How To Avoid These 9 Common Travel Mistakes

by Shelli Stein

We’ve all made travel mistakes, though I don’t think we’ll ever avoid all of them. But more often than not, there are ways to avoid the most common travel mistakes. Sure, it might be way more fun to talk about all the room upgrades we score, the elite status benefits we enjoy, or the deal for flights that DIDN’T get away, but let’s face it, we’ve all made a bunch of mistakes.

So let’s air them and have some fun laughing at ourselves and commiserating with each other. Here’s Part 1 of the series.

Most Common Travel Mistakes To Avoid

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. And some people agree on how best to avoid those mistakes, but not always. Based on my own experience as well as that of many other frequent travelers, here are the mistakes and how to avoid them. There are so many of them I’ve actually made this a three part series!

1. Not Printing Travel Details

I’m pretty conservative when it comes to printing paper, but there are still times when I do. It’s not that I don’t trust technology. Particularly when traveling alone, I just feel better knowing that I have paper copies of some items.

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2. Spending Too Much Travel Time In Transit

common travel mistakes

Don’t spend too long in transit, even in a lounge

I first learned this lesson when I took an overnight sleeper train in Europe. It was so great to be able to sleep on the train and then wake up the next day in my new location. It makes good sense not to spend the main parts of the day transiting from one location to the other. I’d rather be out seeing the sites, and probably you would too!

When possible, traveling early in the day or later in the evening makes more sense. Of course, if the transit trip is part of the experience, then daytime hours can lead to some amazing scenery. Considering transit times helps maximize your days so they aren’t filled with being at airports, train stations, or on buses.

3. Not Having The Best Credit Card For Travel

Many credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee. Those fees add up! Get a card or two without foreign transaction fees.

4. Paying For Car Rental Insurance When You Travel

Always check to see whether your credit card or your own car insurance covers rentals. Often coverage is on a country by country basis, so check this as well. There is no need to pay for unnecessary car insurance, but you must do your homework. It pays, literally, to know the answer as to whether or not you’re already covered.

5. Paying For Rental Car Damage

common travel mistakes with rental cars

Pre-checking a vehicle seems to be the car rental company norm these days. So make your norm a defensive one. Take your own photos of the car and make notes if you see any damage. These kinds of steps help you avoid any hassle later on. No one likes to be scammed when they travel!

6. Setting Expectations Too High

It’s a challenge to travel without any expectations at all. We’ve spent money, time, and energy to make travel happen and we want a return on that investment. But I find that people who set their expectations too high often spend more time being disappointed than enjoying their trip.

Sure, hotels, restaurants, and sites can all be misrepresented online, so best to keep your expectations modest. Then you can be pleasantly surprised!

7. Too Tight Connection Time

Thought this sounds like a great name for a rock band, when making connection times too tight is risky. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t made this mistake. It’s a biggie and can have you sprinting and sweating, or spending the night in the airport having missed your flight.

It’s tempting to schedule tight connection times because as I mentioned before, spending too much time in airports isn’t much fun compared to being at your destination and enjoying the sites. But all you have to do is test this once and have it backfire on you and you’ll never schedule a tight connection again.

8. Packing Liquids & Other Valuable “No-Nos” In Your Carry-on Bags

common travel mistakes with carry-on luggage

You would think everyone would be aware of these restrictions by now. I once forgot to remove my small Swiss Army knife from my carry-on luggage. That was a hard lesson to learn. Pay attention to your carry-on items so you don’t have to forfeit them.

9. Hanging Your Purse Or Backpack On A Chair In A Restaurant

I don’t think I’m paranoid, but I’m always aware of where my backpack is. Even at home, it’s a good practice not to hang valuables off the back of a chair in a restaurant. I once saw a guy lose his camera bag like this.

Final Thoughts

It’s true that travel mistakes can mean learning the hard way. But it’s the learning that’s important! Learning how to avoid travel mistakes is an ongoing process. Have you made any of these mistakes I mentioned? How do you avoid them? Stay tuned for more on the best ways to avoid making travel mistakes!

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Marshall April 15, 2023 - 2:03 pm

I agree with #1. Print your travel itinerary. When traveling in many countries, especially in Asia you cannot enter the airport unless you have a ticket and sometimes you can’t get internet to pull up your info on your phone. So if you are overseas you should always have your ticket or itinerary printed out.

Shelli April 15, 2023 - 3:29 pm

I totally agree, Marshall. The first time the internet fails us, it’s a vote for printed itineraries! Thanks for taking the time to add to the conversation.


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