College Student Travel Mistakes and Mishaps to Avoid

By Alyssa Laffitte on January 17, 2018

As college students, we love to travel. College student travel is wonderful because you get to explore the world and see new places while you are still young. However, no one is perfect, and sometimes we can make avoidable mistakes when we travel. Here are some travel mistakes and mishaps to avoid, divided into budgeting mistakes, logistical mistakes, and safety mistakes. Hopefully, these tips will help your trips run more smoothly and safely. Here we go!

College student travel planning

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Budgeting Mistakes to Avoid During College Student Travel

Budgeting is an important part of planning any trip, especially for a young college student traveler. It’s easy to spend too much money if you don’t know how to save money while booking your trip. Here are some tips to help you properly budget your trip.

1. Not checking nearby airports

Sometimes, you can get a cheaper, shorter flight to the same destination if you fly out of a different airport. (For example, you can often find a cheaper flight to the same place if you fly out of an airport in Fort Lauderdale, FL instead of Miami, FL. This trick has saved me quite a bit of money!) When you are looking for flights, check the “nearby airports” option to see if other airports can offer you a better deal. You might have to drive a little longer to get to the airport, but it can save you some money in the end.

2. Not taking advantage of student discounts

Many airlines and travel agencies offer discounts for college student travel. Be sure to take advantage of this and save some money. A simple Google search for “travel student discounts” will yield many results that will help you find flights for much less money than typical travel planning websites. Becoming a member of one of these websites might end up helping you a lot.

3. Not monitoring the price

It’s no secret that flight prices can fluctuate dramatically depending on the day. If you book a flight the first time you see it, you might not be getting the best deal, because the price might go down tomorrow or the day after. Use a price predicting or price notification tool to let you know when your flight is at its cheapest. Some places, like Google, will send you an email to let you know. If you’re using Google, sign up for the “Track price” feature. Then, be ready to book it!

4. Not taking extra fees into account

More often than not, the price you see on the flight won’t be final price you pay. Many airlines get you to pay more by charging you extra for extra bags or for preferred seating. Take these extra hidden fees into account when budgeting for your trip.

5. Spending too much money on souvenirs

Of course, it’s great to bring home something to remember your trip by or to buy something for your mom while you are away. Still, be wise about the amount of money you spend on these things. Before you leave, it’s a good idea to set a budget for how much money you will allow yourself to spend on souvenirs. This way, you can buy knick-knacks to take home without breaking the bank.

Logistical Mistakes to Avoid During College Student Travel

college student travel mistakes to avoid

Infographic by Alyssa Laffitte

Along with avoiding financial mistakes, you must also avoid logistical mistakes. Many mistakes can be avoided if you simply take the time to plan your college student travel. You want to be as prepared as possible, and planning ahead will help you with that. Avoiding these logistical mistakes will make your trip go easier and smoother.

1. Overpacking

It’s very easy to overpack when you’re excited about a trip. However, packing more will make your suitcase heavier. When you overpack, you will have to deal with more stuff and possibly more charges from the airline. Also, packing light will give you more room in your suitcase for the few small souvenirs you will bring home. Only pack what you need, you will thank yourself in the end.

2. Not giving yourself appropriate time to switch planes

If you have to take multiple flights to get to your destination, give yourself enough time to do so. Sometimes, your first flight will be delayed, causing you to be late for your connecting flight. This is the last thing you need after a long day of traveling. (I speak from experience. I had to bolt through an airport once to get to my connecting flight on time!) Give yourself ample time to find the terminal at the second airport without stress, especially if you know it’s a big or busy airport. It’s much better to arrive at your second airport early and sit and wait for your connecting flight rather than having to run through the airport to catch your next flight (like I did).

3. Not packing appropriately for the weather at your destination

This mistake is one I am careful to avoid since I am a Florida girl who doesn’t have much experience with cold weather. Before traveling, check the weather of your destination city so you can plan your outfits for your trip accordingly. When I do travel to a cold place, I make sure to bring a warm coat, a scarf, and a pair of snow boots. If it will be rainy, like it is in many cities in Florida, be sure to bring an umbrella (or a rain jacket) and boots. You will be much more comfortable on your trip if you plan your outfits according to the weather at your destination.

4. Packing the wrong shoes

Similarly, it’s very important to pack the right shoes. Nothing is worse than having to travel in uncomfortable shoes. For example, if you will be walking around New York City or around a college campus, pack comfortable walking shoes that provide lots of support. Even if you will be at someplace that requires professional attire, like a conference, bring comfortable shoes. As I said before, if it is raining, bring rain boots. The wrong shoes can make your trip very difficult. Opt for comfort rather than fashion when you are traveling, and pack appropriate shoes.

5. Not taking an external charger

In this day and age, having fully charged electronics is extremely important. Aside from charging your electronics the night before, be sure to bring an external charger. Do not rely on outlets from the airport, as they are in high demand and are often taken. While waiting for a flight, you will be spending quite a bit of time on your phone or computer and needing a charge. Plus, during busy days on your trip, you will be thankful to have it. Save yourself the stress and bring along an external charger when you travel.

6. Not having a general plan

Of course, you don’t want to plan every single second of your trip. You want to have fun and enjoy your time away. Still, you should have a general idea of things you want to do and see. If you at least have an idea of what you want to do, you will be more likely to do those things. Do some research before you leave and have a general list of things you would like to see on your trip.

Safety Mistakes to Avoid

Staying safe is the number one concern for any traveler, especially if you are a college student traveler who will be traveling abroad. Use common sense and always be aware of your surroundings. These are some general tips to stay safe while traveling, but this list is definitely not exhaustive.

1. Not watching over your stuff

You should never, ever under any circumstances leave your belongings unattended. Not even for a second. No matter where you are, always keep your eye on your bag and never let it out of your sight. Or better yet, carry your things in a cross-body bag, since a bag that’s physically on you is much harder to steal.

2. Showing off your valuables

This is more relevant when you are traveling abroad, but it is still worth mentioning: do not show off your valuables. Your trip is not the time to rock your brand name purse or expensive jewelry or watch. Save those for later. When you wear expensive clothing or accessories, you are advertising that you have a lot of money, and people might be more inclined to rob you. Keep yourself safe by not showing off your valuables. Leave them at home where they will be safe.

3. Drinking too much

It is no secret that drinking alcohol or taking drugs impairs your judgment and memory. Taking too much will cause you to do things you normally would not do, including things that might put you in a dangerous position. Like I said before, your number one priority is your safety, so please know your limits and do not cross them. Please do not risk your safety for a moment of pleasure.

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International Travel Mistakes to Avoid

1. Not giving yourself enough time at the airport before leaving

As I said before, it is much better to be early and wait for your flight rather than rushing and worrying about missing it. We all know that you need to give yourself time at the airport before your flight leaves so you can print out your boarding pass and go through security, but you should give yourself even more time for international flights because the procedures are slightly different. For example, if you are checking in a luggage, your luggage has to be dropped off well in advance of your flight’s departure time (usually an hour before departure time, but this varies depending on the airline). Compensate for this different procedure by arriving at the airport extremely early, as it will give you enough time to do everything you need to do without stressing out.

2. Not notifying your bank ahead of time

Whenever you travel abroad, you should let your bank know. This way, they will know that a charge coming from a foreign country is, in fact, you and not someone who stole your credit card information. If you do not tell them about your trip, they will assume someone stole your information and will not let your card go through. Avoid this big mess by simply notifying your bank about your trip before you leave.

3. Not respecting the country’s code

Again, this is more relevant when traveling abroad, but it’s important to note that whenever you are in another country, you should respect the country’s “code.” This might mean different things depending on which country you are in. For example, it is considered disrespectful to show your shoulders in some religious buildings, or certain gestures that are normal in the United States could be considered vulgar in other countries. In other words, learn about the cultural norms in the country you will be visiting, and respect them.

4. Not knowing the language at all

Similarly, when traveling abroad, it is always useful to learn at least a little bit of the country’s language before you go. Even knowing a few common phrases will help you a lot! I recommend using DuoLingo to help with this, since it’s a fun app that makes learning a new language seem like an addictive game. Not everyone at your destination will know English, so please be prepared by knowing at least a tiny bit of the language.

Traveling as a college student is a unique and special experience that I recommend for every student. Still, there are some tips you should keep in mind to make your trip as stress-free as possible. First, be mindful of how much you are spending. When you are looking to book your flight, use your student discount and explore the option of flying out of a different, nearby airport to save you money. Once you’ve found your flight, track the price of the flight so you can book it when it’s at its cheapest. Second, plan the logistics ahead of time. Give yourself enough time to get to your destination, and pack appropriate clothes and shoes for the weather at your destination. You don’t have to have a “set in stone” plan, but it’s good to have a rough idea of what you want to do once you get there. Finally, use common sense and stay safe. If you follow these tips, you will have a fun and safe trip.

23, ISFJ. Biology student. College lifestyle blogger. Avid reader and writer. Dog lover. Nerd. Boyband enthusiast. Superhero in training. Here to help you become the best you can be!

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