15 Common Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
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I have lived most of my life exploring places. I have been to multiple countries, met countless people, made tons of memories, and made a handful of travel mistakes as well. While slip-ups are just as unforgettable as the good times, it’s needless to say that we need to take countermeasures in order to avoid these catastrophes before and during going out of town. Below, I have listed 15 travel mistakes that we should all avoid:
Every one of us wants to go all-out Boy Scout mode and be prepared for anything that comes our way when we go out of the house, but overpacking is usually unnecessary. Packing too much clothes and shoes will bloat up your luggage and will cost you a lot when you exceed the weight limit.
Furthermore, do not be tempted to pack liquids like shampoo and perfume in your luggage, especially if they exceed 100 mL. More often than not, they will be tossed out in the luggage inspection, and you will feel bad for the untimely loss of your newly-bought bottle of your favorite scent.
Although I have mentioned not to overpack, it is also a huge mistake to underpack. Travelers usually have at least two bags: a small carry-on and a much-larger trolley travel bag. Remember that your carry-on should have all the essentials, including important things like extra clothes and medicine. Although your larger bag can store all these easily, the bag inspection process can take a whole lot of time, and you do not want to mistakenly put all your essentials in the other bag when you need them most.
Forgetting to turn off your mobile data while traveling
Roaming data fees are incredibly expensive. The last thing you want to have is a “surprise” in your phone bill when you return to your home country. Since it’s easy to forget that call and/or data charges are different outside the country, you might want to switch on airplane mode. That’s what it’s for! And, contrary to common belief, you can still connect to a Wi-Fi network even while in airplane mode.
Postponing exchanging your money with local currency in hopes for finding better rates
It is perfectly fine to want to get the most out of everything. But when it comes to grabbing local currency, it’s best to get some while you can, preferably at the airport. All major airports have currency exchange ATMs that will convert your money to the local currency for a fair rate.
If it is your first time traveling to another country, drop your hopes of looking for that one cost-effective money changer you read on the Internet. The uncertain journey in search for it is not worth it. You should have local currency in your hands as soon as possible.
Using debit or credit card without notifying your bank
Do not forget to inform your bank beforehand that you are travelling outside the country. You can do this by sending a travel notification via clicking a specific link in your respective banks’ websites. If you do not do this ahead of time, your bank might label your transaction while out of the country as fraudulent activity and freeze your bank account, rendering you basically penniless!
Storing all your money in one place, like a wallet
If you still prefer tangible money over cards, be sure to store them in separate places—say a specific pocket in your carry-on bag, or even a few folded paper bills in your ID case if you are travelling with an ID. The point is that keeping them in one place, like a wallet, makes you extremely vulnerable, because everything you need is all there; at one fell swoop, these can all be gone. This was my mistake when I was robbed in Paris before. Similar to this mistake is…
Storing all your photos, videos, and accounts in one place
Most of just have just one phone that we bring along everywhere we go. Just like our wallet, our phones contain megabytes of precious data like photos, videos, and the like. Since we can’t sparse these things like how we can keep money in separate places, the best countermeasure for the danger of losing all that in the occasion of a snatched phone is to back them up in a cloud, or a handy USB flash drive prior to departure.
Not purchasing travel insurance
Most travel insurance fees are affordable, and they can save you thousands for unexpected travel mishaps. Most travel insurance packages cover loss of baggage and other possessions, medical treatment abroad, emergency transportation (return to home country), and cancellation fees, among others.
Not keeping an eye on valuables
“Please keep an eye on your valuables” is so common that we sometimes underestimate its worth. Keeping your guard up especially when traveling to uncharted territories is a must. One good way of ensuring the safety of your valuables is purchasing an anti-theft bag.
Inadequate visa requirements
Check the visa requirements of your destination at least two times and make sure that everything is secured way before your intended schedule for leaving. Also be sure that your passport is not expiring anytime soon, as some countries need at least half a year of passport validity before granting you entry to their place. The last thing you want to experience is a canceled trip and a sleepless night at the Immigration.
Too short layover time
The situations at the airport are usually unpredictable. There are almost always delays in flight arrivals, and sometimes, security checks take longer than expected. This is why it is best to book flights with at least two hours grace period in between, especially if you are working with connecting flights.
Neglecting time zone difference when planning an itinerary
The Philippines is in sync with ten other places: Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, parts of Indonesia, Western Australia, and Irkutsk in Russia. The rest of the 184 countries have different time zones. Remember that a 7-hour flight overseas does not translate to seven hours from your departure in Manila. Plan a loose itinerary on your first day, taking note of jet-lag and body clock adjustment to the new time zone.
Failure to duplicate important documents
These include passport, ID, flight tickets, hotel reservations, and hardcopies of important contact numbers (your local embassy, family members, etc.). Besides physical copies of these, you may also upload them in your e-mail. You will never know when you will need these.
Not reading reviews
Be it a tour package, a hotel, or a restaurant, reviews tell you what to expect from anything. Reviews are the golden nuggets of advice that any traveler can rely on to make better choices.
Being culturally insensitive
Do your homework. Know what to wear, how to behave, or what and what not to do in a place. Having a friend from this country who knows the lay of the land is helpful.
Being culturally insensitive draws attention and pose obvious risks. Even when traveling in a group with a guide, remember that more often than not, the tour guide is a local who can get really embarrassed (or get in trouble in his or her respective company) if you act inappropriately and that can be a potential biggest travel mistake that you may experience in most of your trips.
Respect and immerse yourself in the culture and enjoy traveling to the fullest!