10 Big Travel Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Liina Metsküla • 25 Jun, 2020

Making mistakes when planning for a trip could easily ruin it before it even begins. Before you start preparing for your next vacation, be sure to read this advice!

1. Overpacking

If you think, “What if I need it?” when packing your suitcase or backpack, you DON’T need it! “Should I take these jeans? I might want to wear them to the party…” Nope, you don’t need them because you’ve already packed three pairs! “Or an iron in case the hotel doesn’t have one?” Foolishness! The same goes for the three different sun lotions and shower gels.

What’s more, when you fly with a low-cost airline it’s likely you’ll have to pay extra for luggage. If you’re not happy with an added €50 fee, pack light.

Packing-a-Business-Trip-SuitcasePhoto credit: hercampus.com

2. Not making copies of your documents

Some people wonder if there’s any point to making copies of documents. This is fair enough since in most cases they won’t be needed. Still, keep in mind that you’re never fully protected from accidents and thefts. If you lose your documents, things go A LOT smoother if you have copies.

Paper copies can take up precious space and easily be lost, so it makes sense to store your documents digitally. It doesn’t take much to save photos of your passport and PDF copies of transport tickets, hotel reservations and directions etc. to a Dropbox folder. Just make sure you can access your files offline to save you the hassle of having to hunt for Internet.

3. Not investing in travel insurance

Usually nothing terrible happens when you travel. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t take the risk. If you have the money to buy the plane ticket, then you should be able to afford travel insurance. One way to make some savings is to buy insurance that only covers medical expenses. When you miss a flight you can probably manage to fork out for a new plane ticket. When you break a leg, however, you might have to pay thousands of euros. Better safe than sorry!

4. Flashing your valuables around

It’s absolutely fine to take expensive items like your camera and smartphone on trips, just don’t flash them around, especially in shadier areas. I was once taking photos in Rio at night and my Brazilian friend said I’d better hide my camera. He knew what he was talking about, so I hid it.

As for valuable items that you don’t necessarily need, expensive jewellery for instance, there’s no real reason to take them with you.

Photo credit: Jon Rawlinson

5. Keeping money and travel documents in the one place

Never keep all of your money and travel documents in the one place! If your wallet or bag gets stolen, you’ll be left with nothing but an enormous headache. To be safe, keep your money and documents in several different places, for example in pockets, in your socks and in your bra (this one is for women, obviously!)

6. Spending all day by the pool

Relaxing by the pool is great, but don’t spend your entire vacation there! Go and discover your destination and cool off at the beach if there’s one nearby. If you have to choose between spending a comfortable day by the pool or an exhausting day hiking through the desert, take the second option, please. In a couple of years you probably won’t remember that sunny day by the pool, but the difficult and adventurous hike, that’s a story you’ll be telling for years to come!

4636385049_307cc9138f_bPhoto credit: vmiramontes

7. Not doing your homework

I don’t mean that you should read three different guidebooks before going on a trip. Who has the time for that?! And anyway, oftentimes it’s better to just explore. There are a few basic things, however, that you should be aware of. Are there any dangerous areas to avoid? What are the common scams? What places should you definitely visit?

I went on a trip to China and three hours after landing I bough some very expensive tea. If I’d done my homework I’d have known that selling expensive tea to tourists is one of the most common scams in China.

8. Under-budgeting

You’ve figured out exactly how much you’ll spend on accommodation, transportation and food, so you know exactly how much money to take with you, right? Nope. You forgot to factor in the water, snacks, souvenirs and other little expenses that quickly add up. Try to over-budget – you’ll either be glad you did or delighted when you have some money left over at the end of your trip.

rsz_broken-piggy-bankPhoto credit: FRUM FOLLIES

9. Blindly trusting people

Most travellers enjoy meeting new people, but sometimes people have bad intentions and sometimes bad things happen. So, how do we know whom to trust? This is a difficult question with no clear-cut answer. Just use your common sense and follow your instincts.

10. Getting angry at your destination country

Have you ever experienced culture shock? While the streets might seem dirty, the people impolite and the food strange, it’s important to remember that you’re a guest. When you’re a guest in someone’s home, you respect and follow the host’s rules. How would you like it if someone visited you at home and complained about everything?

In Jamaica I had to wait an hour for the hostel owner to come and check me in. When I mentioned that I wasn’t happy with having to wait so long, he said, “Foreigners can get angry if they want, but I’ll tell you one thing, Jamaicans don’t care about time.” This made me realise how important it is to understand the local rules and customs.

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clifton Fadiman

Liina Metsküla
Passionate traveller. Visited more than 60 countries. Loves Spain, Italy, Brazil, Peru and Guatemala. Works as content marketing manager for a newspaper.


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    Everything is so true! Thanks for all the small useful tips consolidated at one place (article):)
    Yanna • Jun 30, 2020 • Reply
    Very True, but also, two more mistakes: 11. Trusting Shitty Websites, Such As "tripadvisor", "booking.com" and "hostelworld" While there MIGHT be a few reliable reviews there, for the most part, nearly ALL such websites would lie to you with no difficulty whatsoever, protecting places that PAYED them to look good and not allowing ANYTHING negative EVER to be published about them. Three years ago, I had, unfortunately, visited prague and stayed at THE WORST HOSTEL EVER (named "equity point"). When checking practically ALL those websites, I was stunned to see the high rating that the bastards received - and, trying to tell of my own TRUE experience there, I was censored at once. So, do not trust those websites!! Ask only reliable people you PERSONALLY trust. 12. Staying at Crowded Dormitories You might think, "Cool, I'll meets lots upon lots of great people and have lots of fun!!" But normally, this is THE very part that could completely ruin your entire vacation: the wary travelers, checking in and entering your room at 3 am, room which is packed full, the windows closed (that europe of yours is COLD!!) and oxygen long gone, completely, from the area, replaced by a mixture, of CO2, dust and sweat, and last and horrible: that guy above you, who SNORESSSSSSSSSS like a rusty jigsaw. So - unless you're 21-year-old, do not care about all this, or too drunk to notice anyway - DON'T do this to yourself. Save more money and have a room to yourself. It shall pay off immensely, this one's for sure. The other travelers you can meet down at the bar, for sure...
    Danniel Qeletti • Jun 28, 2020 • Reply
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