Despite our best intentions, we all make mistakes from time to time, including when we go abroad. Travel mishaps can be frustrating and costly, but fortunately many of them are easy to avoid with a little planning and preparation. Read this list before you go and you’ll know exactly what to watch out for.
Forgetting travel documents
Before you leave for the airport, triple check your hand luggage for your passport, tickets, and your visa if you need one (be sure to research this well in advance). Remember your driving license if you’re hiring a car.
Getting caught by extra charges
Mobile phone charges can rise dramatically depending on what country you’re in, so make sure you check your operator’s policy before you travel — they may even have a bundle you can buy to save money.
Ask if your bank has any foreign transaction fees, and let them know you’re going abroad to ensure they don’t record your activity as abnormal and suspend your account while you’re away.
Not sticking to a budget
It can be easy to get carried away and want to do absolutely everything while you’re abroad, but running out of money can stop you in your tracks. Figure out what’s most important to you and then work out how you can save money on other parts of the trip. For example, you might decide to head to a local supermarket and make most of your food yourself, or you might book cheaper accommodation if you spend most of your trip out exploring. Set a rough budget for each day, leaving yourself some extra funds in case of emergencies, and stick to it.
Not buying travel insurance
Many trips are trouble free, so finding the right travel insurance can feel like a hassle, but medical costs abroad are a pricy and unwelcome expense. Breaking an arm in Japan, for example, can cost travellers $25,000, so it’s definitely worth making sure you’re covered in case of an emergency. If you’re travelling with a pre-existing illness, disability or carrying a child, travel insurance could be difficult to get, but it’s still an absolute necessity.
Planning too much
Cram too much into your trip and you’ll be overwhelmed, and may not even give yourself enough time to travel from place to place. Factor in transport times, which may not be as reliable as those back home, and make sure you have a moment to pause every now and then.
Not backing up your pictures
Although it’s always worth putting down the camera and experiencing a new place in person, having photos of your memories is priceless, so back them up. Leave them on a memory card (or memory cards, depending on how long your trip is and how many photos you take) and store them on a cloud, so that if you lose any of the cards you’ll still have the photos.
Ignoring local customs
Do your research before travelling so you have an idea of what to expect when you reach your destination. Knowing what’s normal (and what to avoid) is respectful, and will stop you from getting into trouble. Even if you don’t agree with it, keep an open mind — you’ll have a better experience if you’re sensitive to the culture around you.