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9 Common Travel Mistakes You Might Be Making

Save money, time, and aggravation on your next trip with our solutions for common travel mistakes.

1. Booking airfare at the wrong time

The earlier you book airfare, the cheaper it is, right? It turns out that’s not always the case.

According to a study of booking data by CheapAir, the best time to buy plane tickets tends to be between three weeks and four months before takeoff. So before you scramble to book your flights months in advance, just remember that patience can pay off.

2. Not paying attention to your cell phone data

It’s tempting to post your experiences to Facebook and Instagram as they happen, but data roaming charges can make those likes very expensive. Purchase international data in advance or a SIM card at your destination so you can use your web-based apps from anywhere.

3. Cutting it too close with your passport expiration date

Just because your passport expires a week after your return flight doesn’t mean you’re in the clear.

Many countries (including most of Europe) require your passport to be valid for three months after your date of departure, and some countries like Russia and China extend that all the way to six months.

If your passport’s expiring soon and you’ve got an international trip lined up, be sure to get it renewed.

4. Letting a guidebook plan your trip for you

Travel guides can offer a great overview of your destination, but don’t let the guidebook fully dictate where you go and what you do. It might make planning easier, but you’ll end up sprinting from one tourist trap to the next.

Ask for tips on social media, visit crowdsourced travel sites, and chat up locals to learn about the best under-the-radar haunts.

5. Being too aggressive with your itinerary

Trying to squeeze every attraction into one trip will leave you feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation. Getting around a new place can take longer than expected and you shouldn’t cut a fun excursion short because you “have to” move on to the next one.

Leave some time to breathe and let your trip unfold at a relaxed pace. Aimless wandering and spontaneous stops often leads to the most memorable travel experiences.

6. Not knowing when (or how much) to tip

If you don’t read up on local tipping etiquette in advance, you could end up leaving more than you need to or commit an offensive faux-pas.

When dining out, look for a service charge, which usually replaces a tip. And if you’re ever in doubt about when and how much to tip, there’s nothing wrong with asking a local.

7. Overpacking

There’s no reason to pay an overweight bag fee for a two-week trip, and nothing’s worse than not having room for that souvenir you bought.

Once you think you’re done packing, look back over your choices and be honest with yourself about what you’ll really need. Choose versatile outfits that offer form and function.

8. Keeping your bank in the dark about your travel plans

Most banks are actively monitoring identity theft, and sometimes that vigilance can backfire when you travel. Whenever you leave the country, be sure to set up a travel notice so your bank won’t accidentally flag any foreign transactions and shut off your card. This super-easy step can save you a major headache.

9. Exchanging money at the airport

Eager travelers often rush to exchange currency at the airport, but it can mean paying extra fees or higher rates. A smart option is to send money to yourself ahead of time to pick up at your destination.

Have you learned any crucial travel tips the hard way? Tell us your story in the Facebook comments!

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  • Matthew Van Wyk

    Learn some of the language. You don’t have to be a fluent speaker. Learn only enough to be able to ask for what you want and where to go. When your travel guide goes home, or does not accompany you to shopping time, locals tend to be ignorant towards foreigners. Assuming that English is a universal language is the biggest mistake.

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