Even the dreamiest of trips can be going off the rails when you fall into one of these all-too-common travel traps. Stick to the guidelines below, and you’re more likely to have a trip that’s memorable not for lost luggage and rushed sightseeing, but for the thrill of discovering a new place and savoring it.
- Not booking enough connection time between flights
Having only 45 minutes to connect between flights might seem doable–not to mention the siren call of less lag time spent hanging out at a dismal food court–but it’s often not enough, especially in large airports where the gates could be far apart. Don’t rely on airlines to do the math for you, either.
- Forgetting to Buy a Service Plan for Your Phone
Using your cell phone in a foreign land without an international service plan could be shockingly expensive. Best Health Web Editor Melissa Greer recently travelled to Greece and Italy for a relaxing two-week vacay. She brought her phone and turned it on infrequently, just to check emails and send a few texts back home. The results? A $1300 roaming fee from her phone company. “I was shocked,” Greer says. “I didn’t realize that turning my phone on for 30 seconds would ever cost so much!”
The solution? Contact your service provider to inquire about overseas fees and packages for voice, text and data. If you’re travelling for a longer period of time, do what Heibert did while travelling in Germany: “I bought myself a German mobile phone because it was a lot less money than taking my Blackberry,” says Heibert.
- Losing Your Passport
Amazingly, this major goof happens to the best of us, and Heibert advises all of her clients to be prepared. Make two copies of your passport, leave one at home with a friend or family member and keep the other one tucked away in your suitcase. “If your passport is lost or stolen, take the copy to your consulate so they can trace the number, cancel the original passport and issue you a new one,” she says.
TOP 10 TRAVEL MISTAKES TO AVOID
- Taking Too Much Stuff
“It’s wise to review what you’re bringing and think about what you really need and what you can layer and reuse”, Heibert advises. Regularly check weather reports for your destination to help determine what items you really need. To avoid an expensive situation at check-in, review your airline’s baggage regulations before you pack.
- Travelling Without Medical Insurance
No one likes to think about worst-case scenarios when planning a fun time away, but it pays to be prepared for accidents. What if you wipe out on a back-country cycling excursion, or for the less adventurous, slip on wet tiles at the spa? Winding up in a foreign hospital without insurance can be a huge financial blow. Make sure you have enough medical coverage and top it up if you’re not certain. Here’s hoping you never have to use it!
(Make sure you have enough medical coverage)
- Trying to do too much in one trip
A lot of people say, ‘I just want to do just one night in whatever and one night in so-and-so.’ Slow down! By the time you either load all the bags into the car, drive, and park, or you schlep all the bags onto a train, you don’t have that much of a day left. The same goes for multiple activities. Make time for wandering around. In Rome, for example, planning to see the Vatican Museums, the Colosseum, and the Forum in the same day is overkill. Really seeing the city via strolls and serendipity can be invaluable.
- Arriving Without a Place To Stay
Travelling is an adventure, but landing in an unfamiliar city without a hotel reservation could be a costly risk. You may end up paying more than you expect for a last-minute room if economical accommodations are all booked up. Plus, wandering around jetlagged and desperate for a place to rest probably isn’t your idea of super-fun spontaneity. You should at least book your first night because when you arrive you’ll be tired and you’ll want a place to put your suitcases down.
- Not reading the entire listing when you’re looking to do a short-term apartment or house rental
Establishing trust is crucial when you’d like to book a stay in someone else’s home instead of a hotel, so asking the host to repeat themselves doesn’t win you many brownie points. If the host feels comfortable with you, the more likely you are to score the rental you want. To show genuine interest, if the host mentions in the listing that she has a cat, for example, indicate in your initial message that you love cats. Reading carefully can also skyrocket you to the top of a choice apartment’s rental list if they’re screening out less conscientious guests.
- Arriving Clueless About Transportation
Have you ever imagined how you’ll get from the airport to your hotel, or to the quaint little town you want to explore? Winging it with transportation can really ratchet up the expense of your trip. Cabs can be surprisingly expensive in some cities, so do your research on options for public transportation. If you’re planning to take the train, just buy rail passes before you depart.
- Sticking To The Tourist Traps
While you’ll certainly want to see the Eiffel Tower and stroll the Champs-Élysée, visiting smaller destinations and less-trafficked sites could significantly reduce the cost of your trip. And it’s amazing that some of the most interesting places are not big tourist centers.