Common Travel Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Vacation and Here’s How to Avoid Them

Many people travel to relax and to learn and appreciate the beauty and customs of other countries. But travel mistakes can be very stressful and ruin your trip. Don’t wait to learn from experience. Here are some excellent travel tips to help ensure your next adventure is safe and smooth.

1. Only Relying on Your Phone

woman in an airport sitting on the ground with her luggage and looking at her phone

We keep a lot of essential information on our phones. But what if the battery dies or your phone gets lost while traveling? One reader advised, “Put your flight time, flight number, hotel address, and booking confirmation codes on a piece of paper.”

2. Taking Wheeled Luggage Everywhere

man getting carryon from airport

In some places, a traveler may be better off carrying big backpacks than wheeled luggage in areas where the surface isn’t meant for them.

“Taking wheeled luggage to a place like Central America or Southeast Asia. The sidewalks are quite often bad or non-existent, you need a backpack.”

“I traveled with someone who brought a wheeled suitcase to a camping music festival in Ireland. Watching her try to drag it through over a mile of mud was an experience. I don’t know what she was thinking!”

“I’ve seen it even in Japan and Europe. Wheeling a large suitcase in the Tokyo Metro or through the center of Dublin or Madrid is just inconvenient and quite annoying.”

3. Overpacking

suitcase overstuffed with clothes

Packing too many clothes means dragging around heavy suitcases and trying to jam them into taxis or other public transportation. There’s also the stress of luggage being overweight, in which case you will either have to pay extra or remove some items. 

4. Not Checking the Date on Your Passport in Advance

woman holding passport and flight tickets

There are so many different aspects to plan when traveling, from flights to hotels to getting site-seeing passes, that we often forget to check the date on our passports. 

“In most countries it needs to be in date and valid for however long their visas are so that you won’t get stuck with an expired passport in their country.”

“Your passport needs to be valid for six months after arriving in a lot of countries.”

5. Only Looking at the Cost of Flights

woman on a laptop holding her credit card sitting beside luggage.

It’s important to not just focus on the cost of the flight. You need to consider many other factors, and cheap flights are notorious for being unreliable.  

“Cheap flights are cheap for a reason. Don’t expect budget airlines to make it on time if you have a tight connection, or will have to go through immigration on your layover. Also, their policies towards, carry-ons, checked-bag sizes varies and you might have to unexpectedly fork up some more money.”

6. Not Protecting Yourself from Thieves

man stealing wallet from purse.

Don’t walk around with your phones and wallets easily accessible to anyone. Hold your bags tight and keep your valuables close to you. 

“In busy European centers pick pocketing is a legitimate (but illegal!) Way to make a living. Protect your stuff and keep anything valuable out of your pockets.”

“Don’t put your phone on top of the table when you dine out especially if you are outside. A common tactic for thieves is to grab phones off of tables as they walk past cafes.”

“I always leave at least one credit card, a few days’ worth of cash and either my driver’s license or my passport (depending on what I don’t need that day) in my hotel room. Usually buried in my baggage somewhere as I’ve learned not to trust hotel safes.”

“I always keep my passport, credit/debit cards, eticket numbers inside my clothing in a place where I would know if anyone was trying to get at them. Same with my phone but in a slightly more accessible spot.”

7. Trying to See it All

man and woman tired of site seeing and trying to do too much

Many tourists try to jam-pack their itineraries with as many attractions as possible. But it’s often too much, too tiring, and adds stress to what should be a relaxing vacation.

“Drafting a huge list of must-sees and feeling bound to it. Leaving room for the unplanned, the happy accidents, the not-so-happy ones, and simply time to actually enjoy oneself, is what makes memories.”

“Before you go, pick one or two (or a few, if you’re there for a longer time) sights/experiences that you 100% want to do, and prioritize those. Trying to do it all is stressful and makes your trip less enjoyable.”

8. Packing all Your Medication in One Bag

all the medications packed together

Packaging something as important as medications in one bag is a big travel mistake. If bags are checked in, and the flight doesn’t leave, you won’t get your medication on time.

“You should always have your regular medication in three batches, one in your check-in luggage, one in your on-board luggage, and one on your body in your coat pocket; checked in luggage can be lost or misdirected, on-board luggage can, if the plane is overloaded, be changed to check in at the gate (or your purse gets stolen), so if you have emergency medication, never ever put it into the bag, always have it on you.”

“If you bring narcotics or restricted painkillers, make sure the country you are visiting has no prohibitive rules, and if they do, bring a note from your doctor about it being essential for you (preferably in at least English).”

“Bring a written list of your medication or the leaflet or one side flap of the package, which includes the dosing and the name of the active ingredient (not just the brand name), in case something gets lost and you need a replacement.”

9. Packing Everything You Need in a Checked Bag

luggage being scanned and checked in

“Don’t pack things you might need in the next 48 hours in a checked bag. I sat on a horribly delayed flight in summer thunderstorms one night listening to the woman behind me cry hysterically that all the phone and iPad chargers for her 3 kids were in the checked bags and they’d been delayed and had to change flights several times since early that morning.”

“Carry really important stuff with you. I keep my ID + some cash in an inner zip pocket of my favorite jacket so it’s never lost. My meds are always in my carry on backpack.”

10. Not Being Prepared if a Flight has Delays or Cancellations

family of husband, wife and daughter are tired from delayed flight. Sitting in airport chairs

When traveling, there is always a risk that an airplane can be delayed or canceled because of mechanical problems, the weather, or other reasons. Booking a flight where the connection is tight can delay the entire trip and cause a loss of money from booking hotels and more.

“When you hear that the plane has a mechanical problem, not assessing your situation immediately. If you have the time to wait, OK. I travel for a living and as soon as I hear mechanical problem and I have a tight connection, I’m on the phone with the airline rearranging my next flight. Mechanical problems are never fast fixes with the paperwork, etc. It’s usually hours or a canceled flight or a new plane, and then possibly waiting for a new crew. Mechanical issues can be a death knell. Get a head start on the airline as soon as you hear them and plan your next move. I’ve been stranded and spent too many nights in an airport to count due to them.”

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