given to me by a patient that knew I was going to Paris
Traveling is a lot of work! With that being said, you may wonder why people go anywhere? The reason for me is, no matter how much preparation and planning and research I have to put into a trip, once I arrive at my destination, the reward is worth all the effort.
My globetrotting ex-mother-in-law had the perfect phrase that she would always say, that when I wasn’t such a “world traveler”, I didn’t quite understand and would always laugh at her. She would say, “traveling is a full-time job, but someone’s got to do it!” In present day, I absolutely agree with her.
It’s easy to make mistakes while traveling. Unless you are resourceful and find out information, you are pretty much on your own. Even smart people fall prey to common mistakes. It doesn’t make you stupid, it’s just that you haven’t been exposed to these sorts of things, until you are faced with them.
To be fair, I came up with a list of 9 mistakes, because I’ve made them myself. Don’t judge. You live and learn. Maybe by reading this article, I can help you to not make the same mistakes I have in my past travels?
The classic. Been there, done that. I have gotten better. I even now only bring a back pack and try to not check any luggage. I still find myself bringing many things I didn’t need. You learn after lugging heavy bags all through airports that, having 5 pairs of shoes just isn’t necessary. Minimize is the key. Also you can re-wear clothes and bring laundry detergent. Nobody is going to know that you wore those jeans yesterday. Also, layer up. Wear sweaters and coats on your body. The airline can’t charge you for clothes you are wearing. Not to mention, airplanes are always so cold and uncomfortable. Your clothes can double as blankets and pillows. win-win.
2. NOT GET TRAVELER’S INSURANCE
Traveler’s insurance is one of those things that you hope you will never need. Many people roll the dice and don’t get it. I am guilty of this. This is a huge mistake! The cost is very low, when you compare the cost of having to lose your non-refundable ticket or accommodation due to sickness or uncontrollable circumstances. I know that saving for a trip can be hard and you want to make every penny count. Some think, “well, that $50.00 I spent on travelers insurance could go towards an activity instead”, but if you really think about it, that $50.00 can save you thousands, if you suddenly got sick or hurt on vacation and have to go to a hospital that doesn’t take your countries’ insurance. Getting traveler’s insurance is easy and gives you the security that no matter what happens before and during your trip, you are covered. That security helps me be more relaxed on my trip. I always use world nomads travel insurance. They have a great reputation and all the travel people who I know, use them. If you are still unsure of how important it really is, read this story of a travel blogger who broke his back on vacation. Dave from the planet D would have had hospital bills of about $75,000 without it!!
Here is his story:The Planet D- need medical insurance
3. NOT DO RESEARCH
Again, a common one. You may think than over planning and creating a hour-by-hour itinerary isn’t fun and you would rather wing it. Yes, some people aren’t very structured and I understand that. I don’t like making my trip too rigid a schedule either. That’s no fun, but what I do think is important is preparing and tentatively planning activities that you want to do. The worst thing is arriving at your destination and planning to visit, say the Louvre in Paris, and realizing the only day you had available to do this, it was closed! Yes, I did that. I wasn’t completely heart-broken, I did however get to see the Musee’ D’ Orsay, which was nice, instead. I am not a museum type person, but come on, I was in Paris and didn’t see the Mona Lisa? I’m sort of embarrassed about that. If I was a museum type person though, I can only imagine how upsetting that would have been. Don’t make that mistake. Research, research, research!
4. BRING THE WRONG THINGS
I’m guilty of this too. I have brought only summer clothes to places that were cold at night. I forgot to bring a travel adapter/converter and had frizzed bomb hair my entire trip because I couldn’t use my hairdryer. I brought high heels and nightclub clothing to a resort that was super casual. I brought way too much stuff (as I already mentioned earlier). And one time I even forgot to bring my entire suitcase! I’m totally not kidding. I had absolutely nothing! I will never make that mistake again. I was a walking celebrity at the resort I was staying. As I’d walk by people would wave and say what a trooper I was, and then whisper, “I’d cry if I was her.” ” I’d want to go home. ” “She is the one who forgot her suitcase and has nothing!” It was bad, real bad!
5. BRING THE WRONG CREDIT CARD
This one is kind of unique. Maybe I’m the only one who has done this? Who knows? I’ve already embarrassed myself on what a rookie traveler I have been, I might as well continue. It’s my way of paying it forward. When I went to London a few years ago, I was single and didn’t have a ton of money to spare. I decided the best way to budget my trip was to get a “trip credit card” and would use it exclusively for my trip and then pay it off when I got back. I did have my debit card, but I didn’t want to use all of my money. Not the best idea, I know, but I didn’t want to give up the opportunity to go to London! As anyone who has been there knows, the place is hella expensive! I am very budget conscious and usually only eat one meal a day on vacation. I never really splurge and if I wanted to on this particular vacation I couldn’t. My choice for my “travel credit card” was a Discover card. Guess what? Most places in London (or at least the places I went to) don’t take Discover card! I had to use my debit card for everything. This was not in the plan at all. It made me worry about my finances and to top it off the last day of my trip I needed to get some extra cash for the train to Heathrow and the machine ate my card. I not only had a credit card that wasn’t accepted anywhere, but I also no longer had a debit card or any money! It was awful. Thankfully, I was visiting a local and he lent me money that I later reimbursed him on my return. I was not only stressed out, but was utterly embarrassed. My suggestion: make sure you check what credit cards are accepted in the country you are visiting and take 2. You don’t have to use them both, jut keep one in your safe for back up.
6. HAVE AN OUTRAGEOUS INTERNATIONAL PHONE BILL ON RETURN
I have done this one, but it wasn’t my fault. Really! I was going to a destination wedding in Dominican Republic. We got a hotel on Expedia for a great deal and upon arrival were told the hotel was overbooked! What? How is it that I already paid in full and we do not have a room. I was outraged. This seemed so unfair and wrong. I understand, maybe if we made a last-minute reservation and didn’t pay yet, but we were confirmed with a confirmation number and had paid for the entire stay upfront. The hotel was not helpful at all. Every time we would try to talk to them about a solution, they would refer us to the travel company we purchased through. They said since we bought then through a third-party, we could not get a refund and would have to take to up with them (Expedia) I immediately called the 800 number for Expedia, which was based out of Houston, Texan in the US. I explained my dilemma and was transferred over and over and was on hold for hours. I didn’t have global calling on my phone because I really wasn’t planning on using it on a quick 5 day trip. Every minute that went by, I was calculating in my head of how much this was going to cost me, but I had no choice.
The good news is that even after the horrible situation with this hotel, Expedia was amazing! They claimed that this wasn’t the first time this resort has done this to their customers and will no longer use them. They set us up at a nicer resort, for no extra charge, and once I got my dreaded phone bill, ($700.00!!) they paid it for me. I was so impressed of the customer service of Expedia. Although our situation was bad, they did everything they could on their end to rectify the problem. It was a great trip and wedding and still to this day I always use Expedia, with great experiences, and suggest the company to anyone I know.
Now, when traveling, especially of its more than a week, I do get global calling on my phone for my time away. Just incase. My last two-week trip cost me $40.00 extra on my cell phone bill. That was nothing compared to if I needed to use it and what the international, minute-to-minute rate would be. I did have to use it a few times to call home. I didn’t have to worry about incurring charges and it was a security knowing that I could.
7. NOT READ THE FINE PRINT
This can be in any aspect of travel. From your vacation packages, to hidden fees or surcharges, etc. I have made this mistake a few times, but an example that I could share is when you get a room and want stay in an oceanfront room, but chose a seaview room, they are completely not the same! The wording can be tricky and this is on purpose to confuse you. I had my heart set on an oceanfront room on one of my trips and ended up with a room that was facing a swamp and a parking lot, but if you stick your head out the balcony and lean to your side, you can see the ocean, from the corner of your eye. This was so disappointing and when I complained that this wasn’t what I was anticipating, they quickly explained the difference and that for an upgrade, with double the cost per night, I could have that view I was hoping for. The best advice I can give, is read all of the room descriptions and you can usually figure them out by price. If you are still confused, call the hotel/resort and have them explain the differences of their rooms offered. I didn’t want to ruin my vacation by having this terrible view and settle. I worked hard for this vacation and my one week off I had, and decided it was worth the extra money. After talking with the reservationist at the hotel and discussing room options and prices, for $700.00 more, which was $100.00 more per night, we could get the penthouse Governor’s suite that was available. It also came with free wifi, availability to a special private club, a master suite, 2 outdoor balconies each with their own hot tubs, a living room, a full dining room and a panoramic view to die for. It was a no-brainer and it was one of the best vacations my family went on together. We laughed to think of the room we would have been stuck in. Sometimes you have to splurge.
(Below is a video of the Governor’s Suite we upgraded to at the Now Jade in Riviera Maya, Mexico)
8. MISS YOUR FLIGHT
My friend and I were just talking about this. Many of us have been there. I have, a few times. It’s really a pain in the neck and can screw up your trip or your return, especially if you had work or school or any other obligations. My friends’ missed flight story is worse than mine, and she allowed me to share this with you. She and her friend were on their last night in Italy and decided to have one last celebration with drinks, many, many drinks! They were definitely over the limit, but it was okay, they weren’t driving and they could just sleep on the plane home and what the hell, they were in Italy! No biggie. Well, in the morning when their alarm clock went off, her friend, instead of hitting the snooze button, hit the off button. Later, upon waking up, right before the time their flight was to take off, they sobered up instantly, with the realization that they were going to miss their flight. They proceeded to go to the airport and explained to the airline what happened, maybe not the entire story, and that they needed to book the next flight back to Boston. Of course they knew there would be additional fees (no travelers insurance either), but they were shocked to hear that the price was going to be $1,300.00 more! They wanted to cry. I would too, but they really had no other choice. So their awesome last night with too many cocktails ended up being a way bigger bar tab then they ever imagined! Ouch!
9. GET STUCK WASTING HOURS OF YOUR VACATION LISTENING TO A TIMESHARE SPIEL
With promises of free prizes and excursions just for giving them one hour of your time, many of us fall into the timeshare selling trap. I have done this, not once, but twice. I never learn. Each time we said we would just listen to their pitch until the hour as promised, and then politely decline buying anything and collect our gifts. This never really happens. If someone has managed to do this, they deserve an award. These high pressure sales associates don’t stop talking and trying to get you to buy. Unless you are really in the market to buy a timeshare, don’t waste your precious vacation time sitting in a room with 25 other helpless vacationers. You should be spending your time relaxing or doing the things you want. Even if they offer great gifts, like half prices to popular activities and such. I found that the deals aren’t as good as they appear and usually come with restrictions and blackout dates (the fine print again). You are better off just paying the regular cost of your activity or look for a groupon. Your time is money. And every minute you waste doing these things is costing you.
You may be guilty of one or more of these mistakes, but don’t feel bad. We all make them. I’ve made them all, and then some. If you personally made a travel mistake or have heard horror travel stories from others, it can teach you how to not make them again, or ever. There is definitely more to travel then just buying a ticket and hopping on a plane. You can try that, but I’m sure problems will arise. Being prepared and learning through others may not just be helpful, but it can be the difference of an okay trip or an amazing trip.