We all make small mistakes while traveling abroad. Many of these blunders can be inconvenient but are unlikely to ruin our trip. However, there are other mistakes that can be very costly and should be avoided. Below are just some of the most expensive travel mistakes to avoid.
Failing to organize essential travel documentation
When traveling abroad, there are certain documents that you need to bring. Fail to bring these documents and you won’t be able to leave the country. This could result in your entire travels having to be cancelled.
Your passport is the most important document that you’ll need. If you haven’t got a passport or your current passport has expired, you’ll need to apply for a new passport several months in advance. Fast-track application options are possible, but they can be a lot more expensive. Once you’ve got your passport sorted, put it in a safe place where you won’t forget it.
A visa is also necessary when traveling to many foreign countries. Every country has its own visa system – you can apply for visas online (if you need a visa to get into America, you can buy it here at esta-america.com). Visas take several days to process so you should apply a week in advance. They are stored as a digital record – you don’t need a physical document, although it can be worth printing off your visa confirmation just in case.
Making phone calls/using data internationally
Before traveling abroad, check your cell phone plan. With many phone contracts, you’re likely to be charged extra for international calls or data usage.
If this is the case, consider upgrading your contract or simply take steps to be careful when abroad. It’s worth turning off data roaming to stop your phone automatically using up costly data in the background. If you need to call someone, use a free internet-based call option like Zoom, Facebook or WhatsApp while connected to your hotel’s wi-fi rather than making a phone call.
Paying with a standard debit/credit card
You should avoid paying by plastic while abroad. Many regular debit cards and credit cards will charge you international fees if you use them in another country.
Instead find a low cost or free option of paying for things while you’re out there. This could include:
- Converting some cash to use while you’re abroad.
- Taking a preloaded foreign currency card.
- Using a specialist credit card with low or no international fees
Forgetting the conversion rate
Paying for things in a different currency can get confusing. Make sure to make a note of the conversion rate so that you know exactly how much you’re spending. Don’t get into the habit of thinking that both currencies are roughly the same value. £150 in the UK is not worth $150 in the US (it’s closer to $200, so you could be spending a lot more than you anticipated).
Forgoing travel insurance
Travel insurance is something that’s useful to have, although you’ll hopefully never need it. In the case that you may need emergency medical treatment, travel insurance can help to pay for medical costs. It could also help to compensate you if your baggage is lost or stolen. You could save yourself a lot of money by having travel insurance in place. This is very important when traveling abroad.
Take the time to compare travel insurance rates before you go. Make sure to check what is included before taking out a scheme.
Booking too last minute
Some people like to book their travels a few weeks beforehand in order to take advantage of last minute deals. It’s certainly true that hotels and flights are much cheaper if you buy them last minute. However, you should be careful of leaving things to the very last minute (i.e. one week before you plan to travel).
Within the last week or two prices may start to spike again. This could mean that you end up paying more than had you booked several months in advance. On top of this, there could be very limited availability and you may not have time to arrange necessary documentation like visas. If you’re booking a last minute trip abroad, book 6 to 2 weeks in advance – this tends to be the best period to grab deals before they begin rising again.
Not checking hidden hotel fees
Before booking a hotel, double-check what is included within the price of the room. Many guests can end up being caught out by hidden hotel costs, which can add to the price of the vacation. A few examples of hidden fees include:
- Wi-fi fees
- Parking fees
- Food and drink (even in all-inclusive resorts, you could find that certain foods and drinks aren’t included).
- Early check-in fees
- Early check-out fees
- Leisure facility fees (e.g. swimming pool, sauna, gym)
If a hotel seems to include lots of extra fees, you may want to be wary of staying there as they could be out to get your money any way that they can.
Not protecting your valuables
You should be careful about taking expensive valuables with you on your travels. There are many ways in which such possessions can get damaged, lost or stolen. If you do decide to take such valuables, make sure to keep them safe and secure.
It’s worth putting a padlock on your luggage when traveling abroad. If you’re backpacking, consider keeping valuable items close to you to stop them being stolen by pickpockets – waist packs (or fanny packs as they’re commonly known) are a great way to keep items like cash and your phone out of reach of thieves. Your hotel room may also contain a safe for storing valuables, but you should only use this if you trust the hotel.
Waterproof covers can meanwhile be useful for keeping electronics protected when by the pool or at the beach. You can also buy tough luggage containers with special compartments for fragile objects – if these suitcases are handled roughly by airport crew, you can be rest assured that your possessions won’t be damaged.