Travel can create some of the greatest memories in your life. The experiences you have while traveling & the amazing people you meet will change your life forever. If you are about to travel abroad for the first time or even if this is your 40th trip overseas there is a chance you might make a mistake that could have a negative effect on your trip.
Some mistakes might even ruin your trip completely and give you a negative impression of Travel. Great news! With appropriate planning & preparation these mistakes can be easily avoided.
001 - Over Planning
Travel is exciting and from the moment you book your flights an urge will overcome you. Let's call it 'Travel Brain.' This is most common with first time travelers, throughout all the excitement you will find yourself wanting to book and plan more and more of your journey.
Over Planning can result in a very rushed trip and leaves no room for change and spontaneity. What happens if you meet an amazing group of people who are about to embark on a secret local hike rumoured to have the most amazing view in the country.
Over Planning can ruin the spontaneity of travel. Planning is good but allow yourself plenty of time between bookings and don't plan too much.
002 - Over Packing
Packing for travel can be challenging, it is easier to just throw in every possible outfit for every possible situation. Narrowing down your packing list can be tough but putting in the time before you travel will save you a lot of money in baggage fees & remove the frustration of having to haul around too much baggage.
Be strict with what you bring and remember that you will have access to laundries along the way. Aim to bring enough clothing for a 7 day period and settle on just one pair of durable, waterproof shoes.
003 - Not Buying Travel Insurance
'Nah mate I don't need Travel Insurance!' Famous last words. No matter where you are going and no matter what gear you are taking it is always a good idea to have travel insurance. It is hard to predict what might happen to you or your equipment while overseas.
Getting hurt or having something stolen at home is bad but costs are generally covered by your local insurance and emergency transport is relatively quick and easy. Getting hurt overseas can be a nightmare logistically and stolen equipment is much harder to track down.
Do yourself a favour, get your insurance sorted before you leave and make sure it covers what you need it to cover.
004 - Not Checking the Visa Requirements
Oh this one hits far to close to home for us. On a recent trip to Vietnam I (Jacques here) decided to put all of my trust in the travel agent who informed me that I would not be needing a Visa for my travels.
As we approached the airport check in desk we were asked a simple question that would kick our trip off to a stressful start. 'Visa's please?' The moral of the story - Always, always check your destinations visa requirements. Check regularly as Visa requirements can change frequently and without warning.
If you do forget to sort out your visa's don't stress too much. Most destinations will allow you to sort out an emergency visa at a less than desirable cost.
005 - Not Carrying Local Currency
We live in a world of implanted chips, pay wave and phone tap payment. Credit Cards will become irrelevant in most first world countries within the next 5-10 years but the same cannot be said when you travel.
Yes Cash. Is essential when traveling. Having a small amount of local currency on you when you arrive at your destination is important. You will not always have access to an ATM and payment options may be limited to 'cash only.'
Carry enough to get you through the first day, that will give you plenty of time to find a working ATM.
006 - Forgetting to Check your Phone Plan
There are so many terms and conditions in phone plans nowadays, this makes it difficult to know exactly what your phone plan entitles you to. Roaming fees can add up incredibly fast and phone companies tend to delay their 'roaming fee reminders' until you have spent well over $100.
Good news! This can be easily avoided. Your first option is to check with your phone provider before you leave & add a roaming plan. If you are on a budget then take your sim out when you board the plane and purchase a local sim at your arrival airport.
007 - Messing Up Your Flights
Booking flights & connections by yourself can be a lot cheaper but you are sacrificing two important things; the first is time. It takes up a lot of time sorting out your whole itinerary so sometimes it is easiest to get the important stuff booked through an agent.
The second thing is expertise. For those of you who are inexperienced travelers we highly recommend you source some help when booking your flights. It is very easy to miss your connecting flights due to time constraints.
I had a friend who booked a connecting international flight 20 mins after their original flight was scheduled to land. The original flight was delayed by 15 mins and they missed the connection... a costly mistake.
If you aren't sure find someone who can help. Travel Agents are often the way to go for less experienced travelers or for travelers who have limited time.
Related - 16 Must Pack Carry On Items
008 - Trying to Fit Too Much Into Your Trip
Pace Yourself. Over booking your trip with activities will limit your opportunities. You will find yourself too stressed out and busy to find the local gems or interact with the people you meet along the way.
Allow yourself enough time at each destination to make long lasting connections & to discover all the location has to offer. You don't want your journey to feel like a whirlwind.
009 - Losing your Important Documents
Having your important documents stolen is the last thing you want to deal with while traveling in a foreign country. The fix is simple, keep your documents in an organised travel wallet and with you when possible. If your documents cannot be taken with you on the day then ensure they are locked up in a secure hostel/hotel lock box.
Purchase specialised RFID wallets and passport holders and have them stored in secure waist bags or neck pouches. As the saying goes, 'Out of sight, out of mind.'
010 - Forgetting to Inform Your Bank/Credit Card Company
I was walking around Charlotte, North Carolina taking in all the new sights and sounds. It was getting late so I decided to turn in for the night. I checked into the nearest Motel & handed my card over to pay the deposit. "Sir, your card declined."
Having my Credit Card blocked while on the other side of the world was a rather stressful experience. After some frantic calling I managed to get the card reactivated, I came very close to sleeping on the street.
The easiest fix to this mistake - Inform your bank of your travel intentions before you depart. The bank/credit card company will be able to wave the 'Stop Payment' that is set up on most credit cards as a safety precaution.
Check in with your bank before you leave.
011 - Not Protecting Valuable Items
During your travels it is easy to get caught up in the Wanderlust and misplace your valuables or have them stolen. Keep your valuables locked up in a hostel/hotel lock box if you are leaving your room without them. Valuable items disappear very quickly.
Purchase bags, locks & protective casing that will keep your equipment safe at all times. Just because you have an item in your backpack does not mean it is safe from thieves.
Travel can be the greatest experience of your life. Make sure it is with some basic preparations that will help you avoid costly travel mistakes in 2018.
Life is Great. Travel is Better.
Paulo & Jacques