10 Common Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Friday, 14 October 2016
Everyone is guilty of making small (or large) mistakes while travelling. Sometimes these mistakes can just be a slight annoyance. Other times, these mistakes can land you in some serious trouble. Here are 10 common travel mistakes that every traveller may encounter: 

I used to be so guilty of this. I was always the packer who needed options. By the time the trip was over, I would not have worn half of what I packed. When you’re backpacking, over packing can become a huge issue. Not only do you miss out on space for souvenirs but you also add to the weight YOU must carry. A massive 40L backpack might sound like a brilliant idea because of all the stuff you can fit in there but fast forward a few weeks and you’ll be cursing yourself for doing so. Hiking up a mountain with an additional 20kgs doesn’t sound like happiness and joy. 

How to avoid over packing: Pack the bare minimum. There are heaps of amazing posts that detail what you should and shouldn’t pack when travelling. Use those as guidelines whenever you pack. If you find you under packed, you can always buy more clothes at your destination. 

Related Post: What Should I Pack While Backpacking?

Not Doing Any Research About the Place You’re Going
I’ve found from talking with various individuals that they often pick a travel destination based off one thing. They know they want to see (insert sightseeing place here) but they don’t put any further planning into what they want to do. While rarely this can be a good thing, most of the time you end up rather bored or scrambling to find something to do. 

How to avoid having nothing to do: Research the city before leaving. Find a couple activities or sights that peak your interest. Once there, you can get more information from locals to fill up your trip. 

Being Too Ambitious With Your Travel Plans
I am 100% guilty of this. I try to pack as much as I can into one trip because I have a massive fear I’ll miss out on something. It ends up making the trip incredibly stressful whenever a hiccup in the plans happen. 

How to avoid being too ambitious with travel plans: You definitely can plan the heck out of your trip. Plan till the cows come home. But use this plan as a guideline. Prepare yourself to have to cut some of the places from the plan. 

Taking Cash Out At the Wrong Places
I used to be the person who would take money from the ATM or out at the airport. Doing this makes you susceptible to fraud and getting slammed with fees.

How to avoid paying super high withdrawal fees: I’ve found you get the best exchange rate when you take money out from a bank. Prior to your departure, try to find a bank that is close to where you plan on staying. If you’re unable to do so, swapping currency at the airport is the next best option. 

Sticking To Tourist Areas
This tends to be the problem with guidebooks, you get sent to touristy areas. If at one point they were not that touristy, millions of people reading about it and going there have made it touristy.

How to avoid tourist traps: Ask at your hotel where they recommend. Tell them you want to avoid typical tourist restaurants. I’ve gotten some amazing recommendations this way. 

Keeping All Your Money in One Place
People call me paranoid, but I’ve always separated my money and credit cards while travelling. Imagine you’re out enjoying the new city you’re in and bam! Someone comes and pickpockets you or flat out robs you. You’ve kept all your money with you in your wallet thinking this was the safest place. Now, what?

How to avoid potentially losing all your money: Split up where you keep your money. I’m not going to detail how and where I split up all my money but just don’t keep it all in the same place. I’ve also seen people make some amazing decoy wallets. I would highly recommend buying a travel purse that can be placed under your shirt. You’ll definitely notice if someone is sticking their hand down your top. 

Related Post: Vietnam | Ho Chi Minh City: A Rocky Adventure

Not Keeping Copies of Important Documents
It can happen to anyone. You could be travelling and misplace your passport. You could arrive at a hotel and they claim you never booked a reservation. This leaves you stranded, stuck, and potentially forking out a lot more money you didn’t originally budget. 

How to avoid this mishap: Always carry copies of your travel documents. Not one carry around heaps of paper (especially if you’re on a longer trip), email copies of all important documents to yourself and your family/friends. This way, if you find yourself in a bad situation you have backups. 

Not Purchasing Travel Insurance
You never think you need it until you’re stuck in a country after a natural disaster finding that you now need to rebook a new flight at your own cost. 

How to avoid this mishap: Just spend the like $8 needed to get travel insurance. If you want to get a full coverage insurance, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Not all policies are created equal. If you’re prone to getting sick, make sure you have a policy that will cover you. Your bank account will thank you later. 

Not Respecting the Culture of the Country You’re In
I watched this happen so many times throughout my travels. I hate to say it but some of the biggest offenders are Americans who have never left the country. Not only does it make you really stand out as a tourist but it can land you in a whole heap of trouble. 

How to avoid disrespecting another culture: Do a fair bit of research about the culture prior to your travels. In some cultures, it is highly offensive to tip. Sometimes you can be jailed for chewing gum or eating durian. There is a great book Kiss, Bow, or Handshake that a friend of mine introduced me to that is a great basic cheat sheet for international travels. 

Not Double Checking Dates Before Booking
Oh, how I’ve made this mistake time and time again. I’m known for not looking at how the calendar on the website is written and booking a day early or a day late. It can be incredibly confusing when you’re booking a trip in a country that writes the date day/month/year and you come from a country that writes the date month/day/year. 

How to avoid mixing up your travel dates: General rule of thumb, if you’re travelling outside of the US, chances are the dates are written day/month/year. Also, double and triple check before you press buy. Make sure you don’t make the same mistakes I have and book a trip for Saturday when you meant Sunday. 

Every trip will come with its hiccups so it's best to be as prepared as possible. How many of these travel mistakes have you made? 

And until next time...

Stay Curious!

Never miss an adventure by following along on social media:


  1. Great tips! As full-time travellers we have already encountered some of these mistakes and heard from other travellers. Most common is overpacking. We have done our packing right this time but many other people struggle with this. I totally agree with keeping money in separate places and having a good travel insurance with you!

    1. I try so hard not to overpack but I always seem to end up doing so. One day I'll get the hang of it! I'm so glad someone else agrees about keeping money in separate places. My friends I travel with think I'm crazy.

  2. Haha I can definitely relate to the being too ambitious part. Once tried to pack whole of Paris in two days. Today, however, I prefer arriving in a place, knowing my options, and then just let things happen. Oh and yeah, the double checking dates :D I did book a wrong flight once... sigh. Great post & happy traveling :)

    1. I almost missed a flight because I thought the flight left the next day. Darn those flights leaving after midnight.

  3. Very vital points to be checked and rechecked. One miss and the vacation goes for a toss.

    1. Very true! Especially if you have multiple travel destinations in one trip.

  4. This was an awesome list and something I will share with some people. I have become a very good traveler and every single thing on this list, I follow. Here's to many more journeys!! :D

    1. That's so awesome! Here's to many more successful journeys!

  5. Great post! I'm sometimes guilty with #1 too -- but now, guess I've learned my lesson. I don't keep copies of my important docs but I think I'll start doing so now.

    1. It's very helpful in case something gets stolen or your cellphone runs out of batteries. I think overpacking is the hardest to overcome.

  6. 😂 I'm always so guilty of over packing! I say each time that I won't...but I do! Great tips, thank you for sharing! Sharleen ♡

    1. Me too! I try so hard and still somehow always end up overpacking.

  7. These are all mistakes that all of us have done in some stage of our travels. I still remember the day when I had my pocket picked. However the saving grace was we had stacked away some cash in a bag as well.

    1. It's such a terrifying experience! So happy to hear you had some extra cash hidden away and that you were safe.

  8. A great list there thank you. I always take a photo of important documents and email them to myself is the best way. That way I can always access them with WIFI.

    1. I do the same! I also email them to a family member or friend in case anything happens.