Common Travel Mistakes

The ability to travel and see the world, in theory, does not sound all that complicated. However, there are so many things that ideally fall into place in order to make that happen and in order to make the experience an enjoyable one.
You set out with the best of intentions and spend copious amounts of planning and preparation, but to what avail? To ensure you show up to the airport on time? (Much easier said than done)  

I speak from first hand experience when I share these tips and common mistakes, especially when it comes to traveling abroad. I write this to ensure that you learn from mistakes that I have made or I have been privy to throughout my travels. What I want for you, is to not only to make the utmost of your travels, but to also come away with the knowledge to share with others as well.

Most Common Travel Mistakes:

  • Not having some sort of credit card- You will not be able to rent a car without an actual credit card. Most rental companies will NOT accept a debit card.
  • Not having travelers insurance- MOST IMPORTANT: I have seen scooter deaths, tourists being dragged to the hospital first hand. Travelers insurance is less than $200 for the year and covers so much. You can purchase this online very easily and there are many reputable companies out there. They will cover something as simple as food poisoning to catastrophic motorcycle accident. Not all areas are near hospitals, you might need to be airlifted and your regular insurance WILL NOT cover that.
  • Not having a card that waves international transaction fees- Not only are you charged a fee at the ATM when withdrawing cash, your bank charges you an additional fee on the back end as well. This will add up to sometimes $10 per transaction. (Chase Bank and Charles Schwab waive these)
  • Selecting ‘accept conversion’ at an ATM while withdrawing cash- it will charge you a THIRD fee.
  • Overstaying your visa- you will pay a fine or worse, not be able to re-enter the country. Pay attention to the dates you arrive. Europe allows a three month visit with no visa required. Some countries require a visa upon entry and they only last a certain amount of time.
  • Not reading hotel reviews on Airbnb, hotels.com, Google, etc.- User generated reviews are the real deal. Your fellow travelers offer more insight than the pretty pictures the company featured online. 
  • Not haggling- In most cultures, this is actually expected and a common practice. 
  • Confirming prices with cab drivers, tuk-tuk drivers before getting into the vehicle- in some areas, they will pull a switch on you and demand a different price if it is not set upon engaging. Not all countries have Uber or Uber-like services.
  • Mapping out your route, twice- Screen shot your route as well because you are bound to lose service at one point. (or do it the old fashion way and have a map)
  • Checking what time public transportation shut down- Some countries' transportation organizations go on strike, and often. Do not get stranded. 
  • Researching appropriate dress attire for the country that you are in- not only is it a respectful practice, it will keep you out of unwanted situations. 
  • Researching cultural faux pas’s before you visit- certain gestures are often seen as obscene in some cultures. Don't be THAT person.
  • Not having a back up plan- sometimes things will not go as planned, or things will be closed, or no longer there. So set out a plan B before you hit the road.
  • Not checking the weather, daily- weather can severely affect your travels, especially if you are commuting by boat. 
  • Never give your passport information to non-reputable rental companies- always get receipts and documentation.
  • Never put down a deposit for rentals- You should pay when you return it.
  • Not having an international drivers permit for car and motorcycle- you will either get a fine or jail time. It varies per country so you can visit AAA to find out the local laws on driving.
  • Not setting up travel alerts with your bank- the bank will shut your card down for 'suspicious activity' without warning you. (especially if you are traveling between multiple countries)
  • Not using a SIM card or a cell phone provider that international is included- Verizon charges $10/day in addition to your plan charges. If you are going to be traveling for longer than 4 days, buy a local SIM card when you arrive at the airport, they are $40 or less. (see the math there) OR get T-mobile because it's included in your plan.
  • Not having a VPN- Netflix, HBO, Showtime will not work without a VPN in most countries. Trust me, it's worth it, especially if you work remote.
  • Not having digital copies of important documents and identification - You are bound to lose things, you are imperfect. (I hate to break it to you) Also, send a copy to a trusted person back home.
  • Not having extra passport photos- You will need them for new visas and you won't always have access to a photo facility.
  • Bringing too much luggage- You will regret this as you continuously pay for baggage fees which drastically vary between airline carriers. I promise you, it will add up and break the bank sooner than later. (Additionally, you end up wearing the same few items over and over again)
  • Not researching airline policies- FEES! Each airline functions entirely different than the next. If you have to, call them and ask. These fees are bound to add up. For ex: not all airlines allow luggage to be carried on (even if it fits) So you will pay additional fees.
  • Not researching national holidays and what they entail- In Bali, they have a holiday called Nyepi. It is known as a day of silence, meditation and reflection. The government shuts down all power and WiFi to the island. Had I not known this and prepared for it, I would have starved, I would have missed work, and if you are caught on the streets, you get arrested! More importantly, I wouldn't have enjoyed the holiday thoroughly for what it was because I would have been so concerned with how I was going to eat had I not prepared. 
  • Not knowing local laws- A slight drug offense in some countries will possibly get you imprisoned for life or worse, death penalty. This is serious stuff and should not be taken lightly.
  • Not bringing essentials- like toilet paper. In jest, I might say this is the most important one. Not all countries have stops with restrooms that are frequent along your route. Do not set yourself up for major failure here. (my years of camping prepared me for this one)
  • WEAR A HELMET- Do you currently like the way your face looks? Let's keep it that way. If you choose to get on a scooter or bike or ATV, even as a passenger, please PLEASE wear a helmet. 
  • Download Google Translate app- If you download it, you will be able to use it offline and have conversations with people, because contrary to what you might think, not all countries speak English. Remember, you are in their country, so try to immerse yourself. 
Moral of the story is, you can never be too prepared. Your whole purpose for traveling is to have an amazing time, is it not? So do yourself a favor and take the extra time to ensure that.