Tips and advice

11 Travel Mistakes to Avoid

Even a trip to a beach location with nothing on the agenda but laying out in a lounge chair can take a turn for the worse if you make one of these 11 common travel mistakes.


One of the biggest, and sometimes costliest, mistakes is over-packing. Take it from somebody who always relies on public transportation to and from the airport (me), you do not want to carry a single pound more than you have to when traveling. Tips for lightening up your suitcase:

  • Pack everything you think you'll need and make it a goal to reduce it by 1/3. Think of all the souvenirs you'll be able to fit.
  • Pick a single neutral color to base outfits off of (such as black vs. brown) to reduce the number of shoes, purses, etc. that you'll need.
  • Pack a single, lightweight pair of pajamas that take up minimal space.
  • Unless you're going somewhere extremely remote, instead of packing that extra fill-in-the-blank, plan on buying one as a souvenir if you find that you really needed it instead.
  • Wear your bulkiest items to the airport. Boots, jackets, hats, etc.

Not Buying the Souvenir That Caught Your Eye

Is the potential difference in price you might find at another vendor worth the risk of missing out? Don't skip on buying something you want if you're not sure you can find it at another location. (Remember the Modern Family episode when Haley convinces Lily to hold out on buying a souvenir in Australia because she's bound to stumble upon something better? Spoiler alert: she doesn't and that feeling of missing out is all too familiar for many of us.) That being said, don't buy a large souvenir the first day if you'll have to lug it around everywhere you go.

Not Packing Sensible (Comfortable) Shoes

Unless you're planning on cabbing it everywhere and doing minimal exploring, throw in a pair of comfortable shoes that you can walk at least three miles in without discomfort. Insider tip: do not go out and buy new shoes or sandals and expect them not to be uncomfortable, wear them in a little first.

"Winging It" in Terms of Sightseeing

Lots of attractions, popular restaurants, and more require a little research, and sometimes a reservation (especially for seasonal tours and attractions) in advance. Plus, planning ahead usually means there are more opportunities to save. For example, if you know that you're going to visit multiple attractions, look for passes that save you money on combined admission, like the Go City Card which is available in lots of popular travel destinations.

Too Many (or Not Enough) Photos

Finding the perfect photo-taking to visually soaking in time ratio can be tough, and it may vary depending on your travel interests, but if your fully-charged camera battery is running on empty by noon, you might want to cut back a bit. That being said, a good goal for non-photo enthusiasts is to get two to five good images at each attraction, including at least one of themselves or other people in their travel party. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for unique skyline views or architecture of the city, too.

Not Having Reservations and Schedules On-Hand

Print out all reservation details, highlight confirmation numbers, dates, and times and keep your documents organized in chronological order of when you'll need them in a folder or envelope that you can access easily during your travels. Make copies of important travel documents like your passport, i.d., or visa. This way if you lose anything, it might help expedite the process of getting replacements and getting everything squared away.

Not Checking or Changing Your Phone and Data Plan Before You Leave

Do a little research and scope out your options for international phone and data before you travel abroad. Lots of options are very reasonable and affordable, but going over your allotted minutes or data can be a very costly mistake. Insider tip: take screenshots of reservation emails, tickets, and anything you can use with a bar code so that you don't have to use data while roaming to pull them up.

Not Checking Your Bank's Fees When Traveling

Be sure to let your bank know when you're traveling abroad, keep a list of fee-free bank ATMs you can use, and look into options for exchanging currency and consider having some on-hand for your travels, especially smaller bills and coins for tipping.

Not Making Sure Your Passport is Valid

Go look at your passport now, even if you don't have an up-coming trip planned, and put the expiration date in your calendar with a reminder to renew it about two months before its expiration. Insider tip: even if you're traveling and planning to return before your passport expires, it may not be accepted if it's close to the expiration date. Seems crazy, right?

Skimping on Accommodation Location

You might end up paying for the difference in transportation fees. Research transportation in advance and be honest about whether or not you'll really rely on public transit when it's 2:00 am, you're tired, and the streets are a little bit darker...

Not Keeping Your Valuables With You at All Times

Most people know to never hand over their valuables to a stranger, but are often taken aback when a situation arises in which they do exactly that without thinking, or because they feel pressured too. It's an easy mistake to make. Con artists are good at seeking out opportunities, such as offering to carry your luggage for you, in hopes that you'll be unprepared and too polite to take out your valuables first. Insider tip: avoid this by using a money belt or keeping your most valuable possessions, such as your passport, jewelry, cash, travelers checks, etc. in your purse, separate from your luggage, and with you at all times. That way, if you're caught off guard or afraid of coming off as rude, the worst that can happen is your luggage disappears. And maybe don't use your Louis Vuitton suitcases if you're traveling somewhere with a high-crime rating...

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