Traveling is the most fun activity in the world to us at Travel Hacking Mom! But just because we do it often, and for nearly free, doesn’t mean we haven’t made our share of blunders. Here are 10 of our travel mistakes, in the hope that we can save you from doing the same!
I well remember the time I traveled with my daughters to Italy and overpacked. Trying to quickly get on trains with two pieces of luggage was NOT fun! Add to the fact that I am older and slower and weaker, it was very stressful. I vowed then to quit overpacking and traveling has been much easier!
One of the first mistakes I made when I started international travel cost me a lot of money. This was 20+ years ago and I wasn’t travel hacking so I was on a strict budget. I was an RN and my source of travel income was extra shifts. My family used to joke that, if I wanted to do something, I’d always find “an extra shift”.
One of my daughters was in London for a semester abroad and I went to pick her up and spend a week there with her. When I went to check into the hotel, they told me they had expected me the night before. I had made my reservation starting with the day I left home. I forgot that I would be on the airplane that first night! Talk about a rookie travel mistake! That mistake cost me about $250! (London is very expensive)! I haven’t done that again but I almost did! Double-check your booking dates and flight dates – in fact, have someone else recheck them. It just might save you a lot of money!
Negotiate taxi fares before getting into a cab to avoid ripoffs. Also, ask the hotel you are staying at what color the reputable taxies are.
One time in Hanoi, my friend and I were tired so we hailed a taxi from the road. He refused to drive up to our nice hotel and told us the cost of the taxi which was about $40 – a lot for Asia! He refused to let us out until we paid. We found out from the hotel our fare should have been about $7. They also told us what color taxis were metered and reputable.
I usually stay in branded hotels so feel comfortable taking any taxi from them. Additionally, you can call the hotel to send a cab to pick you up. Don’t forget to grab a business card from the hotel too, in the country’s language, so you can let the driver to know where to take you in case you have language barriers.
Before you book your international trip do these 3 things:
I had a very stressful day in Boston when I had traveled there with plans to go to London the next day. In the hotel that night I decided to check-in for my flight. Imagine my horror when I found out I had brought my old passport! I had to stay in Boston an extra day, spend extra money to get an expedited passport, including getting new passport pictures. And I had to figure out the ins and outs of this huge new city on my own. Keep old passports far away from your current passport.
Another lady at the hotel that I was at was doing the same thing because her passport was going to expire 3 months after her return and so she couldn’t use it. Know those rules.
I have traveled to some countries that have said you need to have a certain number of blank pages. Be sure and check that out if your passport is getting full like mine is now. I have to get another passport soon because mine is almost full and it doesn’t expire for 4 more years. Gotta love travel hacking!
If you happen to lose your passport while traveling, it is easier to get it replaced if you have a copy of it. I always travel with a copy so that I can more easily correct this possible travel mistake.
Travel insurance saved my sister a lot of money in Mexico, bought me new clothes when I traveled to Greece (and my luggage was lost), and bought Alex a new stroller when hers was ruined traveling. We are big advocates for travel insurance!
Some countries have visa requirements. Be sure and check these out when planning foreign travel. I didn’t know that Vietnam had this requirement and would have spent a ton of time taking care of this if I hadn’t searched beforehand. Luckily, most of it was able to be handled online before arrival. You definitely don’t want to be surprised on arrival that you haven’t taken care of visa requirements! Here is a good site to check on visa requirements.
Make sure you have plenty of time between flights so a late first flight doesn’t make you miss your main flight – especially if you are traveling internationally. If you are positioning for a flight, this is especially important. I’ve spent too many anxious moments wondering if I am going to make a connection! Missing a connection is a travel mistake that I want to avoid!
I was once on a cruise and they declined my charges. What??? Turns out that they thought it was a fraud. I hadn’t told them about my travel plans. Now I always do that online before I travel.
It is also a good idea NOT to plan on only using an American Express card. Many foreign countries don’t take them. I try and bring 2 or 3 different credit cards (all without foreign transaction fees, of course).
Redeeming points for award travel during peak vacation or holiday times is always going to be tougher and more expensive. Especially don’t try and do it last minute. You might get lucky with one ticket but it will be considerably harder to obtain more. Sometimes you get lucky with last-minute redemptions but I would never count on it.
Chances are you have a credit card that will get you into an airport lounge. This is a great way to save on food and beverages. I have had a shower in between flights or taken a nap in a comfy lounger! It is the best way to take the sting out of travel. Even if you don’t have a credit card that gets you into one, sometimes it is worth buying a day pass for one.
Traveling is what we are all about but even though we travel quite a bit, we’ve made our share of mistakes. We hope you learn from us and avoid these 10 travel mistakes! What blunders traveling have you had?
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