10 Common Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Travel mistakes are inevitable. With so many decisions to make and so much organisation, it’s easy to slip up and make one of these very forgivable mistakes when travelling. Here are ten of the most common mistakes and the travel tips you need to make sure they don’t happen to you, or at least, don’t happen again.
1. The overstuffed itinerary
“Two weeks in Italy? Well, we have to go to Rome, and Pisa, and Florence and Venice and you can’t go to Italy and miss Tuscany, and then there’s Amalfi Coast…” Overstuffed itineraries are the curse of many travellers, and they’re easy to spot because the overambitious traveller ends up spending half of their holiday travelling between places they wish they could spend more time in. This goes double for travellers who don’t leave enough time between their connecting flights, trains or other transportation. To overcome this common travel mistake, think flexibility. Traffic, weather, transport problems, budgetary constraints, there can be dozens of reasons why you’ll need to be ready to change your plans, and one of the best plans you can make is a return trip.
2. The overstuffed travel bag
The ability to pack what you need is an ancient wisdom that seems to be only born from mistakes when travelling, or tips from those more experienced. Laundries exist in some form wherever you’re going. You might baulk at wearing the same outfit two days in a row at home, but when travelling no one will notice. A good travel tip is pack, then halve. You can also buy clothes and accessories at your destination, possibly at a much cheaper price. When trying to squeeze that bag into an overhead locker, you’ll be glad you did.
3. Not sticking to your budget
Good budgeting can make a traveller resourceful and can open up possibilities. For someone else, that same travel budget can be an obstruction and a limitation. Being realistic and allowing for unexpected additional expenses is essential to good travelling. You shouldn’t have your hard-earned holiday derailed by one travel mistake.
4. Not notifying the bank of overseas transactions
Plenty of banks will spot the use of your credit or debit card overseas as "unusual activity" and put a hold on it as a temporary measure. Every other day, you'd be very glad they did, but the end of your first meal in a new country is not a good time to find out you forgot to let them know.
5. Not backing up photos
Given the number of places you’ll see, meals you’ll have and different rooms you’ll sleep it, it’s an uncommon traveller that leaves with everything every time. One travel tip that can save a lot of grief is a small hard drive to which you can back up your photos. A lost camera is unfortunate, and losing photos can be truly awful. Getting in the habit of backing your photos up every day, and keeping your hard drive in your luggage, reduces the chance of this happening.
6. Travelling with the wrong company
It’s fair enough that if you arrive in Paris with a friend, they might want to spend the day at the Louvre, while you might want to hit the fashion boutiques. But do you both have the same expectations when it comes to accommodation, transport, eating out or nightlife? How are your budgets, your communication and your blood/sugar levels between meals? All these things can make or break a fun holiday with a friend and its best to match expectations where possible and embrace flexibility when you can’t.
7. Not researching visas
Top travel tip: know before you go. A quick visit to VisaLink can save hundreds of dollars and weeks of a holiday if you’re planning on heading overseas. An Australian passport means you can visit 169 countries without a visa, which is great news, but it’s also worth knowing what each country expects before you arrive. The US has its own procedures that must be worked out before you get to the airport. Common destinations like India, Brazil, Cambodia and Canada require Australians to have a visa. Applying for a visa is a painless process, but only if you do it in advance.
8. Time Zones and jet lag
It’s easy to forget to take into account time zones when you’re planning your trip. It’s also worth remembering that time zones can sometimes change within a country so it’s worth double-checking travel times. If you’re travelling with a smart device like and iPhone or iPad, check to see if it will be automatically correcting its time depending on your location. It’s worth budgeting a day or two for jet lag if you’re making a big trip.
9. Cultural insensitivity
If you’re travelling to a country known for its strong religious beliefs, its best to learn what passes for ‘normal’. Clothing, statements, even gestures can be deemed offensive in certain places at certain times, and learning these will definitely allow you to have a more fulfilling and enjoyable experience.
10. Unrealistic expectations
Expectations are unavoidable, but sometimes it’s best to leave them at the airport. Expecting things not to go perfectly, and being ready to accept the unplanned surprising turn of events can be the most memorable and exciting part of a holiday. Hotels will lure you with unrealistic photos, restaurant recommendations can disappear with the firing of a chef, museums and galleries often close one or two days a week, it can rain for a whole month. Only a “go with the flow” attitude can turn these from being disappointments into opportunities or defining features of a holiday. Each could be the beginning of a travel story you tell for decades to come, as long as you check those expectations.