It is not unusual to make a few careless mistakes whether you embark on your first trip abroad or you travel several times a year. However, these mistakes can be really costly and will most likely turn your travels a little less pleasant and enjoyable.
Here are some of the tips that you should take heed to prevent yourself from falling into the usual tourist pitfalls, making your travels hassle-free as possible.
It is tempting to pack a lot of outfits for every eventuality, but in the end, hauling your luggage around becomes too difficult. Traveling with a heavy backpack, for instance, can be extremely painful, and you’re going to regret having stuffed a dozen outfits, a laptop, a charger, a blow dryer and extra two pairs of footwear into your already half-full luggage. An overpacked bag can also become a waste of time, as it takes you longer to pack and unpack. Climbing up and down the stairs with a full load feels quite like a Calvary.
Plus, overpacking also means paying extra fees for exceeding the luggage weight limit. So resist the urge to overpack as possible.
Instead, pack like a minimalist – this is one of the best things to ensure convenience when you’re on the road. Take half of the outfits that you have initially planned – chances are, you won’t be wearing all of them. Carry only the most essential items and take away the others that you can do without. Look out for lodgings that offer a laundry service, or nearby laundromats. If you’re a backpacker and you find that the laundromat is too expensive, you can always do a quick laundry at the bathroom sink.
2) Bringing traveler’s checks
Before the use of ATM and credit cards gained wider acceptance, traveler’s checks used to be the norm. These checks, issued by banks at a fixed value, are usually converted into cash no matter where you are in the world. While traveler’s checks are still around (believe it or not), their usefulness has been in steady decline in favor of ATM cards and credit cards, which are definitely easier and more convenient to use.
Besides, only a few banks are now willing to accept traveler’s checks and offer them protection in case they are lost or stolen.
3) Skipping travel insurance
While travel insurance means additional expense, you should be reminded that being out on the road can be unpredictable. You never know what will happen along the way. You may get injured, or one of your important belongings may get lost or stolen… or worse! Getting travel insurance provides you protection and security especially when you travel abroad. In fact, it is one of the most essential things that every traveler should have. So be smart – and buy travel insurance.
4) Not taking some local currency
You should grab some local currency as soon as you arrive to a foreign country. You may have ATM cards or credit cards to use whenever possible, but it is also good to keep some local money on hand. It is useful for situations where credit cards are not accepted – such as cab rides and local markets. Keep a little extra cash in case of emergencies. However, if you exchange your money at the airport, beware. Read on to learn about better places to exchange your own money for local currency.
5) Failing to check visa requirements
There’s nothing more frustrating than being refused at a local checkpoint that may forbid you from traveling. It can also be costlier than you think. To prevent that from happening, check the various information on the Internet regarding visa requirements for different countries. Obtaining a visa can be complicated and time-consuming, so you have to be patient with the process. But if you want to get it ASAP, you may have to enlist the help of a visa expeditor for a fee.
6) Failing to make copies of important documents
While it is necessary to bring hard copies of important documents (passports, visas, ID’s, credit cards and insurance policies) it is better to make digital copies of them and save them on a “secret” e-mail account you can easily access. In case these hard copies are lost or stolen, these digital copies can make verification easier and to facilitate renewal processes.
7) Exchanging money at the airport terminal
Unless you have no other choice, do not exchange your money at the airport terminal (or the local money exchanging offices).
Unfortunately, airport terminals are usually the first places people get to exchange their money as soon as they land. Since these airport exchanging terminals know that you need local currency to catch a cab or a train, they will make a lot of money by offering you the worst exchanging rates. You’d be better off setting your money on fire.
To avoid getting ripped off, go to an in-airport bank or a local bank to get the best rates. It is also wise to use an ATM debit or credit card, since they don’t charge extra foreign exchange fee, and it’s as close to the inter-bank rates that you can get.
8) Skipping the local tourism office
Surprisingly, many tourists skip the local tourism information center and instead rely too much on travel guidebooks (and that’s another mistake). For those who are traveling to a different state, province, city or country, a visit to the local tourism office should be your first stop. They will provide you lots of information and advice that you need to arm yourself when traveling to a local area — these include festivals, the best places to stay and even off-the-beaten-path tourist spots that you are not going to find in your travel guidebooks. Their job is to literally know where you are and to guide you in your traveling experience. They will provide you tools such as maps and even discount cards, and inform you where to get the best deals in accommodation, eating out and shopping. Just remember to visit only the accredited offices.