View of St Martin from the Airplane St Martaan
St Martin from the Air

The 10 Worst Travel Mistakes You Can Make

Travel can be complicated. While we love to explore new cultures and places, the hassles of finding the best price, planning an itinerary and dealing with airport security and regulations can be overwhelming.

If you can avoid these ten travel mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to a fun, enjoyable trip.

View of St Martin from the Airplane St Martaan
St Martin from the Air
  1. Failing to triple check your flight’s date, time and departure airport. This can lead to all sorts of disasters, including missing flights, long layovers and even trying to leave from the wrong airport. Many cities have two or more airports, and your airline may book your departure from a different airport than your arrival.
  2. Overpacking. These days, most airlines charge close to $50 for each checked bag and some even charge for carry on luggage. If you go over the weight limit, you’ll pay a big penalty. Cost aside, schlepping heavy, overstuffed bags through crowded airports and airport security is a nightmare. You’re traveling to be carefree and get away from everyday life, right? They why would you carry all of it with you on vacation?
  3. Not getting travel medical insurance. Accidents or a sudden illness can happen any time, to anyone, even if you’re young and healthy. Travel insurance is especially important if you’re traveling to a country like the United States where a routine medical emergency, like a broken leg, could set you back over $15,000. We like World Nomads travel insurance, as they offer good prices and good coverage to travelers from over 140 countries.
  4. Overscheduling. You may be excited about your next trip, but there’s no surer way to spoil getting away from it all than trying to cram in every possible activity and sight. Most of us are crunched for time in our daily lives. Why would you want to do that to yourself on vacation?
  5. Forgetting to check visa requirements. Many countries require your passport to be valid for six months before they’ll issue a tourist or visitor’s visa. You’ll need the six month validity on your passport even if you only plan to stay a week. Other countries require an outbound ticket before you’re allowed in the country.
  6. Traveling during peak season. Peak season costs more, and attractions are more crowded. If you can reschedule your trip, consider traveling during shoulder season, when prices drop, there are fewer people around, and you’ll have a better choice of accommodation.
  7. Getting frustrated because the language and customs are different.  I’ve lost count of the travelers I’ve seen in restaurants and hotels who are irritated because the staff doesn’t speak perfect English. Imagine how you’d feel if a tourist came to your country and demanded that you speak their language perfectly. Travel can be a way to grow by learning another language and getting a feel for the differences in culture.
  8. Not taking local holidays or major events like conventions into account. We’ve done this more often than I’d care to admit. We’ve had trouble booking trains in Thailand during the Songkran Festival and Chinese New Year because they were full, and have overpaid for hotels in Canada because we forgot to check for major conventions. Look into local holidays at your destination before you go, as attractions and even restaurants can close during major holidays.
  9. Not reviewing the rules for what is allowed in your carry on luggage. This is especially important for liquids and gels. Rules can change often, and it’s a real bother to have to have to throw away something not allowed on your flight or pay to mail it back home (that is, if you have time).
  10. Allowing your phone to roam. Cellular roaming fees can be astronomical. You can avoid them by buying a SIM and phone credit in your destination country (this only works with unlocked phones). If your phone isn’t unlocked, try calling your provider to set up a temporary international plan with reduced fees. Better yet, use WhatsApp, Skype, Google Hangouts (our current favorite) or something similar if you can find free/cheap WiFi. You could even just turn off your phone and really escape from your everyday life.

Can’t seem to avoid making mistakes? Don’t worry, mistakes can be some of the best parts of travel. Check out one of our favorite blogs, A Backpacker’s Tale, for some fun tales of misadventure.

What were your biggest travel mistakes? We’d love to know!