Even the most seasoned travelers experience a few travel hiccups every now and then. Some, like flight delays or bad weather, are completely out of your control. Others can be avoided. Overpacking (do you really need 7 pairs of shoes for a long weekend?), forgetting a key item at the hotel, and not bringing a change of clothes in your carry-on (like that bathing suit you spent months searching for) are just a few travel mistakes to watch out for. We asked our Advisors to share a few blunders they frequently see. Read their 10 Big Travel Mistakes below!
- Not reading the entire itinerary before the trip
Double check your travel times and daily schedules as soon as you get your itinerary so your Travel Advisor can make changes in advance. If you wait until you are traveling, it’s difficult to make changes. “At that point, it’s usually too late or will cost them to make it,” says Advisor Louisa Gehring.
- Not asking for help getting a visa
If you’re traveling to a country that requires a visa, talk to your Travel Advisor. It can get confusing, and your Advisor has much more experience procuring the visa. Advisor Sam McClure stresses the importance of getting assistance from your Advisor so you don’t discover something went awry at the last minute.
- Skipping travel insurance
Just because you’re young and healthy doesn’t mean you should forgo travel insurance. It can remedy unexpected travel hiccups that can happen all the time (see this traveler’s experience). From flight cancellations to lost luggage to missing a trip due to illness (your OR a family member’s), travel insurance has your covered! “Even worse than declining travel insurance is refusing it because you think you’re covered by a policy on your credit card,” explains Louisa. “You may not be!” Watch this video from Travelex to see just how valuable travel insurance is.
- Forgetting to check your passport expiration date
Some travelers don’t realize that many countries require your passport be valid as long as six months after your intended departure date. Spain, Italy, France and most other European Union countries are a part of the Schengen Borders Agreement, so your passport must be valid for at least three months beyond your scheduled date of departure. “I’ve heard horror stories of travelers turned away at the airport in the US because their passport expires a month or two after their trip,” says Senior Travel Coordinator Katherine Norton. “Our best practice is to renew your passport when it is within six months of expiration.”
- Not telling your Travel Advisor if there is an issue while you’re traveling
Advisor June Griffith stresses that if you’re in the wrong room category or an amenity is missing, call or email your Travel Advisor. Don’t be shy—that’s what they are there for! Your Travel Advisor wants your trip to be perfect and can make sure the problem is solved promptly as long as they know there is a problem.
- Taking only one credit card
When you’re traveling, especially abroad, you need to have a backup credit card. Advisor Linda Allen recommends at least two, “preferably one Visa and one Mastercard, both with chips.”
- Forgetting to tell your bank and credit card companies where you’re traveling
In the same vein, it is important to notify your bank and credit card companies when and where you’ll be traveling. “Credit card companies don’t mess around if they see a charge from Europe when you’re based in the US,” say Advisor Deborah Barth. Avoid the headache of calling during your trip to fix the situation, and let the companies know in advance.
- Forgetting to check the safe
“Even some of the most seasoned travelers store their passport and important items in the safe and forget to grab them before leaving,” says Deborah. A little trick Deborah shares with clients is to put one of the shoes you plan to wear home in the safe the night before you leave. “You certainly won’t forget your shoe and leave with one shoe on!”
- Booking a roundtrip flight to Europe before making a plan
Don’t buy a cheap roundtrip flight to Europe before thinking the trip all the way through. “When visiting more than one country, it usually makes sense to fly into one city and out of another,” explains Advisor Suzette Mack. “If you are flying home from the same airport, you’ll have to spend several days at the end of the trip getting back to the original airport.
…but most of all
- Saying “Someday we’ll do this.”
Putting off a trip for a year quickly turns in two years, then five, and soon enough your kids are grown and you’ve missed the opportunity. “Families never regret creating those memories,” says Advisor Carrie Mahoney. “My daughters have told me that the best part of our latest international trip was the time to sit down and talk as a family.” Whether you take off for a long weekend away or leave the country for a week, the time spent exploring a new destination as a family is priceless.