8 preventable mistakes new international travelers make.
Traveling out of the country for the first time can be exhilarating. You have your passport ready to go, your Pinterest board is chock full of fun places to visit, and you’re counting down the days until you head to the airport. But as much as you plan ahead, that first trip overseas will most likely be full of surprises. Here are eight of the most common mistakes first-time travelers make, and how you can prevent making those same mistakes before it’s too late.
Waiting too long to book your flight
There are countless hacks out there about the best time to book your flight. Even though everyone says that Tuesdays at exactly 3:00 pm will be when you get the best deal, that’s not really true. If anything, airlines have figured out that booking “hack” and have adjusted accordingly. The one thing you don’t want to do when booking your flight is waiting too long and hope that the price will eventually go down. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll have no choice but to pay an exorbitant amount (which is exactly what airlines are hoping you do).
According to a 2019 survey, you’ll most likely get the best flight deals 76 days before your trip. But if you miss that particular specific time frame, plan on booking your flight just a couple of months in advance, and you’ll most likely have a good flight deal.
Not backing up your phone before you leave
Before cell phones, your lifeline was the map in your back pocket and a list of addresses and phone numbers you had physically written down. Nowadays, your cell phone has everything you need. From your map and your camera to your emergency numbers, your cell phone is everything when traveling. If you lose it, it gets stolen, or it gets broken while traveling, that can put a wrinkle in your carefully scheduled itinerary.
Make sure everything you need is stored in the cloud before heading overseas. Backing up your device to the cloud ensures all of your documents, personal information, photos, and other important data can still be safe and accessible no matter what happens to your physical device. If something happens to your cell phone, check with your hotel or hostel to see if you can use their computer to access your emergency documents, which can be downloaded anywhere with WiFi.
Having an overly ambitious itinerary
Unless you’re traveling for work, you’re probably heading overseas for a little rest and relaxation. It may be tempting to try to pack in every tourist attraction and event to get the most out of your trip. But rushing from one place to another can be exhausting. Having a too-packed itinerary can make you stressed out—which is the last thing you want while on vacation.
If you’re the type of traveler who likes to plan ahead, make sure you schedule in some downtime, where all you are expected to do is relax. You’ll be able to feel like your vacation is actually a vacation, and be able to enjoy your surroundings more and explore a new place.
Booking appointments too close together
You’ll also want to make sure you don’t book your appointments and reservations too close together. Traffic happens, flights get delayed, and sometimes it takes more time than you originally planned to get somewhere. Giving yourself some cushion time in between appointments ensures you’re not stressed should the worst happen. And it gives you some extra time to explore and relax in a new place.
Packing too much
Even though you think you’ll wear those heels when on a beach vacation, you probably won’t ever take them out of your suitcase. Overpacking for a trip can happen easily if you aren’t careful—and it can cost you a lot of energy and money in the long run. Not only is carrying an oversized suitcase around the airport and around a city pain in the back, but oversized luggage fees can also be a couple of hundred dollars depending on the airline.
When you’re planning for your vacation, do research on what type of climate you’re flying in and what weather conditions are typical for that time of year. Think about the types of activities you’re planning on doing as well. If you’re going to be walking a lot, you probably won’t need heels or nonsupportive (although cute) flats. Go through your luggage and take out anything you’re not sure you’ll wear. And remember, you can always do laundry over there and buy anything you forgot to pack overseas as well.
Not notifying your bank about your travel plans
One of the most inconvenient things to deal with while on a vacation is your bank. While those overseas security measures can help you if your account gets hacked, it can be a hassle when you’re on vacation and your card detects suspicious activity (even though it’s just you). Calling your bank in advance and telling them about your travel plans and dates will keep them from declining your card right when you need it most. Most banks let you put your travel plans in online or through their app, making it easy for you to fix any bank-related issues that come up while away from home.
Pickpockets are a problem no matter where you travel. They know how to recognize and target tourists since they’re not as aware and careful as locals. All it takes is taking your eyes off your valuables for one moment and they can be long gone—ruining your trip. Don’t give thieves the chance to steal your valuables. Keep your bags in front of you, your wallet and cell phone in your front pockets, and keep the jewelry and valuables you would hate to lose back home where you know they will be safe and sound.
Having unrealistic expectations
Even the most well thought out vacation will have its bumps and bruises. Maybe the car rental service didn’t have a reservation on record. Maybe you drop your cell phone in the hotel pool. Or maybe it rains the entire time. Whatever happens, try to have a positive attitude and make the best of the experience. Expect some things to not go as planned, and you’ll have a much better vacation overall.