Whether it’s for leisure or business, planning a trip overseas is an exciting experience. From looking at tourist spots to picking luxury accommodation for an awesome staycation, travel is definitely an activity you will look forward to.
After shopping for the perfect suitcase and scouring for travel inspiration online, you’ll think that you’re all set for the adventure of your life. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking can leave you vulnerable to a lot of mistakes.
Between currency differences, language barriers, and travel documentation requirements, international travel requires more time and effort in planning compared to a trip around your home country.
To make sure you prepare for it well, you must avoid these six huge mistakes that can take the fun out of traveling abroad (and potentially ruin your budget):
Mistake #1: Not Researching Your Destination
Whether the destination has already been set or you’re still looking for one, it is crucial that you get some information on the place you’re visiting before everything else. Making this your top priority in your travel plans will do wonders for your trip later.
Although there are several things you must research, it is wise to begin with where you’re staying. The location of your accommodation can make your trip either an enjoyable experience or a frustrating one.
You’ll need to consider its proximity to the places you plan to visit. If you must learn how to navigate the public transport system, you might end up spending extra time and money that could’ve been used for more important things.
Of course, you’ll have to establish a balance between saving time and cash and getting the most out of your trip. There are certain places away from the central business district that are worth staying in despite being far away from the comforts of city living. Unless you’re on a business trip and need to be close to the city center, consider staying close to the heart of smaller towns.
Also, you’ll need to check if the hotel or bed-and-breakfast you’re staying at is near the airport or train station. This will save you a bit of travel time, especially if you’re arriving late or leaving very early.
Mistake #2: Paying Too Much
The cost of an international trip, regardless of its purpose, is another major factor that can make or break it. This is especially true for travelers on a budget.
But how can you possibly know that the price of plane tickets or hotels is too high? Easy. Check online.
If you tend to book the first vacation package or roundtrip tickets you see in advertisements, the chances are you’ll spend more than you should. Avoid paying too much by scouring the Internet for promotional offers and travel deals.
Remember, before you purchase a plane ticket or book hotels and vacation packages, compare the rates in at least three online travel portals. Shop around for the best hotel deals, early bird ticket prices, and complete travel packages that cover airfare, accommodation, and probably even tours.
Mistake #3: Failing to Maximize Travel Rewards
Most travelers who are new to international trips fail to maximize travel rewards, especially if they don’t plan on flying often. However, this shouldn’t be the case.
Even if you don’t intend to go on frequent trips overseas, it is crucial that you sign up for travel reward programs that churn out airline miles and hotel points. Even if you cannot use these during your first trip abroad, you’ll at least have these tucked away just in case you travel again.
Plus, earning such incentives is quite easy, so long as you have a good credit history and can repay your credit card balances every month. You can also take advantage of signup bonuses many airline credit card providers and hotel cards offer. This can range from free round-trip flights to free nights of accommodation.
Mistake #4: Exchanging Cash at the Airport
One thing you’ll need in most places you go to is cash. But since various countries have varying currencies, you might have to visit a money changer on the way there.
However, you must never attempt to exchange cash at the airport. Although currency exchange booths offer convenience, they usually exploit travelers’ needs and lack of knowledge by providing lousy exchange rates. Not only will this cost you more, but it can also leave you hanging as many of these booths aren’t open for 24 hours.
Rather than waiting until you arrive at the airport, have your money changed before you depart your home country. Also, digging up information on how much public transport or taxis cost in your destination can help you make the best decision on how much cash you’d need.
Mistake #5: Forgetting Your Passport
You’re probably thinking: “How in the world could someone who’s traveling abroad forget their passport and visa?”
Believe it or not, even experienced travelers make grave mistakes of leaving their passport behind or failing to apply for a visa. Fortunately, this can be avoided easily. With early planning and ample preparation, you can ensure that all your important travel documents are packed in your bag by the time you head for the door.
When packing essentials like travel documents, you can try the following two-fold approach:
Have a packing checklist
Checklists are great for organizing just about anything, but these are most crucial in packing for an international trip. These become even more useful if you make your entries as detailed as possible by including what you plan to use every day on your trip.
Pack important things together
Aside from adding these to a checklist, gathering your passport, visa, and all other essentials into one place is also a good idea. Even better, put these in the bag you plan to hand-carry throughout the trip to make sure these are with you no matter where you go.
Mistake #6: Not Applying for a Visa When Needed
If you’re a citizen of the United States, United Kingdom, or Caribbean nations that offer a second passport through citizenship by investment programs, then you’re probably used to not needing a visa when traveling to most countries. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll never need such a document. After all, there’s still a limit to the places where you can travel visa-free.
Also, remember that even though you’ve been in the country in the past, it’s still wise to review current travel policies that cover your destination country as these may change over time.
Have a Worry-Free Trip
Traveling overseas is a major milestone. As such, it should be planned for early and carefully.
To make sure you have the time of your life, avoid the biggest mistakes international travelers make. With this article as your guide, you should be able to have a worry-free trip.