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Rookie Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


Everyone loves to travel but not everyone is a travel expert. Even those who have traveled internationally before don’t qualify as the next Rick Steves. It takes years of experience before a person is fully adept with all the different travel procedures and until then we’re all susceptible to making rookie mistakes. But here’s how to avoid the avoidable.

Travel Tips To Avoid Easy Mistakes

1. Forgetting your passport: Triple check that you have it and make copies—Is there any worse feeling than standing at the front of customs and not being able to find your passport? So make a note to extra triple check that you have your passport somewhere on your body or in an easy to reach place in your carry-on. To really be safe, make one or two copies of your passport: keep one in the bottom of your suitcase and give the other to a travel companion (or keep in a separate place than the first copy).

2. Not having the right currency: Exchange [lots of] money beforehand—Make life simple on yourself and exchange your money before you ever hit the road. Don’t wait until you reach your final destination. Especially if you’ll only need one type of currency (let’s say the Euro, for example), stock up before you even leave town. And when you exchange currency, ask for more than you think you’ll need. For one thing, you’ll end up purchasing more than you can predict, whether it’s food or souvenirs. But, also, foreign ATM’s charge you a transaction fee, so you’ll end up spending money to get money every time you run out of cash.

3. Getting blisters and having sore feet: Wear comfortable shoes—Cheap flip-flops are a travel favorite; they’re comfortable and small. But if you’re planning to walk a lot on your trip (which is almost inevitable), flip-flops are not the best choice. Instead, select your most comfortable, supportive, long-lasting shoes to take on the road with you. It’s okay to sacrifice fashion for utility when you’re a tourist.

4. Letting the hotel lose your reservation: Print out your receipt—No one wants to arrive at the hotel after hours of travel, tired and grumpy, to find the hotel can’t find your name in their computer. Print out all your travel documents before you leave and keep them together in a folder. As much as we want to go paperless, sometimes we really do need to have it printed in writing.

5. Missing your flight: Arrive 2 hours early—We’ve all seen them: the people making frantic sprints down the airport terminal in an attempt to make it to the gate before it’s too late. Don’t let that be you! In air travel today, there are too many variables that may contribute to you being late for your flight. Whether it’s transit, parking or rental car return, bag check, or security, bad stuff happens when you’re trying to make a flight. Do your due diligence and ask the hotel concierge the night before how best to make it to the airport, how long it takes to get there, and how long the line at security typically takes. Then double that in your head, and that’s how much time you should allot. Spending a few hours extra in the airport because you’re early will still cost you less time than a missed flight.

The Cardinal Sin Of Traveling: Overpacking

Don’t kill yourself lugging two oversized bags with you all across town. Be stingy while you pack. Select clothes that you can mix and match to form multiple outfits or that you can roll into a small ball while you pack. Avoid packing items that take up a disproportional amount of space (e.g. boots or bulky hairdryers). Keep to the essentials and remember: you can always buy more at your destination.


Anna Albi is a graduate from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, where she received a B.A. in Creative Writing with an additional major on Professional Writing. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Arts in Professional Writing, also at CMU. Feel free to reach out to her through Google+.

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