakes, but with so many decisions to make, and so much organization, slip ups are inevitable at some stage; after-all, we’re all human!

So we’ve put together a list of the most common travel mistakes, and how to avoid them. You might be surprised at how many of them you’ve made!

7 Common Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Hidden Costs

So you’ve booked your trip and budgeted for the adventure, having set aside some extra cash for spending while you’re away. But when you arrive at your destination, your budget starts falling apart.

You realize you forgot to cater for additional costs like tipping your tour guide, the hotel’s resort fee, and perhaps you didn’t realize that the airline charged bags separately.

Travel comes with many hidden costs, and it’s very easy to blow your budget if you’re unaware of these. These can be as simple as having to pay for water at the airport gate (they confiscate your liquids at security), forgetting you have to pay for hotel parking, or not realizing that you have to pay gratuities.

You can avoid this by asking questions before you book, reading the fine print of a reservation, and making sure you’ve done a thorough job of budgeting out your itinerary. And it never hurts to travel with some money set aside for “in case of a rainy day”.

Travel comes with many hidden costs, and it's very easy to blow your budget if you're unaware of these. Click To Tweet

Pexels Money

Traveling Without an Insurance Policy

If you can’t afford to pay for travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel.

A travel insurance policy is the most important thing to have before going on a trip; it’s one of those things that you never want to understand the value of but, if you have to, you don’t want to regret having brushed off its importance.

And it doesn’t matter if you’re traveling for a week, a year, or even just a day, the fact is, you never know what could happen.

Having an international travel insurance policy which covers health and medical is absolutely essential. But a good policy will also cover you for things like trip cancellation, lost luggage, or emergency evacuation.

Before embarking on your journey, research your options and choose a travel insurance policy. If you never have to use it, that’s fabulous, but if you do, unplanned situations can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.

If you can't afford to pay for travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel.Click To Tweet

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Failure to Research Airport Transport

Although it may not sound as important as having a travel insurance policy, failing to check the accessibility of transport from the airport on arrival can become really expensive.

It’s normal to assume there will be an information counter once you get to your destination, but depending on the place you’re visiting and the time you set foot on the new destination, there may or may not be someone there. So it’s absolutely essential to research this before you travel.

For instance, in many South American countries tourists are constantly ripped off (and sometimes robbed) by taxi scams, and it can be difficult to figure out which transport is legitimate if you don’t already know that you need to head to the blue counter before the exit.

In Melbourne, Australia, the airport is a good 50 minutes away from the city (depending on traffic), and it’s actually cheaper to rent a car for a weekend than pay for a taxi both ways (though there’s a cheap city bus too). So make sure you do your research.

#Travel tip: failing to check the accessibility of transport from the airport on arrival can become really expensive.Click To Tweet

Airport

Misplaced or Lost Luggage

Unfortunately, lost or misplaced luggage seems to happen too often especially at the airport. In fact, research shows that over 6 percent of luggage in airports doesn’t reach its destination.

Although it takes time for the luggage to be retrieved, 9.9 times out of 10, it’s found and returned to you within 24 – 48 hours. But what do you in the meantime? Imagine misplacing your entire tactical backpack, clothes, travel documents, etc. It’s often a massive inconvenience.

While you only have limited control over something the airline is responsible for, you can mitigate the risk by carrying your essential items (electronics, medications, travel documents), as well as a spare change of clothes in your carryon. Or you could avoid the potential of lost luggage completely by only traveling carryon!

Make sure that you have tags on your bag which clearly list your name and contact details (phone number, email, address), and it’s a lot easier to identify your bag if it’s unique – try telling the airline agent that they’re looking for a bag which is “black”.

A good tip too is to make sure you have plenty of time between your connecting flights. You might be able to run to the next gate with 20 minutes to spare, but your bag has to get off the first plane and onto another one in that time too. Short connections are a major contributing factor to luggage being left behind.

How to completely avoid the airline losing your luggage? Pack light and travel with only carryon!Click To Tweet

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Being Unaware of Thieves and Scams

Cons and scams operate in every city, and naive and trusting travelers are often a favorite target. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to get mugged when you visit Europe, but if you’re traveling in a new environment, you need to research common travel scams, and be aware of your surroundings.

Whether it’s a person with beautiful eyes posing as a beggar, a waitress offering a meal with a relatively hiked price, or a cabbie raising your fare, it’s important to be alert, and always be aware of what’s going on around you.

While some scams are common worldwide, they do tend to differ from country, so do country specific research. Watch out for thieves, especially in congested areas and on bus lines in tourist’s joints. Keep your credit cards, passport, and cash in a safe place, and not in your back pocket.

NEVER give out your credit card information over the phone unless you’ve called them – a trending scam is to call a hotel desk and ask to be put through to a room, to then impersonate the front desk and ask for your credit card again.

Scams operate in every city, and naive travelers are often a favorite target. Always be aware of your surroundings. Click To Tweet

Girl backpacker city travel

 

Picking the Wrong Travel Partner

Picking a travel partner is a massive decision which can make or break a trip. Choosing the wrong person to travel with can make for a disastrous trip, and cause irreparable damage to your relationship.

Sometimes this means having to say no to family and friends. I’m sure you love spending time together, though some people make better friends than travel companions.

We’ve all got that friend who we love to death but would never live with. Travel is the same thing. Tell them that you love them, but that you value your relationship too much to travel with them.

If you’re not keen on traveling solo, choose a travel companion wisely. You’ll be spending a lot of time in each other’s company, often in confined quarters, so choose someone who you won’t need to escape. Their idea of a vacation and definition of adventure should mirror your own. And make sure you’re on the same page when it comes to budgeting.

Keep in mind too that the more people you add to your trip the more complicated it will become to put it in action.  And try to choose someone who is flexible. You’ll probably want some alone time during the trip, so pick someone who is independent and can do things on their own without your presence.

Choosing the wrong travel partner can make for a disastrous trip, and cause irreparable damage to your relationship.Click To Tweet

Anna friend travelers

Not Changing Currency Before Leaving

It can be really hard to figure out where to change your currency – do you do this beforehand at your local bank, wait until you get to the airport, or wait until you land in your destination? After-all, no-one wants to get ripped off with currency exchange rates.

But you should organize cash before you land, as it’s likely you’ll need some as soon you arrive at your destination. Most countries accept credit card nowadays, but you might find yourself needing some local currency to pay for things like public transportation or gratuities before you can find an exchange.

So, check your pockets before departing from the airport. Getting money from an airport’s ATM usually gives you a better exchange rate, but make sure you’ve researched the currency exchange before your trip.

So, how many of these mistakes have you made?

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Daniel is a passionate traveler, wildlife photographer and hunter who runs Bestopticsfor.com. Over the years he has learnt to blend his outdoor enthusiasm with exceptional journalism skills to provide valuable resources to all hunters.

 

    39 Comments

  1. Hi Daniel,

    I have made a few dude. Changing money too late – to pay sky high rates at airports – has bitten me twice. But lesson learned on that one. We are good about finding transport options from airports pre-trip; most of these airports are 30 to 60 minutes from town or more.

    Ryan

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Ryan – I feel like I always get caught on exchanging money too late too – no matter how many times I travel!

      Awesome to know that you’re all over the airport transfers – we stood in line at Buenos Aires airport for a good hour to get a verified taxi, when other taxis were trying to convince us to leave the queue for an immediate ride, but I’m so glad we had done our research before we arrived, because many people ended up being conned by non-verified taxis.

  2. The good advice for traveler & beginners.

    • Thanks Henry, glad you enjoyed the post :)

  3. My mistakes usually involve too much luggage but not enough to be overweight. I could probably pare down the amount of luggage that I bring on a trip but, at least, I know that, if I can lift it easily, it’s probably not over the weight limit. Let’s hope that I don’t miraculously become super strong because this system will stop working, lol.

    • I think we’ve all been there re too much luggage before – I like your system though on being able to lift it – I agree, I think if it’s too heavy to life you should probably lose some of it! :)

  4. These are such good tips because so many travelers take too much for granted and don’t anticipate the things they’ll need to know or do. Your tip about traveling with the right person is spot on, and it’s harder to do than people think! Unfortunately, just because you love someone doesn’t mean you’ll be good traveling companions!

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Lois – I agree, I think even frequent travelers get to the stage where they become a little complacent and perhaps forget some of these, so I think it’s important to have reminders every now and then!

      And absolutely on the right travel companion – I’ve seen so many of my friends relationships fall apart because they weren’t compatible traveling :(

  5. Travellers who say they’ve never made any of these 7 travel mistakes are liars. I think. Who hasn’t forked out more for unexpected travel expenses? Even if it’s just the bottle of water you must give up to security minutes after buying it! Fortunately, I’ve never been the victim of a scam (that I know of :).

    • Lol I agree I think everyone would have been tripped up by at least one of these in the past, I know I’ve made many of the mistakes on Dan’s list! And yes, paying more than you originally budgeted for is probably most people’s trips!!

      Glad to hear you’ve never been scammed, good work on staying sharp – they’re always coming up with new cons, so it’s definitely hard!

  6. Some great tips to consider when travelling. Hidden costs are indeed not a good surprise, especially if they need local currencies and can’t be put on a credit card. I agree that travel health insurance is mandatory. I am waffling on travel cancelation and interruption insurance. It can often be very expensive, especially if you are travelling for a long time and have to include all of your costs. I assess the need based on the type and duration of the trip. I am embarrassed to admit that we have had issues with airport transportation more than once when we assumed we could just get a cab at the airport. We are now much more carful about knowing options before we land. One thing we have just started doing is photographing our luggage before we say goodbye to it. Always outside and sometimes inside. Would help to describe the bag.

    • Too right about running out of cash with hidden costs – tipping is usually the one which gets me here as we come from Australia which doesn’t have a tipping culture.

      Glad to hear that you’re always set with travel insurance – it isn’t worth not traveling with. And I think it’s easy to assume that you can just grab a cab at the airport, but we’ve been stranded a few times in the past for thinking that too!

      Great idea on photographing your luggage before checking it – Turkish Airways lost mine last year and it was frustrating trying to describe it – going to do this from now on, great tip!!

  7. Well I’m certainly guilty of making a few of these mistakes!! Luckily I have a pretty great travel partner and we make a great team! We’ve started traveling carry-on only after a friend we were traveling with to the Dominican Republic had his luggage lost for half our trip…such a bummer! But now we almost always travel carry on only, get travel insurance, and try to avoid all these blunder to make our travels more enjoyable.

    • You and me both :D! Awesome to hear you have a fab travel partner – it’s always so good when you find someone you really mesh with to share the experience :)

      Kudos on only traveling carryon! I would totally love to do it, but have never been able to for more than a long weekend – working up to it maybe with more practice :D

      Happy travels Julie!

  8. we have learned to ensure we have at least one pair of clothes for each traveler in our party in our carryon along with other essentials and to keep an eye on travel from the airport to our destination (including public transport).. thank you for the tips :)

    • Excellent to hear Vidya – I learnt that one the hard way when Turkish lost my bags once – I had to wear my husbands clothes for a day lol, so I always carry a spare change of clothes and underwear in my carryon now.

      Glad you enjoyed the post :)

  9. Like you say, even experienced travelers make mistakes. I’ve learned the hard way about transport to and especially from airports into town. Now that’s something I spend time on. When planning to visit Ecuador I looked over common scams with a critical gaze but sure enough met travelers who fell prey to several. Travel is wonderful but so much better as you gain experience and confidence to cover even the unexpected.

    • Absolutely Elaine – I think it’s easy to become complacent after having traveled a lot, and think “I got this”, forgetting the basics. So it never hurts to have a reminder every now and then :)

      Glad to hear you’re all over researching transport options from the airport, and country specific scams – totally agree that travel builds confidence and self esteem :)

  10. I have a habit of googling the scams in my destination before I go and I always have my airport transportation figured out. I’m not so good about searching for the hidden costs, need to work on that!

    • Awesome Sherianne – that’s what we all need to do :) I used to get caught up on hidden costs a lot, but now read the fine print on everything – all over that part!

  11. Picking a wrong holiday travel partner would be about the top one on my list.I can handle a lot but a whining travel partner is the ultimate pits!

    • I’m right there with you! I’ve seen so many relationships totally ruined because they were incompatible traveling together – mainly friends out of high school who took off on gap years together.

  12. Good article Meg! I never know where to exchange money. I have just done it at the airport.

    • Thanks! Glad it was helpful :) I’ll do it at my departure airport a lot of the time, but if I can be organized, I’ll usually try to visit a bank at home before the trip :)

    • Good idea!

  13. Hi!

    Nice article. Good tips … for the more posch traveler. ;)

    Whem I travel it’s a bit more “low budget”. Just me, my backpack with 2 sleeping bags in it and a change of clothing.

    (Plus some small things like phone charger, torch, small first aid kit, sewing kit, etc.)

    No flights, no hotels, no hostels … traveling by coach (long distance bus) or hitchhiking or jumping a train …

    While traveling I sleep in my sleeping bag in some doorway in a city or in squats or (happened before) with friends in a tent somewhere.

    When I depart for a new trip I don’t take much money with me. Perhaps 30 euro/pounds … the money I need during the trip I make with playing harmonica on the streets.

    If you don’t take much with you, you don’t have much to loose. :)

    For me, traveling is all about getting along with very little, making friends, having experiences.

    I’ll admit, being from Germany I did not do trips to Asia, US or other regions far away (yet). I traveled in Continental Europe and (most of the time) UK …

    But it was always a time full of adventure, exciting situations, sometimes scary situations but I would not like to miss a single day.

    So my tip is: travel lightweight, with no or only little money, let the road provide for you. :)

    Cheers!

    • A great tip on traveling lightweight, thanks for sharing your travel experience Klaus!

      Your travels definitely sound full of adventure, and I love that your focus is on making friends and having experiences.

      Being from Australia, sadly we’re a bit isolated, so it always costs a bit for us to get overseas, though that said, I have started focusing on local travel this year, because I think there is so much that we take for granted in our own backyard. And in that sense, taking advantage of your locality is a great way to make travel cheaper.

      From a travel perspective I’ve always been jealous of those who live in Europe though lol :D

      Happy travels!

  14. A good list that comes in handy. As a family of 3, we always do our research before travelling. Like the best and cheapest way to get to our destination from the airport. Also, we exchange currencies (without any commission) before leaving home. We avoid exchanging at airports because of lower rates and commissions. We tend to travel light (a backpack each) or just one or two luggage when necessary depending on destinations.

    So far, we haven’t fallen into a scam. However, most of the times we exceed our budget during actual travels and we’re guilty of not having travel insurances. My best travel buddies are my wife and our son (and my worst when we argue which happens a lot). But I couldn’t have anybody else.

    • Thanks Ash, glad you enjoyed the post :) Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on everything above – definitely becomes more important for being organized with research and things like currency when you’re traveling as a family group. Awesome to hear that you’ve managed to avoid scams to date!

      It’s so incredible that you’re giving your son the gift of travel – I’ve always thought that giving kids access to the world is the best education a parent can give. And of course brings you so much closer as a family unit :)

      Happy travels!

  15. Thank you very much for sharing this to us! Indeed a life saving tips whenever you travel. I love reading all of your tips and just travel without any hassle anymore by following this great list of yours.

    • You’re welcome Ghia, glad the post was helpful :)

  16. Great tips in this post! I hate hidden costs when travelling – such an unwelcome surprise. And we never, ever travel without insurance, the risks are just not worth it! I think that picking the wrong travel partner would be the worst error of all. Most of the other mistakes could be overcome (at a cost), but travelling with wrong person or group could completely ruin your entire travel experience.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Claudia! I’m right there with you on hating hidden costs – the really sneak up on you sometimes. And I’m glad to hear you never travel without insurance – it really isn’t worth the risk. We were on a cruise to NZ last month and a woman had to be emergency helicoptered out for a stroke, from the middle of the ocean – I can’t even imagine how much that would cost – I hope she had insurance!!

      Totally agree on picking the wrong person coming in as #1 – you’re right, the other mistakes are reasonably temporary and you can usually at least resume with the rest of your vacation. The wrong travel companion is there for the whole thing!!

  17. Hi Meg!

    “And in that sense, taking advantage of your locality is a great way to make travel cheaper. ”

    Yes, it really is. From where I am, just hitchhike for a few hours or take a bus or train and you’re in a different country. With people speaking different languages, different culture, different way of life. Okay, the differences in lifestyle may not be as huge as Germany/Japan or Germany/Australia … but there are differences and I like that.

    And yep, it’s cheaper of course.

    When it comes to traveling for me, it’s not so much about seeing new places, great landscapes or getting some cool pics and buy some souvenirs.

    It’s more about the personal experience, getting out of your comfort zone, doing things you never thought you would do.

    A few years ago I would never have imagines I would travel with just a backpack, sleeping rough on the streets or in occupied buildings and making money by some busking (euphemism for begging in my case) and so on. ;)

    But I did, I made experiences I will never forget, met people who became best friends and just enjoyed my life.

    I gained a lot of self confidence, learned a lot about myself and people in general. I learned with how little you can get by … that money is not really important. I learned that the road provides if you have a positive attitude.

    Now I’m back to work for a few months, sitting in an office at a computer. But I’m looking forward hitting the road again.

    Cheers!

    • You are the true explorer we aspire to be :D! Totally agree that it’s about the personal experience – my first few trips were about the tourist landmarks, and the partying, and the souvenirs, but as I traveled more I realized that it was about experiencing new cultures, connecting with new people, and as you’ve said, pushing those boundaries of your comfort zone until your comfort zone is more of a dot in the distance that you can’t see anymore :D!

      Wishing you a wonderful weekend – I’ve found that I actually don’t mind the stints of work back at home in-between trips when I know there’s another one on the horizon – gives me something to work towards and look forward to :)

      Hope you have an amazing trip when you hit the road again!

  18. Thank you for this article! I’m about to have my first international trip to Europe from Australia and I’m quite nervous about a lot of things that could go wrong (particuarly hidden costs), so this is incredibly helpful!

    • You’re welcome Olivia, I’m glad that the post was helpful for you :)

      I hope you have an incredible trip – my first ever trip abroad (as an adult) was Europe from Australia too, and it was the most incredible time of my life. You’ll love it!

  19. Great post, thanks for sharing. I repeatedly bumped into scams, but in a while I learned to recognize them ;-). But the most curious topic is travel partners. The thing is I don’t know how to choose the right match. I used to go on trips with one or a couple of my friends. Sadly, I always had to give up on several items from my precious to-do-list. So now I prefer to travel solo. My friends are mad at me because of that and call me selfish. Well, it’s hardly possible to find someone with the same wishes as yours. Is it possible at all?

    • You’re welcome Erin, glad you enjoyed it :) Don’t listen to your friends – it’s very sad that they’re not supportive – telling someone they’re selfish for traveling solo is one of the biggest things I hate!

      You’re right, it’s literally impossible to find someone who will want to travel in exactly the same way as you – I traveled solo for 10 years, and loved it. I then met my now husband, and have been traveling as a couple for the last 7 years. I love traveling as a couple, and I will very rarely take trips on my own anymore, but even with the best travel companion in the world, you still make sacrifices, do things that they want to do even if you’re not interested, and vice versa.

      So go for it – travel solo if that’s what you love to do – ultimately, travel should be an enjoyable experience, and something you remember as a highlight. So if you have to leave your friends at home to achieve that, I say go solo!

      Happy travels :)

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