We’ve had so many good memories traveling. So many good stories to tell and friends to visit. Beautiful places to see and tasty food to eat. But there are a few experiences we could’ve done without. I hope you never make these mistakes. But if you do, I hope you can at least laugh at them later and learn a lesson or two.
1. Leaving a wallet on a taxi. We had an early morning flight out of Christchurch, New Zealand. After arriving at the airport with all of our luggage, we realized that Craig’s wallet was still in the taxi – the taxi that already left the airport. FYI: It’s kind of hard to check in without ID. Someone at the information desk was extremely helpful in contacting the taxi. Thankfully, we managed to get the wallet back – with everything in it. But the stress during the wait was no fun!
Lesson learned: After you pay the driver, immediately put your wallet back in your pocket instead of on the seat in the car.
2. Booking 5 am flights. A 5 am flight means getting up in time to get ready and drive all the way to the airport to check in on time. These flights are the worst, especially with kids. And for some reason, we’ve booked them more than once.
Lesson learned (almost): Flying at 5 am makes for a really long travel day.
3. Forgetting to check the weather before you go. Isn’t it warm in May? Not in New Zealand! I don’t know what we were thinking when we showed up with our summer clothes. I’m glad we at least all had one sweatshirt and pair of long pants. Those came in handy every day of our vacation.
Lesson learned: Check www.weather.com before your next vacation so you can plan your wardrobe appropriately. Also, if you end up somewhere with the wrong clothes, it’s okay to wear the same ones over and over again.
4. Booking an economy vehicle. Economy means economy. Want luxuries like automatic locks and cruise control and space for your suitcase? Don’t rent an economy vehicle.
Lesson learned: Research and rent a car suitable for your family needs.
5. Packing too much stuff. There have been too many times I’ve returned from a trip with a stack of clean, unused clothes in my suitcase. That is totally unnecessary, especially since I usually end up washing all of them anyway.
Lesson learned: Pack your suitcase, then look at everything and take a few items out. Ask yourself, “Can I live without this for a week?” If the answer is yes, leave it home. (Besides, it’ll save you money when it comes to baggage fees, too!)
6. Checking into a hotel with no baggage cart available . We once checked into an economy hotel in Brisbane, Australia at about midnight. We had a ton of luggage and there were no luggage carts. Craig went inside, opened the hotel room window, and we put our luggage through the window instead of carrying it through the entire hotel. (Kind of scary to think you can even do that at a hotel!)
Lesson learned: If you need assistance with large amounts of luggage, book a hotel with a bellhop or at least one of those luggage carts. One more thing: avoid checking in at midnight.
7. Not researching the best way to exchange foreign currency. The first time I left the USA, I exchanged money at the currency exchange kiosk in an airport – probably one of the most expensive ways to exchange money.
Lesson learned: Find out what kinds of fees are associated with your ATM and credit cards before using them overseas. You’ll have a few extra bucks if you do this.
8. Not finding out if car rental agencies accept debit or cash payments. At one place in Brisbane, Australia, the car rental place told us we’d have to have a $500 cash deposit if we wanted to pay using cash instead of credit card.
Lesson learned: Inquire about methods of payment before arriving to pick up your car. Consider carrying a credit card when traveling.
9. Not finding out whether your car rental location has a shuttle to the airport. When we were in New Zealand once, we ended up paying for a taxi because we didn’t know what time the car rental place was open and had a shuttle running. If we would’ve confirmed the hours of operation, we could’ve avoided this extra cost and taken the shuttle they offered during their business hours.
Lesson learned: Arrange transport to and from your car rental location and/or the airport before you get there. Confirm the hours of operation of your car rental agency.
10. Not confirming hotel and flight reservations. One time, Craig was supposed to take a connecting flight from Manila to Hawaii, but when he got to the airport, that flight didn’t even exist anymore. Here in PNG, I know that flights are sometimes changed or cancelled and the passengers aren’t even notified.
Lesson learned: Always take the initiative to confirm your travel reservations before heading out. Don’t rely on the airline or travel agency to do it for you.
What travel mistakes have you made? What lessons did you learn from them?