7 Travel Mistakes Easier to Make Than You Think

Don’t fall victim to these simple stumbles that can make or break your next vacation.

laguardia airport, queens, new york city, planes, tarmac, blue sky

laguardia airport, queens, new york city, planes, tarmac, blue sky

A scenic view of Laguardia airport showing the old controller tower photographed from an airplane on December 8, 2010 in New York City

Photo by: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

As regular travelers, we think we know it all. Our passports are up-to-date, we get to the airport with time to spare and we check in at the correct hotel (not the one across town with a similar name). Still, it's remarkably easy to forget critical items at home, like voltage adaptors, then leave equally important items, like phone chargers, behind in hotel rooms. Here are seven mistakes to avoid that are painfully easy to make.

1: Forgetting Items You Might Not Be Able to Buy

For travels abroad, make a list of items you’ll need that aren’t required when you travel within the United States. These include travel adapters and voltage converters, as well as phone chargers and lightning cables. If you do forget a converter, you can find one at a Tesco in England, for example, but it’ll be UK-US, not US-UK, which won’t be much use to you. For phone chargers, you won’t find any with “type A” plugs (two flat parallel prongs), only “type C” plugs (two parallel pins) that are used across Europe. You’ll have no use for this on your return home.

2: Leaving Personal Items Behind

Phone charging with energy bank.

Photo by: Getty Images/yipengge

Getty Images/yipengge

Why for the love of all that is good does it have to be so hard to check out of a hotel with your earbuds, phone charger and sunglasses? The Wedgewood Lodge in Breckenridge, Colorado identified the top nine items left behind in their hotel rooms, citing jewelry as the most common forgotten item. Cell phone chargers were a close second, usually still plugged into wall outlets. Make a checklist of all those pesky items you’re likely to leave behind to review before you hand over your room key. Don’t forget to look within the bed sheets, on the patio, even under hanging towels in the bathroom.

3: Failing to Check Weather Forecasts

Scottsdale, Arizona is known for sunny and mild winter days that draw in those eager to escape the cold. With an average temperature of 71 degrees in February, Scottsdale is just right for hiking, biking and golfing in winter. Usually. This year, however, they got snow. More than just a dusting, too. Sara Wellensiek, a mom blogger at Mom Endeavors, took her kids out of school in late-February to go hiking in the snow. It’s unusual, but it happens, so check the forecast to ensure your travel wardrobe is weather-appropriate.

4: Overlooking Visa Requirements

Iceland: Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon


About 4.5 hours southeast of Reykjavik. Walk the shores of the frigid turquoise lagoon and watch the seals play between the icebergs, or take a boat trip out to get a closer view of the ever changing massive blocks as they drift away from the glassy blue wall that marks the southern edge of the Vatnajokull glacier.

Photo by: Getty Images/grandriver

Getty Images/grandriver

Imagine flying half-way around the world only to get turned away at a foreign checkpoint because you didn’t secure a required visa or failed to bring documentation required to procure a visa at entry. Some countries, like Nauru (the least-visited country in the world), require visitors to obtain a visa by mail. Other countries, like Liberia, allow travelers to purchase a tourist visa on arrival. Still other countries only allow entry as part of a guided tour and a tourist visa can only be secured by the tour operator. Not every country requires a visa, but it’s wise to consult the U.S. State Department website for up-to-the-minute information. Editor's note: And beginning in January 2021 new European Union rules will require Americans traveling to most European Union nations to register online and pay a small fee as part of a new security system to prevent illegal immigration and terrorism.

5: Not Considering On-The-Ground Expenses

Iceland: Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

About 4.5 hours southeast of Reykjavik. Walk the shores of the frigid turquoise lagoon and watch the seals play between the icebergs, or take a boat trip out to get a closer view of the ever changing massive blocks as they drift away from the glassy blue wall that marks the southern edge of the Vatnajokull glacier.

Photo by: Alisha Bube

Alisha Bube

WOW Air does its best to lure travelers to Iceland with ultra-low fares to Reykjavik from many U.S. cities, including Boston and Baltimore. Earlier this year, the airline offered $45 one-way fares from four gateway cities. It’s hard to get lower than that, but you’d be wise to factor in all of your travel expenses before jumping on a low fare. Certain countries, like Iceland, Norway and Switzerland, are very expensive once you’re in-country. As in, food, lodging and transportation costs are much more expensive than destinations with more costly airfares.

6: Not Making Copies


Photo by: Getty Images/YinYang

Getty Images/YinYang

It’s never been easier to make copies of important documents, like passports, IDs, tourist visas, travel insurance policies, credit cards and health insurance cards. Yet, so many travelers fail to do so, ending up in a real bind when their wallet or backpack is stolen. Make copies on a home copier or simply take photos of documents with your phone and email them to an account you can access from anywhere, like Gmail. This will make life a lot easier if you need to cancel credit cards or get a new passport when away from home.

7: Acting Like a Tourist

The United States is not known for pickpockets, but in many cities in Europe, like Barcelona, Rome and Paris, this is the petty crime of choice. Thieves are drawn in by throngs of tourists distracted by the Colosseum and Eiffel Tower, so stay aware and be smart about not looking like a tourist. If you must spread open a map, pop into a drugstore to do so. Look like you know your way around. Do what you can to blend in wardrobe-wise, too. Ditch the white sneakers and flip-flops in favor of comfortable leather shoes. Opt for neutral colors (khakis, greys, navys) and avoid logo t-shirts and baseball caps.

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