Travel mistakes can range from being a mere inconvenience to downright costly. Here are seven top travel mistakes to watch out for when planning your getaways.
The travel season is upon us, bringing with it the chance to return to our favourite holiday destinations for a sorely needed visit.
The anticipation is intoxicating, but in the excitement of giddily putting together your travel plans, don’t fall prey to these seven common travel mistakes, lest you end up burning a hole right through your bank account.
1. Buying the wrong travel insurance plan
The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt made clear the importance of travel insurance. However, travel insurance isn’t just about having the option to receive reimbursement for your cancelled plane tickets – it plays an important role in preserving your finances too.
One common mistake travellers make is to simply go for the cheapest travel insurance plan they can find. No point paying more for something you likely won’t end up using anyway, right?
Yes, but what if an accident really happens, and you do end up needing to make a claim, only to find that your benefits are less than you need, or worse, not applicable because you decided to cheap out?
Understand that the cheapest tiers of travel insurance plans may not offer the full range of benefits and coverage, which means it’s risky to make your decision based on the marketing copy itself.
Instead, be sure to take your time to search for a travel plan that suits your needs and your budget; yes, it’ll take some time and effort due to the plethora of travel plans out there, but it’ll be well worth your while.
2. Waiting too long to buy plane tickets
You may be tempted to hold off on buying your plane tickets for a chance to score some last-minute flash deals, but you’re more likely to be faced with higher prices instead.
Plane ticket prices are more likely to increase towards the last 28 days before departure, according to data from Expedia.
But you don’t want to buy your ticket too early either; while flights go on sale up to 12 months before departure, prices are likely to be elevated right out of the gate, before slowly trending downwards.
The sweet spot? Around three to four months before departure – that’s when you’re likely to get the best price.
If you’re unable to lock in your travel plans that early, look for tickets with a refund or flexible change policy.
Related to this topic: Travel Insurance: The Safeguard You Need Against Flight Disruptions and Baggage Delays
3. Packing too much
Overpacking makes you pay more in luggage fees. Also, if your luggage goes missing, you’ll end up losing more of your belongings.
Plus, you’ll have less space in your bags to bring home snacks and souvenirs, and you may end up buying a new luggage case to bring home all your shopping.
Stave off the temptation to pack too much by asking yourself this question: “If I really need to use this on my trip, can I buy it from a shop?” Chances are, unless you’re going on a trek to the Arctic or the Gobi Desert, the answer is almost always “yes”.
Besides, the chance of you actually needing that fourth pair of pants during your trip is even slimmer than you think.
4. Packing the wrong things in your carry-on bag
Checking in all your luggage certainly makes it easier when getting off the plane and getting to customs. However, if your checked bags become delayed or lost, you’ll be left in limbo.
That’s why it’s important to pack the right things in your carry-on bag. Namely, you should pack items that can see you through for the first day or two of your trip. That way, you will be able to wait to see if missing luggage eventually turns up, instead of having to spend immediately on clothes and other necessities.
You should also store your travel documents, laptop or tablet, and other important or high-value items in your carry-on bag, so you’ll always have them with you.
5. Not bringing your ATM or debit card
Overseas trips are awesome opportunities to supercharge your air miles earn rate, but having just your credit cards isn’t ideal when you find yourself needing cash overseas.
This is because credit cards charge hefty fees when withdrawing cash from an ATM, as they are typically regarded as cash advances.
Instead, using your ATM or debit card to withdraw the cash you need will cost less, but you’ll need to look for a compatible ATM with logos that match the ones on your card.
And while we’re on the subject, try to plan ahead when withdrawing cash from an ATM. This is because each withdrawal will incur a flat fee, and which means the more times you withdraw, the more fees you pay.
It’s ok to withdraw more than you need – you can always keep the remaining cash for your next trip!
Related to this topic: Cash Vs Credit Card Vs Multicurrency Card For Travelling Overseas
6. Not reading hotel reviews
When searching for your hotel accommodations, don’t just take the overall rating you see on Google or your booking platform at face value. That is an aggregated score that doesn’t tell you the full picture.
Instead, go through customer reviews in detail, especially the 1-star ones, as these will alert you to what other guests found objectionable. Some issues, such as rude staff or unresponsive housekeeping, may be more tolerable than, say, poor soundproofing, bad smells, or even flat pillows.
Repeated complaints will indicate persistent problems, which you may encounter during your stay. Hence, take heed if you spot a pattern of common complaints, and weigh carefully if that is something you’ll be able to deal with.
Otherwise, you may find yourself having to book another hotel partway through your trip. Not only will you not get a refund, you will also have to pay inflated prices for a last-minute booking (hotels do this because they know you have no choice).
7. Passing over 3-star hotels
Your Pavlovian response of avoiding anything with less than 4 stars may be causing you to unknowingly spend more on your travels.
Hotels are assigned a certain number of stars based on the range of amenities and services they provide. This ranges from 1-star for a basic bed-and-breakfast property, to 5-stars for a luxury hotel with all the works.
Unlike the ratings you see on Google or Yelp, the hotel star system has nothing to do with customer rating. Staying at a 3-star boutique hotel isn’t necessarily inferior to a 4-star business hotel or a 5-star international franchise.
This is important because going down a star from 5-star to 4 can save you an average of 45% in accommodation, while going from 4 to 3 can slash your hotel expenses by up to 30%, according to Expedia.
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