Vacations are supposed to be about relaxing and enjoying yourself in a fun and exotic destination. Unfortunately, poor planning and bad decisions can easily derail a trip in a matter of moments. Here is a look at eight common travel mistakes that can ruin your holiday.
1. Not Getting Your Passport in Time
It takes anywhere from four to six weeks to get a new passport unless you pay to have it expedited. Many people, however, won’t think about needing a passport until it’s almost too late or won’t realize their passport is expired until the day of travel. At best, this sort of mistake can cost you at least $60 extra to move the process along more quickly, but you may find yourself out of luck entirely and be unable to take your trip.
2. Booking Your Connections Too Close
30 minutes in your connecting airport may seem like plenty of time between flights–especially if you’re not keen on spending hours milling around O’Hare or Heathrow–but delays and cancelations can throw off your entire travel schedule immediately. Rather than risk missing your connection, always book at least 90 minutes between flights (or better yet, pay the extra money to fly direct).
3. Overpacking (or Packing Poorly)
Packing more clothes than you could possibly need on your vacation can come back to bite you at several points during your trip. Even if your bag isn’t over the weight limit on the way there, you might not have enough room for souvenirs on the flight back. On the flip side, you can also wind up in trouble if you forget to pack necessities like medications. Your best bet is to create a packing list a few weeks before you travel and then force yourself to stick to it.
4. Wasting Time Trying to Save Money
The old saying that “time is money” has never been truer than when you are on vacation. Rather than wasting two hours waiting for public transportation in an unfamiliar city just to save a few bucks, therefore, you might just want to splurge for a cab.
5. Staying Too Far From the Action
Hotel marketers are excellent at spinning their advertising jargon, and too many naïve travelers fall into the trap. You should never trust a hotel that claims to be “close to the city center” without taking some time to verify the information. Pull up a map online to find out how long it will actually take to get from a prospective hotel to the heart of town. Often, you will find out that your definition of “close” doesn’t match up with what’s being advertised.
6. Failing to Do Your Research
Considering how expensive traveling can be, too many vacationers try to “wing it” when visiting an unfamiliar place. There are so many free and inexpensive resources available to let you know about your destination in minute detail, and you owe it to yourself to spend some time researching the best attractions, restaurants, and hotels before you go. Not only will doing your research help you have a better vacation, but it will also get you more excited for your trip.
7. Getting Sucked Into a Lengthy Timeshare Pitch
Have you ever been enticed by a timeshare presentation that just seemed too good to be true? In most situations, you should trust your gut instinct and stay away. Timeshare salespeople know how to employ a wide range of tactics to extend their “short” presentations by several hours as they try to convince you to buy, and the time you end up wasting will almost always outweigh the rewards the company is offering.
8. Trying to Do Too Much
Most travelers find themselves regretting their decision to take an all-encompassing trip to Italy, Canada, or the UK rather than honing in on specific destinations like Florence, Toronto, or London. If you try to visit an entire country or region all in one trip, you will often only get to see the most basic tourist sights and then spend the majority of your holiday in a car, train, or bus. Rather than trying to spread yourself too thin, focus on one or two specific destinations you want to see in great detail and have fun discovering the different layers of culture in depth.