An ounce of prevention and creating a checklist to ensure that travelers circumvent these top travel mistakes is certainly worth the extra effort.
A survey of the literature on travel mistakes will tell you that there are numerous pitfalls to be avoided on any well-planned journey. The errors these articles address range in number from seven to over forty, depending on the author, each with its own preventative or cure. And, it’s a lot to keep in mind.
The following list of vacation planning items is based on a survey of 20 such articles. The items have been organized into six general categories.
Time and Timing
Double-check the time differences.
Remember that you are generally losing time when flying from east to west, and gaining time when flying from west to east.
Traveling overseas ? Understand and reconcile the differences in date notations.
In most of the world, date notations follow this format: MM/DD/YY, whereas in the USA they follow this one: DD/MM/YY. When the numbers are similar, as in 11/10/17 versus 10/11/17, this can be very confusing.
Check the times and dates of your travel itinerary, as well as the check-in and check-out times at hotels, at least 48 hours in advance. That will give you enough time to fix any problems.
Airports, ID’s, TSA and Customs
Connecting Flights? Double-check that your next flight leaves from the same airport as the one where you’re scheduled to land. Larger cities, like New York, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, and Paris have more than one airport. To be sure, cross-reference the airport name with its IATA airport identifier (JFK, EWR, DME) on your flight itinerary.
Check your passport. Is it current? Does the country you’re visiting require a visa?
If so, is the time span defined by the visa long enough for the entire trip you’ve planned?
These days, it’s best to carry a current passport even for domestic travel, along with one other picture ID. Take photocopies along as a hedge against loss.
Triple check that your carry on items conform to the TSA rules .
This currently means that all liquids, aerosols, gels, creams, and pastes must be kept in containers holding 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item. Place these items in a separate, quart-sized bag for ease of inspection.
Credit Cards, Currencies and Cash
Inform your bank or credit card company about trip dates and destinations.
This will alert the company to your travel plans and help prevent disallowed charges.
Have a plan for handling cash and exchanging currencies.
Your strategy will, of course, be different if you are visiting a locale with a cash-based economy rather than a credit-based one. If you have no choice but to handle cash, use on-body storage accessories.
Use debit cards and ATM’s for cash withdrawals, and credit cards for purchases. Pay in local currencies (including cash and via credit cards), whenever possible.
Luggage: Don’t Over-Pack
One change of clothes per day is enough, except for formal occasions. Plan to wear most items twice during the trip.
One checked bag and one or two carry-on items should do. More gets burdensome, transforming your vacation into an expedition. Remember the TSA “liquids” rules when returning home.
Trip Planning: Don’t Overschedule
Unless you’re competing for the grand prize in The Amazing Race, 14 cities in 12 days are not fun. Pick the places you’d really like to visit and invest an extra day or two in each for discovery and enjoyment.
Connectivity: Watch Your Costs
While it’s great to stay in touch when traveling, the cumulative cost of the unchecked text, phone and Internet transactions can be staggering.
Your best bet is to turn your device off or keep it in airplane mode most of the time. The exception is when a hotel, restaurant or airport offers free WiFi.
These six planning categories will help hasten you to your goal of a smooth and hassle and travel mistake free trip. Yet they are by no means comprehensive. One reason why there are so many articles on the topic is that there are so many details and a staggering amount of literature to consider in avoiding travel mistakes.
That’s why most travel “mistake” articles end by recommending that you consult a travel professional, who can place the experience of hundreds of trips at your disposal. A travel professional can relieve the burdens, while enhancing the joy, of your next journey.