When traveling we all make mistakes. Every one of the travel mistakes on this list comes from painful personal experience — often multiple times repeating the same mistakes.
Whether it’s your first trip abroad or you travel several times a year, these tips will help you avoid the biggest travel mistakes that can ruin a trip.
It’s tempting to bring outfits for every possible occasion, but it makes it difficult to haul your luggage around, and you may get stuck with high baggage fees for accidentally exceeding the weight limit. Instead, pack your bag as usual, then take out half the clothes you originally planned. You won’t wear all of them, you don’t have to sacrifice style, and you can always do some laundry on the road. And you’ll spend less time waiting for your bag(s) at the carousel.
2Folding Your Clothes
If you want to save money on clothes while you’re away or avoid paying baggage fees for overweight luggage, don’t fold your garments as you put them in a suitcase, roll them. There is lots of air between the clothes when you fold them – space in which you can fit two extra pairs of shoes or a week’s worth of underwear. Don’t take up extra room with toiletries if your hotel provides them.
3Booking A Flight On The Wrong Day
“The best time to book a flight is on Tuesday night or Wednesday early morning. And the best time to fly is on a Wednesday because it’s farthest from the weekend. Companies want to push sales. The timing is similar with hotels. Avoid the days ahead of the heaviest travel days for holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas and the one or two days after. If traveling to Latin countries such as Costa Rica, Semana Santa (Easter Week) is a very busy period. High demand means high prices.
4Not Checking Your Cell Phone Plan
It’s important to know what your plan covers to avoid data roaming fees. Not covered? Turn off your data before you get on the plane and leave your phone in airplane mode (you’ll still be able to connect to wi-fi). If data is important to you, look into buying an international plan or buying a local SIM card once you arrive.
If you are traveling from Costa Rica, set up roaming with your provider such as Kolbi (ICE), Movistar or Claro. For travel in Central America and several countries in South America, Claro and Movistar in Costa Rica have plans for “local calling” prices in other countries and no need to set up roaming, your cell phone will automatically adjust.
5Not Booking Enough Time in Between Flights
Flight conditions can be unpredictable. If one gets delayed, you might be forced to rush through an unfamiliar airport to make your connecting flight, and you might not make it in time. It’s best to book them with a safe buffer in between.
6Not Informing Your Credit Card Company of Your Travel Plans
Some credit card companies flag foreign transactions in case of credit card fraud and may freeze your account – that is your card is declined even for the smallest purchase. Contacting your company ahead of time saves you the frustration and expense of calling long distance. Also, check to see if you can update your foreign travel online, a big time (and cost) saver if you are visiting multiple countries in one trip.
7Not Checking Visa or Travel Requirements
Being turned away at a foreign checkpoint will be expensive, time-consuming, and possibly put an end to your trip. Travelers carrying a Canadian, U.S. or European Union country passport have no visa requirements to enter Costa Rica and neighboring countries. Passports are individual, ensure that everyone in your travel party can enter the country.
On important note here is travel to Costa Rica from Colombia. Costa Rica requires a yellow fever vaccine stamp if you are a visitor arriving in Costa Rica from Colombia. The vaccine must be appliced at least 10 days prior to your arrival in Costa Rica.
8Not Asking For Discounts or Upgrades
Don’t be shy; don’t be scared, ask. You can save yourself a lot of money or enjoy your trip in more comfort. Not finding a good deal online doesn’t mean one is not available. Agents and airlines have travel deals all the time. If you couldn’t get a discount or upgrade while booking, don’t be shy or afraid to ask at the airline line check-in counter, and AT THE BOARDING GATE.
9Flying During The Day
Flights at night or odd hours, like late evening or at night come with typically lower rates, fewer delays, fewer crowds at airports and the potential to sleep through the flight. Early morning flights usually mean fewer delays. Choosing the right flight of the day can sometimes mean big savings.
10You Don’t Have Your Own Entertainment
Charge all your electronic devices and load them with you favorite movies, music, etc. You can’t count on an airport’s Wi-Fi and is often not free and slow. Some airlines are now offering entertainment on tablets – no screen on the seat ahead of you – which you need to rent from them if you don’t bring yours.
11Not Checking In Online
Save time at the airport or at least do what you can to make it minimal. Most airlines have a ‘bag drop off’ for passengers checked-in online. For international travel, the checked-in line is short and quick for the airline agent to check your documents. During your online check-in you can also sign up for flight alerts. On my last flight on Air Canada from San Jose to Toronto, the travel alert was on my phone before the pilot made the announcement of the delay, and once again before cleared for take-off.
12Forgetting To Drink Water
Traveling tends to dehydrate you, which can wreak havoc on your body. It’s important to keep water on-hand. Staying hydrated will help you feel better when you land, keeping energy levels up. Dehydration dries your skin and causes muscle cramps, headaches, bad breath, fatigue and bad mood. Don’t do any of these to yourself. Bring your own bottle and refill it often to save money.
13Booking Tickets Over The Phone
Booking a flight over the phone or at the ‘agencia’ (at the airline agency or airport counter) costs an additional US$25 in San Jose. Some credit card providers charge to book travel, with reward points or not. The usual cost is between US$15 and US$35. Save money. Book online.
14You Don’t Talk To Locals
Do you want to go to secret locations only locals know? Be nice to them and make friends. Unspoiled and almost empty beaches, forests, valleys, camping locations and hiking trails may be within a few miles of where you’re staying. But you may be missing out because you were too close-minded and only read the travel brochure.
15Not Being Impulsive
The unexpected experiences often end up being the most fun. Plan as much as you can, but leave some room for maneuvering. What if you knew you were going to visit a museum but didn’t like it? Don’t endure it for another minute and leave. Go hiking, BASE jumping, canopying, river rafting or surfing. Don’t eat hamburgers all the time, try exotic cuisine. Avoid the tourist traps and enjoy a real adventure.
16Staying In Tourist Areas
It’s easy to pick out the most popular sites, a Google search will provide you with all the ‘hot spots’. But usually means overpriced food and services. Avoid popular destinations. Go on an adventure. Make your trip an adventure.
17Not Having Travel Insurance
Things happen. And at the least expected time. Cancelled flights, delays due to bad weather, natural events, like a volcano eruptions. An injury or getting sick can not only ruin your trip or vacation but ruin you financially. Travel insurance will cover the unexpected, even your medical costs, hospital stay and your way home.
18Not Having Copies Of Important Documents
Your passport, credit cards, and hotel reservations are very important documents of which you should have a copy in case the originals get stolen. They can be used as proof that you actually made a reservation so you won’t sleep on the street and/or that you are a citizen and can enter the country. The last one happens more than one thinks.
19Your Face Is In Your Phone All The Time
People are addicted to their cell phones. An addiction hard to break. But you should try your best to enjoy yourself, look around you instead of your phone. Disconnect as much as possible, connect at points in the day to check emails, check in with loved ones back home, etc. but do your best to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of life and people back home. Don’t miss the magic of the moment in your adventure, the magic of unwinding and simply relax. If you can’t, choose a destination where there is no cellular service, pretty hard to do, I know.