Every traveler makes mistakes. Excellent travelers learn from their errors.
Over the years, I’ve been collecting a list of the travel mistakes I’ve made and ways to avoid them, when planning for a trip and while traveling. I’ve also saved a list of the advice that readers have taken the time to send me over the years. I’m very grateful for that advice.
Here’s a list of our top 10 travel mistakes and how to avoid them.
Before you go:
Location, location, location – being too cheap when making hotel or rental choices:
You’ll pay more for a hotel or rental near or at historic districts, at the beach or in a park, but you can save angst, important time, fees and fares by choosing a location near the action. There’s a lot to say for being able to walk to sights, the beach or a hiking trail in minutes and not have to drive, take a shuttle, or other transportation.
Traveling with only credit cards from just one account:
Bank issued credit cards from the same account, typically shared by spouses and partners, have the same card number. If one of the cards is lost or stolen, all the account’s cards must be canceled. While waiting for new cards, which could take at least several days while you’re traveling, you’d have no card to pay your hotel and other large bills.
Some credit card companies, such as American Express, use different card numbers within the same account. If one is stolen, you can still use the other card. Even if your cards are from a company like Amex, especially if traveling alone, travel with at least two credit cards, each from a different account, in case of loss or theft.
Not having your passport or using one that expires soon:
If you’re traveling internationally don’t leave your passport at home, even if other identification will suffice for your trip. Emergencies happen and if you have to fly internationally in case of an emergency, you can’t do it without your passport.
Many countries require that when you arrive, your passport won’t expire for at least six months. I normally renew my passport soon after it has one year left before it expires.
Never pack your passport in your bags. Keep it on your person.
Bringing lots of electronics without plug adapters:
If you’re bringing a smartphone, tablet, camera, or other electronic gear, check to see if the countries you’re visiting use the same plugs your home country uses. If they don’t, get a plug adapter for your destinations. Also, bring a three-way extension cord so you can charge multiple devices with one plug.
Assuming all airport security is the same in every country:
The security rules in different countries vary. You’ve got to know the rules wherever you are. Recently, I found out that some small tools allowed by TSA aren’t permitted in carry-on in the U.K. I was fortunate to have had enough time to go back to the ticket counter to box and check-in my tools with my airline.
Forgetting to get an international data, text and voice plan:
If you plan to use a cellphone on your trip get an international data, text, and voice plan. If you use your phone as if you were home without an international plan, you might get a bill at the end of the month the size of a small country’s national debt.
Not thinking about wake-up time before scheduling an early morning flight:
When scheduling an early morning flight, remember your flight time isn’t your wake-up time. You’ll want to arrive at the airport at least an hour early. Add to that the time to get to the airport terminal, time to shower, dress, prepare to leave, pack a few last minute items and if you want, time for a bit of breakfast. I know many who, if they scheduled a 6 a.m. flight would have to set their alarm to 3:30 a.m.
Buying a basic economy seat for a long flight without considering it carefully:
There may not be room for your carry-on if you’re allowed one. Your seat will be in the back of the plane and among the least comfortable. You may or may not get food and beverage. Be sure you’ll be okay in the seat for hours before buying a basic economy seat for a long flight.
Not splurging for a taxi instead of taking public transportation when you have luggage:
Dragging a carry-on and checked bag between the airport and your hotel with your personal item over your shoulder or on your back can be difficult. A taxi ride, though more expensive, can be very much worth it.
Avoiding public transportation at your destination:
Cities like London, Paris, Tokyo, New York, and Philadelphia all have extensive public transportation systems including subways, rail and buses. For getting around these cities to tour them, you can’t beat public transportation. When traffic is heavy, you can whiz by it by using subways and rail to get where you’re going quickly.
I advise thoughtfully considering each of the above recommendations before your next trip. Following them could save you anxiety, serious problems, considerable time and add real comfort to your journey.
(Image: Sunset in Philadelphia, PA, Copyright © 2017 NSL Photography. All Rights Reserved.)
After many years working in corporate America as a chemical engineer, executive and eventually CFO of a multinational manufacturer, Ned founded a tech consulting company and later restarted NSL Photography, his photography business. As a well known corporate, travel and wildlife photographer, Ned travels the world writing about travel and photography, as well as running photography workshops, seminars and photowalks. Visit Ned’s Photography Blog and Galleries.