Travelling is exciting, isn't it? Whether you're on your first international getaway or a seasoned globetrotter, we've experienced every kind of holiday mishap there is. We all love the occasional travel blooper - hilarious misunderstandings courtesy of Google Translate. As experts in the travel industry, we're sharing some of these travel mistakes so that you can focus on how to avoid them and have the best time possible during your holiday.
We created this guide to ensure that you avoid the pitfalls of traveling abroad — from delays to lost luggage, from lost passports to having not enough cash on hand, we’ve seen it all!!
MISTAKE #1: ARE YOU OVER-PACKING? 🧳
Most of us pack too much for our trip and then end up wearing the same few items every day.
Some people travel with an excessive amount of their personal belongings.
You start thinking about every possible scenario that could befall you when you’re on the road and before you know it, you’ve stuffed your entire closet into your suitcase. (“But what if I bump into the Queen? 👑 What if there’s a monsoon and a snowstorm at the same time?? I have to be prepared!”)
If you’re going on vacation and ending up in a different city than where you planned, make sure you take off any unnecessary baggage.
While you may not think about it when packing, packing for a trip is a fairly complex procedure that requires a lot of research.
MISTAKE #2: NOT BUYING TRAVEL INSURANCE
This is a biggie! Some people view travel insurance as a bit of a money grab, an optional extra that tacks even more money onto the cost of their trip—but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
You need to think of travel insurance as an investment rather than an expense. If I knew I was going to be spending over $3,000 on my next trip, then why wouldn’t I pay the extra $29, $59, or even $100 to guarantee that I’m covered if something goes wrong? Like we said before, travel is unpredictable—and nothing ruins a trip faster than a stolen passport, missing luggage, or sudden injury.
Certain types of travel insurance will even reimburse you for things like an extra meal at the airport if your flight was delayed. Be practical about potential risks and ensure that your dream getaway won’t turn into a nightmare if something unexpected happens.
MISTAKE #3: ARE YOU BUDGETING FOR THE UNEXPECTED
Buying too many souvenirs from the souvenir shops is easy to avoid. But trying to make souvenirs of everything you see — because you just know you’ll go back to them again — is a sure-fire way to spend more money than you intended.
Or, spending your dollar on unnecessary stuff, or do you really need that new iPod Pro? We all know how important your phone is. While it may seem harmless at first, people overestimate phone usage. Your phone can help you do fun things, make calls, and do some homework at the same time.
Lastly, not notifying the bank of future bank transactions and end up with a cancelled card 💳 due to “unusual activity”
MISTAKE #4: HAVING UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
Don’t create an image of expectation and arrive with a fresh and open mind will help you accept things as they come.
Instead… If something goes not as planned, go with the flow. Have a realistic expectation and don’t expect your trip to be perfect. Packing too much into one trip – is a sure-fire way to stress yourself out and considerably limit the opportunities you’re exposed to. Give yourself time to relax and fully enjoy what every destination has to offer.
MISTAKE #5: NOT READING THE FINE PRINT ON YOUR MOBILE PLAN 📱
I committed this particular travel sin once, and it came back to bite me later in the form of a surprise Ksh 80,000/- phone bill—not exactly what you want to come home to after a trip! It happens to the best of us, but you can protect yourself from data roaming fees by checking your mobile plan to see what’s covered before you go abroad.
If your plan covers you internationally, then you’re golden! Otherwise, make sure to turn off your data before you get on the plane and leave your phone on airplane mode (don’t worry, you’ll still be able to connect to WiFi). If you can’t get by without data while you’re away, either look for an international plan that covers the destinations you visit most often or buy a local SIM card after you land. Most airports will have kiosks selling SIM cards to arriving tourists, but you can often find even better deals if you poke around local convenience stores or phone shops outside.
MISTAKE #6: TRYING TO DO ALL THE THINGS
This one I am very much guilty of—my husband would say that I try to build Rome in a day. What can I say? The FOMO is real 🤷♀️
While I certainly understand the desire to explore as much as possible on your trip, rushing through every sight can leave you feeling exhausted and stressed. Travel burnout is a real thing, especially if you’re trying to squeeze in every possible moment in every new location. My advice? Pace yourself. While I always do my best to fit in as much as possible, it’s okay to slow down and take it nice and easy.
You need to remember that you’re on vacation and relax. You don’t want to come back home and feel like you need another vacation to recover from the one you just took! This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for the things you want to do, just make sure to pad those plans with downtime and city-strolling in between.
MISTAKE #7: TRYING TO SAVE MONEY AT THE EXPENSE OF YOUR TIME
PREACH! 🙌 This one I see a lot.
Planning and booking everything yourself might seem like a great way to cut costs, but you need to think carefully about how this will affect your vacation time. If taking a bus between cities instead of flying saves you 30 bucks but means an entire day spent on the road instead of an hour in the air, is it worth it? What about showing up at an attraction and standing in line for hours just to save $5 on the ticket instead of booking in advance and paying full price?
Look out for all the hidden fees when you’re booking your travel without considering availability, unexpected surcharges used to promote products or free tickets to events that may be hard to get to on your own.
Safely book your travel with a reputed travel agent or travel advisor. These are businesses that secure long-term bookings for you and then offer you a selection of flights and accommodation at the best possible prices.
Travel advisors know your destination inside out and can save you hours of agonized online searching. Plus, they can often score better deals on flights and hotel rooms thanks to their experience and connections—so you end up with your dream vacation minus all the sweat and tears of trying to plan it yourself.
You may find yourself overwhelmed by all the choices online, and competition will try to undercut by offering the cheapest flights or hotels – but hey, cheap can become expensive! (do I hear a Deja-vu feeling of been there before) so, please ask for help! Savvy consumers will tend to find out the facts ahead of time and will book with reputed travel advisors.
When planning your trip, your time should be equally as valuable as your money. You’re shelling out to visit a destination—you want to make sure you have time to actually enjoy it!
MISTAKE #8: WORRYING ABOUT EVERYTHING (TO THE POINT WHERE YOU CAN’T ENJOY YOURSELF WHILE YOU’RE AWAY)
Worry is the evil twin of high expectations. Worrying about things that are out of your control isn't helpful for you or your family. Many travelers never get to their destination because they're always worrying. It's important to have constructive and realistic expectations of the trip, especially for those traveling with children. Worrying will just suck the joy out of a vacation faster than you can say "bon voyage."
Shit happens, and it’s not the end of the world. Don’t let a missed flight, lost suitcase, nasty restaurant, or any other unpleasant experience ruin your trip.
Travel is about making new connections, learning about new cultures, feeling the wonder of a new place, and exploring a new corner of the world. When you’ve spent some time traveling, you realize that there is no right or wrong way to do it. The only thing that matters is that you go, explore, experience, and enjoy! If you can get into this frame of mind when you travel, the small stuff won’t seem worth sweating at all.