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The Most Common Travel Mistakes (2023): Tips on How to Avoid Them

Posted by Dianne Chen on
Travel mistakes

It doesn't matter whether you're a rookie traveler or a seasoned jetsetter, travel mistakes happen even to the best of us.

Do it once, and you've gained experience as a traveler. Do it twice, and really? Here are the most common travel mistakes and how you can avoid them.

Before we proceed, here are some important updates if you're traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic:

⚠️ COVID-19 Travel Update

The CDC recommends to avoid all non-essential travel. Staying at home is the best way to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. But if you must travel, read these travel considerations from CDC and remember to observe the following:

✔️ Maintain a social distance of at least six feet at the airport and other public places.

✔️ Wear a mask in public areas at all times. Children under 2 years old and those with breathing problems are exempted from wearing masks.

✔️ Wash your hands regularly with water and soap whenever possible. If hand washing is not an option, disinfect with hand sanitizer.

✔️ Always carry a Hygiene Kit with you. Pack disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, and alcohol. Disinfect surfaces and handles before touching them.

✔️ Avoid touching your face and having contact with anyone who is sick.

To know more details, read CDC's post on travel during the COVID-19 pandemic and how to protect yourself when using public transportation here.

Top 25 Travel Mistakes & How to Avoid Them

Woman looking for something in her tote bag

The greatest thing about common travel blunders is that they can be avoided either before or the next time you go on a trip. And we should be sincerely grateful to the people who made such lapses before us so we can learn from them. Now, pay attention to the top 25 top travel mistakes people make during their trip and some helpful travel tips to correct them.

Mistake #1 - Overpacking

Overpacking a suitcase

In this age of Instagram, it's so tempting to style all your travel snaps like you're in a photoshoot. So you pack according to Rachel Zoe's mantra of "options, options, options" and the next thing you know, you're lugging around an overpacked suitcase throughout your trip. It's one travel problem that most rookies commit.

But don't worry, there are ways to stay on top of your fashion game while traveling without taking your entire closet with you. All you have to do is follow this tip.

Do this: Plan your outfits beforehand and pack accordingly. You can either pack by outfit, by category or by individual just to make it more organized. Make sure not to bring "extras" no matter how tempting it might be. It'll only weigh you down on your trip, literally!  

Mistake #2 - Not Using a Packing List

Packing list and packing cubes

Just packing things right on top of your head will cause you to overpack. Worse, you might even bring useless things you thought you might need and forget about the essentials that you're supposed to bring. What a total nightmare! Unless you've already mastered the art of packing and have memorized every single thing you will need for every type of travel, you're gonna need a packing list to keep you sane and organized.

Do this: Aside from making sure you don't forget to bring your wallet or chargers with you, a packing list is also helpful when traveling as a group. No need to create your own and spend most of your time remembering what to bring. We've got some free packing lists at your disposal. You're welcome!

Mistake #3 - Not Using Packing Cubes

Avoiding overpacking travel mistake by using packing cubes

If you're not using packing cubes to organize your suitcase, you're totally missing out on all the packing fun! This is the ultimate travel hack that you need to try for your next trip, if you haven't already. You see those drawers in your closet that keeps your clothes neat and tidy? Packing cubes are like those drawers that you can take with you anywhere. It doesn't matter if you're packing a suitcase, a backpack, a duffel bag, or even a tote bag - packing cubes can organize them all!

Organizing your carry-on with packing cubes not only creates more space in your checked suitcase, it also provides you with a Plan B in case your luggage gets lost.

Do this: Traveling with the kids? Our Complete Bundle is the perfect packing solution! You can choose the two-color option so you can share 1 suitcase and color code it for maximum organization. New to the packing cube game? Try our Starter Set, it's the ideal packing cube set for newbies and fits perfectly in a carry on!

Mistake #4 - Forgetting About Your Passport & Other Travel Documents

Travel essentials in an extra small cube

This can make or break your trip. No matter how prepared you are with all your clothes packed and ready to go, if you don't have your passport, IDs, and other important travel documents with you, you won't be able to go anywhere. Make sure they're first on your packing list!

Do This: Make digital and printed copies of your passport (valid for more than 6 months), valid IDs, boarding tickets, hotel confirmation information, travel insurance, and itineraries to save yourself from frustration and stress if any of these items go missing. Keep all these documents safe in one place.

Mistake #5 - Not Following the TSA's Liquids Rules for Carry On

toiletries in an extra small cube

If you're packing your favorite shampoo bottle or perfume in your carryon luggage, avoid having them confiscated at the security checkpoint by following TSA's 3-1-1 liquids rule. This means each passenger can only bring liquids, gels, and aerosols in 3.4 ounces containers inside a quart-size bag. If you simply can't live without these bottles, just pack them in your checked luggage.

Do This: Keep all your liquids in a travel size container and leave the bigger bottles at home or in your checked suitcase. Pack them all in our TSA approved toiletry bag for safekeeping. 

⚠️ COVID-19 Update - TSA is currently allowing every passenger to bring up to 12 ounces of hand sanitizer in their carry on suitcase. This will be screened separately. Learn more about TSA's COVID-19 Information here.

Mistake #6 - Not Notifying Your Bank About Your Travel Plans

Piggy bank on white background

Remember to update your bank and credit card company about your trip abroad to avoid having your cards frozen due to suspicious activity. Aside from notifying them, you can also ask your bank representative whether they have ATM partnerships overseas so you can avoid paying transaction fees when you withdraw cash abroad.

Do This: You don't want to come back from your trip with more foreign transaction fees than souvenirs, right? So don't forget to ask about how much your card will be charged if you use it abroad. Or better yet, get a prepaid travel card.

Mistake #7 - Accumulating Roaming Fees

orange extra small cube

Roaming fees are like the ninjas of your phone bill, they attack your wallet without you even knowing. These are quite common when you're using your data, like checking your email, overseas. You'll just be surprised when you get home from your trip and your phone bill will just take your breath away, in a pocket-emptying way.

Do This: If you don't want to get stuck with a $10,000 phone bill, get your phone unlocked and purchase a prepaid sim at the country you're visiting. To know more tips about how to prep your phone for travel abroad, check out this site.

Mistake #8 - Spending Over Your Budget

Money and bank passbook for paying bills

It's easy to get sidetracked and go overboard when you're having too much fun on your trip. You'll get this sense of wanting to buy all the nice souvenirs and try every food and next thing you know you're way over your budget.

Do This: Consider visiting places that are less "touristy" and more authentic, like trying some safe hole in the wall around the area. Plan your budget and stick to it, but make room for some unexpected expenses that will come your way.

Mistake #9 - Neglecting Travel Insurance

Ground with large spray painted "Caution"

Sadly, travel safety gets lost in the excitement of going on a trip and it can instantly put a damper on your well-planned holiday. Most travelers don't think of travel insurance as important but rather more of an afterthought. But what they don't know is that having a travel insurance safeguards them from travel related emergencies such as unforeseen medical expenses, losing a passport or luggage, and more.

Do This: Travel insurance isn't as expensive as you think it is. It can be quite affordable and you can get a quote according to your trip and budget. Still having second thoughts? Getting a travel insurance is even recommended by The U.S. Department of State. Check out their traveler's checklist here.

Mistake #10 - Being Insensitive About the Local Norms or Culture

Different cultures around the worldWhile you can simply laugh off cultural faux pas as an honest tourist mistake in most countries, it can land you in jail in others. You can enjoy the country you're going to visit even more if you take the time to learn a bit about their culture.

Do This: Do your research and learn some local social etiquette to avoid offending some locals. For example, in Japan, tipping in restaurants is especially frowned upon. Wearing skimpy clothes in Dubai or any other ultra-conservative Middle Eastern countries can be seen as a disrespect of their culture. Check this list of social error travelers make abroad and avoid doing them.

Mistake #11 - Using Public WIFI

public wifi

Falling prey to identity theft while traveling is much more common that you think. The most recent statistics show that 9% of travelers have personally experienced identity theft, while 21% know someone else who has.

Do This: If you plan to use public WIFI often, it might be a good idea to take serious precaution to protect yourself from identity theft and purchase an expressVPN.

Mistake #12 - Keeping All Cash and Credit Cards in One Place

Travel essentials in a small pink cube

**Thanks to Laurie from The Glam Farm House for this photo!

If you're going to keep all your cash and cards in a single purse, you're gonna have a bad time. Chances are, if you happen to lose your wallet or have it stolen, you're going to lose everything at once. That being said, you can always rely on the internet to find a lot of creative and clever ways to keep your cash hidden.

Do This: It's more convenient and advised to do cashless transactions these days due to the recent pandemic. If you happen to carry some cash, stack them in different pockets and bags and just bring enough for what you've planned to spend each day. If you want to know more safety tips and tricks for travel, check out this blog post.

Mistake #13 - Not Packing a Travel Adapter

Chargers and medicines in extra small cubes

Travel adapters are a big deal when you're traveling abroad. It helps you plug your devices into other countries' outlets. Yes, that's right. Each country has their own types of socket. You can check out the different plug & socket types around the world here.

Do This: Pack a travel adapter and include a power strip so others can plug in their device and charge as well.

Mistake #14 - Running Out of Battery

phone running out of battery

Think of all the photos and moments you won't be able to snap because of a dead battery. Or being unable to confirm your reservation because the copy is right there on your phone. Or having nothing to do while standing in line at an attraction. Think of these and all other nightmare-ish moments that might take place should your battery die. Aside from charging your phone before going out, know more clever ways to keep your phone alive the entire trip.

Do This: Take time to read this to know how to extend your phone's life. Or you can always bring a portable power bank and make sure that, too, is full before you go on an adventure.

Mistake #15 - Not Booking in Advance

online booking in advance

Be it for your flight, hotel, or restaurant reservation, booking in advance is something every traveler must swear by. This usually means you get to enjoy cheaper rates and economical fees. Booking months in advance can considerably lessen the prices and may even allow you to avail special offers or discounts. It also saves you time from searching for flights, hotels, or accommodation on the day of your trip.

Do This: Book your flight on Tuesday and Wednesday - the cheapest days to travel according to Avoid booking on Sunday; it's usually the most expensive. For hotel and restaurant reservations, download some apps like or to help you look for the best deals and prices.

Mistake #16 - Not Reading Hotel / Airbnb Reviews

Reading online reviews

Now that you know you're supposed to book in advance, don't forget to read the reviews online before making up your mind. Relying on other people's experiences of the same services you want to get will save you time and utter frustration. Don't get easily fooled by how nice they look on photos. Listen to what other people has to say about them.

Do This: Check how many stars or ratings they're given and take the time to read through the comments. If majority are positive, then it's a yes! If there are more negative comments, then it's an easy pass. Make sure to leave your own review as well to help out other travelers.

Mistake #17 - Not Packing a First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit in an extra small cube

If you're keeping a first aid kit at home to deal with unexpected minor accidents or injuries, why shouldn't you have one when you travel? Emergencies don't only happen at home. They could happen anywhere, anytime! It's always best to be ready.

Do This: Pack a first aid kit specifically dedicated for your travels. Easily replace and refill meds and other items that are already used up for your next trip. If you're not sure what to pack, we'll teach you how to master a DIY first aid kit in 5 simple steps.

Mistake #18 - Trying to See Everything at Once

woman with an extra small cube

Just like all the other things in life, too much of anything is bad for you. That being said, a packed itinerary would only bring you pressure and stress rather than enjoyment. Trying to squeeze in all tourist attractions in in one day might make you feel drained and exhausted at the end of the day. Make sure to keep your schedule flexible and open yourself to unexpected adventures outside your travel plan.   

Do This: Start each day early with your top must sees in the area, then leave the rest for when you still have time. Prioritize the most important sites you want to visit and then work your way through the list. Consider having a "slack" day where you can just relax and do whatever you want without having to follow a timetable.

Mistake #19 - Underestimating the Distance Between Places

directions to different places

Underestimating distances can really mess up your trip. Without careful thought and planning, you'll end up spending hours in trains and days in transit just to get to your destination. That means you'll end up not seeing anything.

Do This: Before turning your plans into action, ask some people about it. You can either talk to some people at the hotel / Airbnb you're staying or talk to some locals around. Make sure to check what the actual travel times for the trains are and how long will it take from your hotel to the train station. Look at connection times as well so you can really evaluate your plan. Don't forget to add in extra time between Point A and Point B. 

Mistake #20 - Packing Your Valuables & Essentials in Checked Luggage

organized luggage using clear cubes

This is your friendly reminder to never, ever pack your valuables and essentials in checked baggage. Bags can get lost, sure, that's nothing new but not to scare you or anything, according to a headline from CNN, hidden cameras showed some airport workers stealing from luggage. And if they don't get lost or stolen, your prized possessions can be damaged while in transit.

Do This: Be smart. Pack all your valuables and essentials in your carryon luggage. Keep them in a safe place so you can have your peace of mind.

Mistake #21 - Mindlessly Booking Flights

passport and ticket

Aside from ticket prices and which days to fly, there are some other things that you need to consider before booking your flight. It's essential to start and end your trip on a good note, or flight for that matter, to fully enjoy your trip!

Do This: As much as possible, book morning flights because they're usually on time and at lower risk of being delayed. Afternoon flights are more prone to delays because they have to arrive from some place. Avoid booking flights that arrive too late at night or at midnight. Tickets might be cheaper but you're gonna have a hard time getting transport to your hotel.

Mistake #22 - Drawing Attention to Yourself

orange extra small cube

You draw attention to yourself by dressing too much like a tourist, by wearing flashy clothing and accessories that crooks can notice miles away, by making it obvious that you're lost and you don't know where you're going. These will make you an easy target for pickpockets to pick on.

Do This: Be sharp. Blend in the crowd by dressing like a local and being mindful of your things and surroundings. Don't be too trusting with random locals or you'll get yourself scammed. Trust your gut feeling because they're right most of the time.

Mistake #23 - Taking Too Many Selfies / Photos

group of girls taking selfies

Don't take this the wrong way, nobody's judging you for taking selfies. But again, like in Mistake #18, too much of anything is bad for you. You'll miss the chance to just be in the moment and enjoy taking in the beautiful sceneries if you can't put your phone down for a second. Besides, having your photo taken with the view about 5-feet away is better than having your face occupy most of the space in the pictures.

Do This: Challenge yourself to limit the number of selfies you take in every destination. Don't even think about bringing a selfie stick. Keep in mind that top destinations are banning selfie sticks for safety and crowd concerns. And there are even landmarks around the world that already banned selfies. Try asking other people to take a photo of you with the view instead.

Mistake #24 - Booking Accommodation Carelessly

Organizing a luggage with starter set cubes

More than the price and persuasive photos on their website, make sure your hotel is strategically situated near the airport, the city center, or the attractions you want to visit. Not checking hotel prices, location, and reviews (refer to Mistake #16) can cause a strain to your trip and your pocket.

Do This: Book your accommodation with a quick access to the hospital, police, airport, and train/bus station. Don't settle for a hotel in the middle of nowhere just because of the suspiciously cheap price.

Mistake #25 - Allowing These Mistakes to Ruin Your Trip

Two ladies and an orange large cube

Your reaction towards any of these mistakes that you might commit while on your trip matters. Are you going to sit and mope around all day? Or are you going to find the best way to deal with it and get over it? Don't get indignant when these mistakes happen. There's always a chance to do better next time.

Do This: Avoid making the same mistakes by learning from them. Besides, we couldn't have possibly come up with this list if it were not for those brave travelers who were not afraid of a few missteps.

We hope these tips have somehow given you the idea of what to do and what not to do for your next trip. Don't say we didn't warn you!

If you're guilty of any of these travel mistakes, don’t forget to checkout our post on The Best Travel Tips: 100 Ways to Travel Smart (er)!

Common Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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