5 rookie pre-travel mistakes and how to avoid them

Strangely, most of the biggest travel mistakes actually occur long before you set off on your journey. Which means many of them can ruin or derail your vacay before you’ve even arrived at your destination.

But provided you’re aware of them in the first place, it’s possible to easily avoid them with a bit of advance planning, even if you’re a rookie traveller.

Rocking up with an invalid passport

The rules around passports are incredibly frustrating. But regardless of how unreasonable they might seem, if you don’t comply, you don’t fly. And they catch a ridiculous amount of people out every year, even experienced travellers fall foul of the rules.

Primarily you need to check that your passport is going to be valid for the entire period that you plan to spend abroad. But some countries also require that you will have a minimum of 6 months remaining on the passport after the date you plan on leaving that country.

Most countries also require you to have a certain number of blank pages left in your passport, regardless of how much time it has remaining, and the exact figure varies. Check all of these requirements in advance and make sure your passport is up to scratch well in advance.

Neglecting visa requirements

Particularly if you’re in possession of a powerful passport that allows you entry to a huge number of countries visa-free, it’s easy to get pretty complacent about Visas. But not double checking Visa requirements is one of the quickest ways to ruin your trip before it’s started.

As a rule of thumb, no matter where you’re going, check the visa requirements beforehand. And this includes if you’re stopping off in transit anywhere on your way - you might even need a special visa for that. Check well in advance exactly what’s required to allow yourself time to apply for and obtain it.

Settling for bad exchange rates

How airport exchange booths still even exist, I’ll never know. The rates that they offer are verging on criminal. What you lose can make a huge difference to your overall budget, and for most people it’s actually completely unnecessary to use them. So don’t!

If you’re dead set on having some foreign currency in your pocket before you depart, look online in advance for a good rate. But the best idea is to simply take money out at ATMs as you need it. Get a card that doesn’t charge exchange fees and you’ll receive an accurate rate.

Putting important things in checked baggage

25 million. That’s roughly how many items of baggage airlines manage to lose each year. Pretty staggering. But what’s also incredible is how careless flyers are with their valuable belongings when it comes to packing.

Best practice is to ensure that nothing important goes in the hold. Instead, put items like electricals, jewellery and expensive presents in your carry on. Even more importantly, if you have medicine that you rely on day to day, this should definitely be travelling with you in the cabin for obvious reasons.

Packing contraband in carry on

Current carry on restrictions governing what you can and can’t take into the cabin with you have been around for almost 15 years. But take one look at the contraband bins when you’re going through airport security and you’ll realise that there are plenty of people who still don’t understand, or forget all about them.

You’re only allowed to take a 20cm x 20cm sized bag of liquids on board with you. Aerosols, gels, creams and pastes also come under the banner of liquids and each item must be no bigger than 100 milliliters. Additionally, you’re not allowed any objects with blades longer than 6cm (from tip to axis for scissors). Plan ahead and make sure you put any contraband in your hold luggage.

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