Travel mistakes are inevitable, we’re all human! But often this comes down to being careless or ill-prepared so we’ve compiled a list of the top travel mistakes, in the hopes you can avoid some of them on your next vacation adventure!
1- Keeping all your money & credit cards in the same spot
It’s never fun when your belongings get stolen, in fact, it is the absolute pits! What’s worse is when everything is stolen and you have zero backup cash or credit cards! Avoid putting all your money on the one money wallet. Simple. Your belongings can be replaced but if you’re left with no cash, you’re going to struggle to get anywhere. We learned this the hard way when my handbag was stolen in Port Douglas, Australia while we were sleeping, with both of our wallets containing everything inside! If it wasn’t for a kind man at the car rental store who gave us money, we wouldn’t have made our flight home to Sydney. Be smart about where you keep your money.
2- Not backing up your photos
This is very important! I am so thankful for such a geek husband who backs up our photos almost every second day, in 4 separate locations. In the cloud using Dropbox, on our computer, a backup drive and select ones on Facebook. Some people may think that is too much but photos are so important to us. There would be nothing more devastating than losing 18 months of travel photos or any amount of travel photos! Dropbox is easy to set up and can auto-sync all your new photos. Create an account at DropBox and follow the instructions. Your memories are one of the most valuable things you take away from your trips!
3- Locking in plans too far in advance (for longer trips)
There are definitely pros and cons to planning and it all depends on where you’re going and the time of year. Whilst it’s great to have a basic outline, over planning can really backfire and lead to disappointments, limit your experiences and sometimes lose your money. Taking things as they come, allows you to meet people along the way, learn and visit places outside of guidebooks & allows flexibility to extend or lengthen the amount of time you’ve allocated somewhere.
The only reason we pre-book far in advance is when we know there’s an event on or super high summer seasons in popular destinations, otherwise, hotels and transport are booked only a couple of days before we move on to the next place. Look for free cancellation hotels if you must book in advance.
4- Carrying too many clothes
If there’s one thing we both don’t abide by, it’s this. We carry way too many clothes! Laundry is available, worldwide so there is no need to carry 20 tank tops (yes, I am carrying 20 tank tops) or 3 pairs of shorts. Whilst it’s great to have options when you’re backpacking, no one pays attention, nor knows if you outfit repeat! Once you’ve packed, 1/2 your load and you’ll be more comfortable with your pack on your back and you’ll allow more room for souvenirs (& new clothes!) along the way.
See our guide on Carry-On Luggage Size Chart of 181 Airlines.
5- Not informing your bank about your upcoming travel plans
Fraud is everywhere so when your bank sees a transaction for $500 across the other side of the world, they won’t hesitate to block your credit card. It’s great protection but it’s a pain in the royal backside to call them and go through the security process of unblocking your card. Be sure to tell your bank prior, even if it is a short trip. It’ll save the hassle once you’re away. Even though we told our bank every single country we planned on visiting, they’ve still blocked our card numerous times. In 17 months, we’ve have had to get 6 new cards for actual real fraud (card skimming is a huge problem throughout South America).
6- Packing without packing cubes
These babies are everything to us and have no doubt saved us from complete chaos in our backpacks. They come in multiple sizes on Amazon and can fit a surprisingly decent amount of belongings inside each. We use them for winter and summer clothes and when we reach our hotel it takes all of 3 seconds to ‘unpack’ and repack. Do yourself a favor and get these brilliant creations, especially if you use a backpack.
7- Forgetting to add paid baggage to your flight BEFORE arriving at the airport
This is a KILLER! Budget airlines such as Ryan Air, Aegean (Europe), Spirit Airlines (USA), SAS airlines (Scandinavia), Air Asia (Asia) and many others have really sneaky hidden baggage fees. Why else are their base tickets so cheap? When booking your ticket online, ALWAYS check what type of ticket you have, if it says anything involving flex, or low then check if it included your baggage. If not, add it in BEFORE getting to the airport. We were stung $150 USD for 2 checked bags in Scandinavia (which was later refunded thanks to many emails) and our friends paid a whopping $118 USD for one bag with Air Asia. Whilst the online fees are still high, they are at least 1/4 the cost of purchasing at the airport. Better yet, why don’t they just include this in the damn ticket price!
8- Staying in the most touristic part of a city
Everyone wants to be close to the action but staying in the center of any major big city brings a considerably higher hotel and restaurant costs, chaos & not to mention you’re surrounded by every other tourist. Try Airbnb or smaller boutique hotels and stay in shoulder neighborhoods. It’s fun to see how a city runs outside of the tourist center.
9- Forgetting to change currency before leaving the country
A few times, we’ve found certain currencies tucked away into the “emergency” pockets in our wallets. Larger currencies such as Euro, USD, Pound can be changed over at most airports but unfortunately, there have been a few times we haven’t been able to change the money to anything else, such as Argentian Pesos or Croatian Kuna, so it goes to waste. Check all your pockets before you change countries.
10- Travelling without travel insurance
If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. The end. Travel insurance is the single most important thing to have before you leave on your trip. ANYTHING can happen when you’re overseas and it is so reassuring for yourself and your families to know you have the coverage should anything go wrong. World Nomads are a great travel insurance company and we’ve used them for the last 2 years. Even if its basic coverage, it’s something.
11- Exchanging currency at the airport
Almost always, exchanging money at the airport will give you the worst rate, due to their high commissions or shitty exchange rates. We recommend withdrawing from an ATM at the airport & exchange money in the cities where you’ll get a more competitive rate. Or bring cash from home first for shorter trips.
12- Having unrealistic expectations
Everyone has expectations, for everything, but sometimes going on vacation without them is the best thing you can do. No expectations leave no room for disappointment! Go with the flow & don’t expect everything to go perfectly. Those professional photos that were taken of your hotel pool? Surprise, it looks nothing like them. The fruit bowl and champagne in the room photos? Hmm… also a negative. It has taken this long for my patience to be at this level but now it’s here, it changes everything. Your mood, your mind, your attitude. Arrive into each country with a fresh open mind and take things as they come! Remember: nothing is as perfect as it seems in a brochure or online!
13- Leaving yoursoap/shampooo bottles open in your checked-in luggage
Our toiletries bag has had more than one soaking of shampoo or soap. Now, we keep our sunscreen, conditioners and soaps in little plastic bags when we fly. Even when the lids are closed, something always makes its way open mid-flight and showers the rest of our toiletries with the contents of the bottle. Make sure your lids are working and if the bottle is full, wrap it in a plastic bag to prevent a soapy mess.
14- Drinking the tap water in certain countries
When you’re used to drinking water right from the tap in most western countries, it’s difficult to change to bottled only. If you’re ever unsure if tap water is drinkable, make sure you check or you could ruin a good day or 2 of your travels in the bathroom or even worse, hospital. If you’re traveling extensively, it is worth investing in a purified water bottle that does all the hard work for you. They don’t come cheap but in the long run, you’ll save a tonne of money and plastic waste on bottled water.
15- Not negotiating taxi/rickshaw/tuk tuk fares before hand.
Many countries, especially in Asia, don’t have meters inside their taxis and especially not in rickshaws/tuk tuks. Fares need to be negotiated before you get in. ALWAYS ask how much or they can easily charge you 3x the amount once they drop you off. Be sure to research a usual cab fare & currency exchange before you arrive in a country so you’ve more prepared.
Do you have any other travel mistakes to add? Let us know!