How to Avoid Common Travel Mistakes

Taking a vacation requires lots of planning and preparation. Sometimes, however, the unexpected does happen.  The following list contains the mistakes that I most commonly hear from clients and what you should do to prevent them from happening to you.

1. Don’t wait to check your travel documents.  Many travelers receive documents from their travel agent, or print them online and then file them away until it is time to travel.  This can be risky because even the slightest mistakes can sometimes ruin a vacation.  For example, most airlines make it very clear that the name on your ticket must match the name on your identification EXACTLY.  They also state that once the ticket is purchased, no name changes are allowed.  If caught early, your travel agent can usually correct the situation; however, if you wait until the day that you fly, you are at the airline’s mercy.  I have seen an airline refuse to let a passenger board because there was a mistake in one letter of the name!  Make sure that you check and double-check every reservation that you make immediately.  If you see a problem, report it immediately to your agent or to the company where you booked.

2.  Don’t forget to inspect a rental car.  Before driving off the lot, make a note on your contract of any scratch, dent, etc. that you should find on the car.  Make sure you point out the damage to the car rental agent and ask them to sign under your notations.  It’s also not a bad idea to take a picture of any damage that you see to the vehicle.  It can be a costly mistake to have an agent accuse you of damaging the car!  Make sure you protect yourself.

3.  Don’t assume that you won’t need travel cancellation insurance.  No one likes to purchase insurance, but when needed, they are always thankful that they added a policy to their vacation.  Unexpected situations can arise before you take your vacation, especially if you’ve booked very early.  I have personally seen many people lose the money they paid for their trip because it wasn’t protected by a cancellation policy.  Many beg the cruise line or resort to understand their predicament and give them credit for a future trip, but they almost never do that.  You can make purchasing travel insurance less painful by shopping around and getting quotes on a policy that will work for you.  Many times independent companies that provide travel insurance have much better rates and products than the companies who book your trip offer.  Your travel agent can help find the policy that is right for you.

4.  Don’t stay at a hotel that charges resort fees.  Some resorts have mandatory resort fees that are not included in your initial price.  You will be charged a daily fee that will have to be paid before check out.  Sometimes these fees cover things that you don’t even plan to use, such as, in-room bottled water, phone calls, gym fees, etc.  There are great resorts that don’t charge these fees; give your business to those hotels.  Make sure you always ask before booking if a resort fee will be charged.

5.  Don’t use a credit card that charges a foreign transaction fee.  Basically, this is a fee that covers the cost of exchanging dollars into other currencies.  Each time you use your card while in a foreign country, that fee will be added.  What can you do?  Call your credit card company before you leave home and ask about this fee.  You may be surprised at how many credit card companies charge this foreign transaction fee.  However, there are cards available that don’t.  Don’t hesitate to ask!

Many times we have to make mistakes to learn from them.  Be attentive to all the details of a vacation.  Read your documents thoroughly and ask questions about anything that you don’t understand.  Happy Traveling!

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