Here are 10, fairly simple, mistakes to avoid when you travel.
1. Not informing your credit card company of your travel plans – The fastest way to mess up your trip is to have your source of money shut off and that’s a real possibility if your cc company or your bank thinks someone has skipped town with your card. Make sure you inform them of your travel plans. Most companies let you do this right online, easy-peasy!
2. Not checking to see if you need a visa – It can be easy to get comfortable with having a powerful passport, like one from the US, and forget that there are still countries out there require you to fill out a visa application prior to showing up. Make sure you double check the visa requirements well before your travel day.
3. Having a passport that expires soon – While you are checking your visa requirements also check to see how many months your passport needs to have left before it expires and how many blank pages you need. Some countries require 3 months and others can require 6 months of validity upon entry.
4. Not checking your layover details – It’s important to know what cities you are having a layover in because flying through a place like Chicago in the winter is risky business. There’s a higher likelihood of having weather related delays depending on when and where you are flying through so make sure you are making a smart choice about your layover city. Also keep in mind how much time your layover is, does it give you enough time to get from one gate to another and if you checked a bag, do you think it will make it too? Another thing to factor in with your layover time is if for some reason your flight is delayed, how much of a buffer do you have to make your next flight? Remember that flights in the evening are more likely to be delayed than flights in the morning.
5. Paying for an overweight bag – Weigh your bag at home, no one wants the surprise of having to fork over more money at the airport. Invest in a luggage scale (it’s ~$10) so you are never caught off guard. Already at your destination and think you overdid it with the souvenirs? Many hotels have a luggage scale at the front desk that you can use or you can do the little trick with a bathroom scale where you hold your bag then subtract your body weight from the total. Just remember, this isn’t the time to lie about your weight.
6. Not making copies of everything – Make sure you have copies of your passport, IDs, or other important documents and store them someplace other than with the items they are copies of. This way if something gets lost or stolen you have a backup. For bonus points also leave a copy with a trusted friend or family member back home that you can contact in case of an emergency.
7. Not doing basic research on your destination – I get it, you’re a free spirit who goes with the flow and where the wind takes you. Your life is going to be a lot easier with these few key Google searches:
“Common phrases in (language of the place you’re visiting)”
“Customs of (place you are visiting)”
“Scams of (place you are visiting)”
“Culture and etiquette of (place you are visiting)”
“Weather in (place you are visiting) in (time of year you are visiting)”
8. Not checking local laws – Not everything that is legal in your country might be legal in the one you are visiting. Your anti-anxiety meds? Those may be considered a controlled substance. Pornography? Outlawed in quite a few countries. Fake designer purse? Just say no when in France. Beef jerky? Yeah, that could get you in serious trouble too. So while you are doing your basic Google searches from number 7, also dig into the local laws.
9. Not checking your hotel reservations – I love a deal on a hotel room and a lot of times that means booking through a third party. But you need to keep in mind that a 3rd party may actually be more like a 4th or 5th party in a chain of hotel room dealers so make sure you call the actual hotel after booking to make sure they have your reservation and the details of the room you have booked are correct. Nothing worse than showing up after a long flight to find out you don’t actually have a place to stay.
10. Not getting travelers insurance – I get it, you’d rather use that money for something else and statistically you’re probably going to be fine but look at all the money you have spent on your trip and think, “If something were to happen, am I cool with all of that disappearing or would I like to have that back in my wallet?” If the answer is ‘back in your wallet’ then you need to get some trip insurance.
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