15 Common and Costly Travel Mistakes to Avoid

By Kailey Walters on March 21, 2019

With spring break coming up or already underway, there are many opportunities to travel. From cross country road trips to flights halfway around the world, the sky’s the limit… right?

Of course, you want to have fun and be adventurous during your travels, but you also want to be responsible while doing so. That means putting in the necessary time and effort to plan ahead for your trip and make sure you have all the bases covered, from your travel itinerary to food to where you’ll be staying to miscellaneous expenses.

With that being said, read on for some tips on how to avoid some of the most common and costly travel mistakes.

via Pexels.com

Before the Trip

Even before you embark on your trip, it’s important to take the proper precautions to lessen the possibility of mistakes as much as possible. That means when it comes to planning things out, you should be careful and make smart, informed decisions.

You should avoid:

1. Forgetting to shop around for the best sales and deals.

This can happen all too easily to you, whether you’re booking your trip online or in person. You don’t want to make the mistake of booking the very first vacation package or flight that you see or hear about, because then you’ll be neglecting all the other deals out there. Sure, it can be tempting to just go for it when you see something you like, but playing it safe and weighing all the other available options is the better bet. If you’re searching online, you should especially take advantage of all the great deals and savings you can find on the Internet.

When it comes to booking any flight, hotel, or travel package, a particularly good rule of thumb is to compare prices on at least three different online portals, such as Travelocity, Expedia, and Priceline. It’s also a good idea to compare the prices of travel packages with those offered by hotels and airlines that you could book directly on your own. Comparing prices will help you figure out how you can get the best bang for your buck so that you don’t end up overspending unnecessarily. And ultimately, digging deeper on the Internet will always lead you to a plethora of options that you can sort through to find the best deals.

infographic, travel, avoid travel mistakes

Infographic by Kailey Walters

2. Not signing up for travel rewards or airline miles.

One thing you should definitely take advantage of while traveling is travel rewards cards, which often offer hotel points and airline miles. Travel rewards are essentially great, money-saving ways to earn bonuses and goodies. As long as you have good credit and can pay off your monthly credit card balances, you should be good to go.

3. Not exchanging international currency from the right place.

If you’re taking a trip abroad, you’ll definitely need to exchange some currency. While there are many places you can go to exchange money, such as banks, the airport, or individual currency exchange establishments, being smart about which place you choose can make a world of difference. Do your research and figure out which place offers the best exchange rates so you won’t walk away with less money than you deserve.

4. Not checking what kind of cell phone plan you have.

This one can be especially dangerous if you’re traveling out of the country. It’s important to be aware of your own cell phone plan so that you avoid getting charged for data roaming and other fees you weren’t even aware of. If you discover your data isn’t covered by your cell phone plan in a foreign country, make sure to turn your data off before you get on the plane. And if you really want or need to use data at your destination but want to avoid ridiculous fees, you might consider purchasing an international phone plan or a SIM card there.

5. Not looking into student discounts.

Lots of establishments offer student discounts, and the travel industry is no exception. A quick search for airlines and travel agencies that offer college student discounts is sure to yield a plethora of helpful results. Even if these might not seem like huge discounts, don’t hesitate to take advantage of them — every little bit helps when you’re a college student!

6. Packing too much.

You may be tempted to pack an outfit for every occasion or some extra shoes and clothes “just in case,” but beware of the danger of overpacking. Filling your suitcase with too much stuff can easily put you over the tipping point for overweight baggage at the airport, which you want to avoid as much as possible to avoid paying extra fees. Plus, overpacking just means you’ll be hauling around an unnecessarily large and heavy suitcase … and nobody wants that. Instead, do your best to pack light by coming up with a handy, thoughtful packing list that only includes items you absolutely need. You’ll be thanking yourself later.

7. Neglecting to get your car checked out if you’re going on a road trip.

Imagine this: you’re cruising down the highway, jamming out to your favorite songs on your specially prepared road trip playlist, and just having an awesome time with your friends when your car suddenly starts to make weird noises you’ve never heard before. Worried, you find a place to pull over and discover there’s something wrong with the engine. An even worse scenario might involve your car stalling out in the middle of the highway with no time to pull over somewhere else … and then what would you do?

Imagining these scenes is no fun, and getting caught in one for real is surely even more anxiety-inducing. To that end, if you’re going on a road trip it’s important that you set aside time beforehand to get your car fully serviced, which includes inspection of tires, brakes, fluids, and the engine. Doing so will afford you peace of mind so that you don’t have to stress about what could potentially go wrong with your car.

At the Airport

8. Not knowing the airline’s policies.

Doing your homework on the airline’s policies is of utmost importance if you want things to go smoothly while traveling. Familiarize yourself with your boarding time and flight time, and make sure you have everything you need before you leave your house: passport, pertinent flight information, and anything else that is necessary. You should also become familiar with the airline’s baggage policy, i.e., how many checked bags and carry-on bags you can have and how much each bag is allowed to weigh. Knowing this information is important so that you don’t end up getting charged for overweight luggage or are unable to bring all of your bags onto the plane with you.

9. Not getting to the airport on time.

While this snafu can be avoided relatively easily, it’s also one of the most costly mistakes (in terms of money and time) to make on this list. I can speak from personal experience: upon arriving at the Malaysian airport only ten minutes after the boarding gate had closed, I not only had to shell out $250 for the next flight to Tokyo (in addition to what I had originally paid for the flight I missed), but also had to wait another eight hours in the airport — which meant setting the rest of my trip back and messing up my sleep schedule for the night. The moral of the story here is that you should always be on time for your flights. Properly planning out what time you’ll arrive at the airport will ultimately save you a lot of stress and anxiety. Plus, you won’t have to worry about being one of those people sprinting through the airport while dragging your luggage with you!

10. Overpaying for food and/or drinks.

Once you get past security and are inside the airport, overpriced food and drink options abound. While the airport may desperately want your money, you should stop and think about whether you really want that $15 sandwich or $7 drink. Airport food is also not the greatest quality most of the time, so that’s another thing to keep in mind. Instead, if you expect you’re going to get hungry but don’t want to spend extra on overpriced food, bring along some snacks from home so you have at least something to munch on. If you get thirsty, you can also bring along an empty reusable water bottle and fill it up at the water fountains in the airport.

via Pexels.com

During the Trip

While you’re living it up on vacation, it’s also important to remember to take care of yourself, your belongings, and your finances. That being said, you’ll want to do your best to avoid:

11. Not keeping an eye on your stuff.

No matter where you travel, it’s always crucial to keep a watchful eye on your belongings. As you’ll probably be carrying around a lot of valuable items throughout your trip (e.g. your passport, your wallet containing your ID and important credit and debit cards as well as cash), you’ll be a prime suspect for the local pickpocketers — especially if you look like a tourist and stand out like a sore thumb. Keeping that in mind, you should do your best to stay vigilant at all times and carefully watch over your most valuable belongings to prevent them from being swindled.

12. Relying on taxis or overpriced car services.

Relying on taxis and car services can turn out to be ridiculously overpriced, especially if you look and act like a tourist and are easily deceived by the drivers. Instead, look into the public transportation system there and take the bus or the subway/metro to get from place to place each day. Not only will this save you a lot of money, but it will also allow you to see more of the area by walking around and figuring out directions.

via Pexels.com

13. Falling into tourist traps.

If you just go by what websites and guide books say, there’s a chance you’re falling into a tourist trap – and a pricey one at that. No matter where you go, you will inevitably end up shelling out more money near major tourist attractions and sites. To avoid paying more than is necessary, and to enjoy a more authentic, less harried travel experience, delve deeper into researching your destination and discover the less touristy places that you can visit.

14. Overspending on souvenirs.

Another extremely tempting thing about traveling is the souvenirs. Of course, you want to bring back precious mementos for yourself and for your favorite people back home who didn’t get to experience the trip with you. While getting some souvenirs is totally fine, you want to avoid going overboard; after all, you only have so much space in your suitcase. That means you should do your best to be thoughtful in selecting souvenirs and stay within a budget.

15. Not accounting for the weather.

This seems like such a small, inconsequential thing to worry about, but it’s actually super important when it comes to planning out your trip. Not only can the weather affect what kinds of clothes you pack, but also what you end up doing throughout the trip. Make sure you look into the forecast for each day of your travels so that you plan accordingly and make the most of every single day.

Wherever you travel, make sure you plan ahead, make smart decisions, and of course, have fun!

Follow Uloop

Apply to Write for Uloop News

Join the Uloop News Team

Discuss This Article

Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly

Back to Top

Log In

Contact Us

Upload An Image

Please select an image to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format
Provide URL where image can be downloaded
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format

By clicking this button,
you agree to the terms of use

By clicking "Create Alert" I agree to the Uloop Terms of Use.

Image not available.

Add a Photo

Please select a photo to upload
Note: must be in .png, .gif or .jpg format