What are the worst travel mistakes you could commit? There are plenty of pitfalls, which mostly are a result of bad planning. In this post, find out what you need to pay close attention to when planning your next journey.
Letting someone else book the trip
How much do you trust your mates to make the right decisions about going on a trip? Call me a control freak, but while it’s tempting to let someone else do all the hard parts like booking flights and accommodation, you’re leaving a lot of variables for things to go wrong.
For example if you don’t live in the same area, they might book you on a flight at an airport that’s a long way from where you live. Or, book you into a hotel out in the middle of nowhere, miles from anything fun. Or on the flip side, book you into a party hostel where there’s no chance of sleep.
If you’re particular about your likes and dislikes, then save yourself the aggro and make sure you’re happy with the holiday plans. There’s nothing worse than turning up and hating the entire holiday because its a million miles off what you would usually want to do.
Not checking where the accommodation is
…Or more specifically, where your accommodation is in relation to everything else. Its not ideal when you turn up at your apartment and discover it’s a 30 minute walk or 10 minute taxi ride to the city centre, or to the beach. Even less so if you discover it’s actually one of the roughest neighbourhoods in the city you’re in.
Before you book anything, make sure you know exactly how far it is to the main attractions and activities you want to take part in. Distances can look unclear when just looking at two points on Google Maps, so make sure you use the navigation mode to see how far it actually is to walk. Time is precious, so don’t end up on a holiday where you’ll have to commute in and out each day!
Not planning your onward journey
The cheapest flights tend to either depart very early in the morning or late at night, so it can be tempting to take a late flight home to get an extra day in your destination. However, make sure you plan your your full trip at the time of booking your flights to avoid any issues. Ever arrived at an airport after the last train to the city? It’s not nice.
This happened to me on a visit to Vienna. Having booked a late flight from Heathrow, which was then delayed for an hour, I touched down pretty. Knowing the train to the city leaves at 6 minutes past and 36 minutes past the hour, I quickly grabbed a return ticket from the machine and sprinted to the station.
No trains were running until 5 am – and I’d missed the last one by an hour. Even if the flight was on time, I wouldn’t have made it through passport control in time! Cue me taking a very expensive taxi ride to the city centre, and very painful too, for someone as tight as me.
The moral is, don’t book your flights unless you know where you’re going once you arrive at the airport, and how you’ll do it. I may have saved money on the flight, but the taxi ride and the unnecessary train ticket made the flight much more expensive than the earlier flight.
Not putting clothes in your carry-on luggage
Ever had your luggage shipped off to the wrong destination or lost in transit? It’s not a great feeling, and can be extremely inconvenient. Not putting clothes in your carry-on is a rookie mistake and could leave you with nothing to change into for a few days.
Always make sure your bare essentials are in your carry-on, which not only includes a change of clothes, but also a toothbrush and toothpaste, your laptop or iPad, and phone charger with a local adaptor.
Going to the wrong airport
Chances are that this is unlikely to happen when flying out from the city you’re from – though I’ve heard countless stories of people doing this, particularly in London where you have six airports to choose from.
It’s more likely to be an issue at the other end, however, if you’re going to a major city. You may not necessarily know the names of the airports at your destination, or how many there are, so it can be easily missed. When you’re booking your flight, you’ll probably be more pre-occupied with getting a good priced flight to Berlin, rather than looking specifically for Berlin Tegel Airport or Berlin Schönefeld.
If you’re not careful, you could end up getting a flight to one airport and a return from a different one, likely resulting in either one epic taxi fare, or huge embarrassment when you return to the office a day late.
Overpacking your bags
Packing light is the ultimate travel hack, but there are certain things that you just have to bring with you. Bag allowances vary by airline, which is why it’s important to be clued up on what is and what isn’t allowed. Some airlines have unlimited weight allowances in hand luggage, with the caveat that the permitted bag sizes are tiny (though still good value for any lead couriers out there).
Before you fly, be sure to check up to date baggage allowance information, such as this guide at Skyscanner. Here, you’ll find that EasyJet and Delta have no maximum weight on most routes, and British Airways offer a generous 23kg, so provided you pack your bag tight, you can avoid hold luggage all together.
On the other end of the scale, you’ll see that Thomas Cook only allow a 6kg limit – barely enough for a laptop and one pair of Y-fronts.
Aside from this, there’s only two other ways you could really get caught out. First is if you share a hold bag with someone else and forget to weigh it – you might think you’re packing light, but you never know what your companion will bring. Get it wrong and you’ll either face a hefty charge, or left frantically disposing of all your bottles of suncream.
Second, is if you’re flying with one airline on the way out and another on the way home. It’s easy to forget about the return trip, but if their baggage restrictions are lower, you need to pack for the way back, not the way out.