8 Travel Mistakes Abroad That Come Back To Haunt Us

by Shelli Stein

Can we ever avoid ALL travel mistakes? I don’t think so. We’ve all made them, but more often than not, there are ways around the travel mistakes we make. Sure, it might be way more fun to talk about all the room upgrades we score, the elite status benefits we enjoy, or the flight deals that didn’t get away. But let’s face it, we’ve all made a bunch of mistakes — even rookie travel mistakes. So let’s air them and have some fun laughing at ourselves and commiserating with each other.

No matter how much we plan or how well we assume we’ll carry out those plans, there’s always a lot that’s not under our control. I started asking around and found that some travel mistakes are more common than others. Hint: A lot of them are costly travel mistakes.

Based on my own experience as well as that of many other frequent travelers, here are the biggest and most common mistakes and how to avoid them. There are so many of them I’ve actually made this a 3 part series!

1. Not buying souvenirs right when you see them 

You will need to show your passport if you want to receive the VAT refunds aftering a shopping spree in Paris! Rrrainbow / Shutterstock.com

I buy souvenirs (and by that, I mean chocolate) for people from every place I travel. You’d be surprised how many times I don’t get back to that certain best chocolate bar store or to a certain area of town even though I say I will. So this mistake is easy to make and easy to fix! If you see it now, buy it now.

2. Trying too hard for a bargain and trying too hard to be frugal

I love saving money as much as the next person. Knowing when to spend and when to save can be complicated. Maybe the mistake I hear about the most — one of the top travel money mistakes — is sometimes going for the deal, when in the end, the deal ends up costing way more than expected in money, time, and energy. One of the best pieces of advice when I was booking a safari — from people who had been on safaris — was not to focus too much on prices because it was, after all, likely to be a once in a lifetime kind of trip.

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3. Using expensive money changers

It’s good to ask around and get a good deal on exchange rates but spending lots of time or fussing over an extra few cents just doesn’t seem worth it.

4. Not negotiating a taxi rate beforehand

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I prefer when a taxi has a meter or has a set price. In many countries, however, the taxis do not have meters. Often the price is negotiable if you negotiate up front. When I negotiate and settle on a price, I often have a piece of paper and ask the driver to write down the price for me. I have found this to be the best way to avoid paying too much for a non-meter taxi. It can be a costly mistake, otherwise.

5. Taking too many pictures (the travel photo mistake)

Let’s admit it. If we ourselves aren’t guilty of this, we have friends who are. Taking just the right amount of photos is an art that’s probably best learned after making this mistake. I’m more experiential so I actually think I take too few photos, which is also a mistake. But for those of you who see the photos afterward and don’t recall the experience itself, take fewer photos.

6. Not having the proper visa

This mistake can be a real big one. Not just in the monetary costs but in the stress level and high blood pressure you’ll suffer through as well. It’s your responsibility to know if a visa is required. I’ve heard horror stories from people who were turned away at immigration for not having the proper visa. And check on visa requirements as soon as you book a trip. Sometimes it’s complicated and the visa can take months to secure.

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7. Trying to use your credit and debit cards without alerting your bank

This one may be old school for some travelers and some credit card companies don’t require that you do this, but it still can be a good practice. Many banks have a “travel notification” link on their website. If you feel better knowing your bank knows you’ll be traveling, then do this.

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8. Drinking the tap water

I’ve never been sick from drinking water while traveling, but I’ll admit to being very cautious. In Bali, for instance, every day they brought me water for drinking and brushing my teeth. Even when the locals drink the water but they tell you not to, follow their advice. You can buy your own water or bring along a travel filtration system. Either way, you don’t want to risk getting sick so don’t drink the water in certain countries.

Final Thoughts

It’s true that travel mistakes can mean learning the hard way. But it’s the learning that’s important! Have you made any of these mistakes I mentioned? How do you avoid them? Stay tuned for more travel mistakes and how to avoid them!

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