Travel Mistakes: We all make them!

Whether a rookie or a well-seasoned traveler, we all make mistakes. Sometimes we overpack, others we might fail to plan appropriately for the weather. Here are some common travel mistakes and a few tips to avoid making them.

  • Not packing a battery/power bank.

    • Cell phones, tablets, laptops and camera batteries all die. Oftentimes you will find a power outlet on trains or in cafe, but don’t rely on that! Airplanes will have them too, but sometimes they won’t work. So, make sure you have a. well charged battery pack at all times.
  • Bringing only your passport.

    • Yes, you need a passport for international travel. However, you should always carry another form of photo identification. Double check on the counties to which you will travel and make sure that you do not need to secure a visa PRIOR to arrival! Note: Many countries require that your passport be valid at least 6 months after traveling home.
    • Student IDs are another great perk to have with you as you can often receive a discount at tourist sites if you are a current student.
  • Not giving your bank a heads up.

    • Be sure to call ALL of your financial institutions. Notify your bank and credit cards where you will be traveling and the dates you will be there. This will help to ensure that your accounts are not frozen while you are away. If it does happen, you will spend entire days without money available and probably on the phone with them to correct it.
  • Beware the Roaming Fees!

    • Make sure you also call your phone carrier to find out what the fees will be for using your phone while abroad. Some carriers will offer a couple of options/packages depending on the countries you will be visiting. Typically I choose the $10/day for my regular service if available. That allows me to only pay the $10 for a day that I actually turn my phone on. If I leave it in Airplane mode, then I’m not charged for service but I can use the camera. Then, I just connect to WiFi when available.
  • Taking the Wrong Luggage

    • This sounds like a silly one, I know, but hear me out. Packing a large duffel bag without wheels which you have to carry through train stations and taxis, up stairs and 4 blocks uphill, is a pain! Stuffing all your things into a large rolling suitcase that doesn’t fit nicely into the trunk/boot of a vehicle if other items are in there, may not work either. Just do your research, understand the type of traveling you are going to be doing, and pack accordingly.
  • Not dressing for the weather

    • This a big one and is easy to miss. Even those of us who plan and research can struggle with it. If you travel is summer or dead of winter, it is pretty easy to assume that the weather will either be very warm and possibly raining or very cold and perhaps snowing. But, what about if you are in the in-between seasons where things are less predictable?
      • Layers! Lightweight layers which can be removed or added as needed.
      • Shoes – Two pairs. One for walking and one for inclement weather.
      • Keep it simple! Chances are you are going to buy souvenirs. If you tend to  buy t-shirts or sweatshirts, then don’t go overboard with the packing of these items.
  • Not accounting for JET LAG

    • With our trip to Ireland and Scotland in 2016, we missed the mark on this one. I lived overseas for a couple years, so I knew how I reacted to jet lag. What I didn’t really take into account was how Katie handled it, and truly neither did she. We had assumed that a museum or two on arrival day, a good night sleep on night one and we would be set. Unfortunately this didn’t work well for Katie and she was pretty miserable for the first 2 days while her body figured things out.
      • Do not plan much other than getting your bearings in the new place, grabbing something to eat, a good nap and a nice shower for the first day.
      • Take day two a little easier too, but keep your bedtimes stable these two nights to allow yourself time to adjust.
  • Only eating near tourist sites

    • Yes, there are lots of great places to eat near the tourist hotspots. However, these are catering to tourists and the prices will reflect that. By all means, grab a coffee and a pastry nearby but seek out the local spots instead! Your experience will be more authentic and it will be easier on your pocket. Check message boards, Yelp or other review sites.
  • Exchanging money at the airport

    • You arrive, you realize that you only have your currency and you want to take a taxi to your lodging. Do not exchange at the airport! The exchange rate will be the worst you come across throughout your trip. Instead, use an ATM or take cash into a bank. I tend to exchange a few days before I travel at my own bank. I don’t like to carry a ton of cash though, so I select a number I’m comfortable with carrying on me and exchange that. I also keep some of my US dollars on me just in case, and so I have cash when I fly home.
  • Carrying cash or cards exclusively

    • You may think that carrying your credit/debit cards is safer than carrying cash. While it is easier to cancel a card if lost or stolen than it is to get your cash back, what happens if they ARE lost or stolen? You are then out of luck! And some places will not accept your debit/credit card sometimes.
    • Instead, carry some of each! Keep a small amount in your local currency and then spread the rest of your funds across a couple cards and some of the destination currency.
  • Over ambitious layovers

    • Ok, lets be real. No one likes sitting in an airport, waiting at the gate while 2 or 3 flights unload and reload passengers before yours even arrives. This is time we could be spending in-flight and arriving at our destination sooner, right? You know what is worse? Giving yourself such a short connection time that you miss your flight! So, where is the happy medium?
      • Know the connection/layover airport! Do a little research and find out how big the terminal is and how big the airport is that you will be connecting through. Some airports aren’t very big and an hour is plenty of time, whereas others are HUGE and you need to allow 2 hours. A little planning and you can make sure that your travels are smooth sailing!
  • Standing out as a tourist

    • We buy new clothes and new shoes, brand new luggage and backpacks/purses etc. It is fun to go shopping for a new trip and feel like we look our best. Only problem is, we stand out as tourists, making ourselves an easy target for pickpockets and shady locals. Instead, pack your well-loved and broken in shoes and your tried and true clothing items. Not only will you be comfortable, but you can always leave an item or two behind if you buy too many souvenirs and need space. Note: Purchasing clothing items as souvenirs ensures that you won’t just have another knick-knack on a shelf to remember your trip by. It also helps you to blend in!
    • Do a little research on what the locals tend to wear. Are bright colors your normal ensemble go-to? If locals tend to stick to neutrals then you will stand out as a tourist. Another giveaway in many countries is wearing ball caps or sneakers/trainers. A little research goes a long way in this area!
    • Be aware of any cultural/religious expectations of countries you may visit. For example, Japan in the summer is very humid and hot. Yet women do not tend to show a lot of skin as we do in the USA. Spaghetti strap tank tops with lots of cleavage and short cut off shorts are the normal attire in the States, but in Japan you will not see this worn. Shorts and tank tops are ok, but the locals will typically keep their outfits light in color and fabric while maintaining a more modest style.

So, there you have it. Some of the mistakes we all make from time to time when we travel. Never be afraid to try new things, new places and meet new people.

“Keep your heart open, a suitcase packed and wander often, for the world is wide and adventure awaits.” ~Emylee

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