There are two types of planning mistakes that can be made when preparing a trip overseas – underplanning and overplanning. Do not get on the plane and head overseas with the anticipation of seeing where your explorations will take you. Some research should be done on the area so you know what to expect upon your arrival. On the other hand, overplanning your trip will leave you feeling rushed and stressed out the entire time. Make sure to leave room in your planning for something spontaneous.
You also do not want to only do what is in the guidebook you purchased before leaving. Ask some of the locals at restaurants what they recommend seeing.
You may find it difficult to book a hotel in an area you have never been. Do some research and review hotels in the area you are visiting to avoid booking yourself in a shady hotel. Make your reservations before leaving on vacation and make sure to bring a print out of your room’s confirmation.
While you are booking your hotel, make your car rental plans to ensure you have a car upon your arrival. One of the worst mistakes a traveler can make is not reserving a car in advanced, and then being forced to pay exorbitant fees once there in country.
When traveling you want to make sure you have everything you need with you. However, what you think you need before leaving on vacation is not always what you do need while away. Only pack the essentials, without overpacking. Depending upon how long you will be away, try to limit yourself to just your carry-on or the carry-on and one small checked bag.
You are going to need your passport when traveling to different countries. Double and triple check your bags before leaving to go on vacation and before checking out of your hotel.
If you have not traveled in a while, it is also a good idea to check the validity of your passport. Remember, renewing a passport can take a bit of time, so do it well in advance of your trip. In addition, you will want to ensure that you have all necessary visas for traveling to your specific destinations. Some countries are lenient and do not require a visa, yet others are very strict. Make sure the lack of a visa does not stop your dream vacation at the airport.
If possible, exchange your money before you head out to the airport. Check with your local bank to see how much money you will need and for help exchanging it. If you wait until you arrive at the airport you could be charged high fees just to exchange a few dollars. Also, take time to learn about the currency, such as what each bill is and the value of each one.
While you are at your bank, do not forget to tell them you will be traveling. This just ensures they do not cancel your credit or debit cards while you are overseas because they think they were stolen.
Do not put your blinders on while traveling abroad. One of the best things about traveling to a new country is being able to experience new culture and meet new people. Open your eyes and be willing to try new things. Do not avoid the locals, they can be a great resource when looking for something to do.
When learning something new about the country you are visiting, do not disrespect national symbols, culture or leaders of the country you are visiting. This also includes not talking down to locals and acting like you are better than they are.
Do not allow yourself to become a target while traveling. Leaving your valuables unattended is a sure way to invite trouble; secure your valuables on your person and when in the hotel. In addition, you may want to store emergency money in a money belt that you can wear around your waist.
Related: Five Travel Scams to Avoid
Do not wait until you return home to relive your vacation through your photographs. Put the camera down and really take a look at what is around you.
If you plan to take photos of locals working or going about their day, make sure to ask for permission. Not everyone likes their photo taken by strangers, and in some cultures taking a picture of somebody without their permission is a taboo.
Do not go on vacation overseas with a care-free attitude. This includes getting too comfortable. Pay attention to your surroundings at all times and know your points of contact. Always know where the U.S. Embassy is located, and always have a common meeting point established between your traveling companions in case someone gets separated.
Do not let yourself get too comfortable at your hotel. Some travelers find they are perfectly fine enjoying what the hotel has to offer and never leave to explore the city. Get out of the hotel and see some of the local sights and points of interest.
Traveling as part of a group and taking the different tours offered is nice. However, being able to explore your destination on your own, without being told where to be and when is just as nice too. Those traveling in large groups should keep in mind that many thieves target larger groups, so if possible split up into smaller groups.
It is important to keep mind of your manners when it comes to interrupting the tour guide or talking while they are talking. Questions are usually encouraged but it is important not to distract the guide or other patrons while the tour is going on.
You do not have to be fluent in the local language, but knowing how to say a few basic phrases will help greatly when traveling overseas. Basic phrases to learn include asking for directions, asking for food recommendations and where the hospital is.
Try not to make some of the above listed common and not-so-common mistakes travelers make when visiting other countries. Keep your eyes open,