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Travel Mistake Tips

I normally don't pay attention to travel articles from unknown online publications that propose to help you travel better. They're usually written by a 12 year old with a backpack and full of errors. But this one actually had good suggestions--many of which we give here. I wonder what many of you think? Do you agree or disagree?

7 Travel Mistakes

Posted by
11561 posts

Definitely sane and sensible advice. I see so many new posters here that are already making some of those mistakes in their planning and leaving themselves open to others after they land.

Posted by
514 posts

I agree with both of you, the article is to the point and realistic. Probably the key points I have found over the last 10 years of travel is 1) Build in buffers so if things don't go according to schedule your not all upset, 2) When plans have to change due to weather, politics, money, etc. I just go with the flow (my daughter calls it "going bohemian"), I have two very dear friends that I could never take to Europe with me because if everything doesn't go exactly as planned they will have a meltdown and the entire trip would be effected from that point on. I have found that the advice and recommendations on this forum to have helped me the most in planning and enjoying a trip!

Posted by
2507 posts

While I agree in sum with the advice, surely others have different opinions. The one point in particular is not feeling obligated to see attractions that may not be all that great or a good value. Sometimes, alternatives provide memorable experiences. I try to spend my travel money wisely.

Posted by
1352 posts

Even for the well traveled, there's always good reminders (because, sometimes we still try to see/do it all). The New York times had a recent article focused on first time overseas travelers. This thread could be a good quick link for our new travel friends who ask advice on topics covered by these articles.

Posted by
3366 posts

Finally a newsfeed travel article with good advice instead of product pimping. I agree that this basically summarizes much of the advice that is given here on this forum daily. If Rick ever rewrites the ETBD guide it needs to summarize things this succinctly. It also sounds similar to that recently discussed Seth Kugel book.

I think this advice hits the sweet spot for a lot of travelers, but there are people for whom this kind of advice will never make sense, or who prefer to travel in a more cushioned and pampered way.

Posted by
1996 posts

I saw a post on facebook that purported to name the top 20 travel sites that were highly overrated. I went through all 20 and found 10-12 sites that were among my favorites, like The Great Wall of China. It was written by a person overly concerned by crowds.

Yes, crowds can be a pain, but who do so many people want to see The Great Wall of China, the Sistine Chapel or the Statute of David in Florence? It is because they are awesome. It is well worth fighting the crowds.

Posted by
295 posts

Thanks for sharing the article Frank. I agree that the article has practical suggestions. I especially agree with the time buffering. I travel frequently from SFO (which usually has delays) and planning for those delays has helped to avoid missed connections more than longer wait times in the airport.

Over the years of traveling, also learned more about the value of flexibility in plans, allowing the opportunity to take advantage of a local festival, an art exhibit, or event. Seeing the big sites is only part of the travel experience.

The one item I have mixed feelings about is travel insurance. More recently, I have purchased primarily to cover medical emergencies or when I am traveling with a group.

Love the rest of the comments and feedback from this post. Thanks everyone.

Sandy

Posted by
7728 posts

That is a good piece. Thanks for sharing. I would not normally have read that as, like you, I find many of those “XX things” articles to be neophyte. This is solid advice for any traveler. The advice about sleep and food is especially important as so many people worry about their budget to the point they miss the cultural importance of cuisine. It does not have to be expensive to be authentic, but one must eat more than panini and pizza to experience Italy, more than fish and chips in the U.K. I gave up sleeping on trains to save money when I was 19.

Posted by
4754 posts

I don't think travel insurance is a once-size-fits-all generalizable product that should be recommended for everyone - the article certainly didn't make a good case for it, or even tried to differentiate the different insurance products and what they're supposed to insure against. It's a personal decision based on risk factors relevant to each individual, including their degree of risk aversion and financial ability to cover whatever loss is at stake. Insurance in general is highly misunderstood (no one reads the fine print) so most of the time people aren't aware when they've overinsured for some "relatively" inexpensive unlikely event or severely underinsured for something that they really can't cover (and finding out about the coverage gaps when it's too late).

Posted by
2507 posts

For review, I am confirming the exact travel coverage described in "Your Guide to Protection Benefits" through the Costco/Citi credit card.

Posted by
365 posts

The one "mistake" that I would disagree with is #3, the one about travel insurance. Before you get insurance, you should compare the premium to the amount you would lose without it. If the premium is, say, 10% of your expenses, then you should ask whether the probability of needing it is as high as 10%. If you think the probability of loss is higher than that, then the insurance is a good idea. If it is less, then it's a question of balancing your feelings about risk against the cost. I've never felt it was worthwhile. I accept the risk that involves.

Posted by
791 posts

For travel insurance, I have never used it, and have traveled enough that the money I have saved by not buying it will easily pay for any future travel interruptions.

Posted by
20161 posts

The only problem I see in the article is that all the points are twitter length.

Are we, and new travellers, so superficial that they can't read a whole paragraph without getting bored?

Posted by
1812 posts

I love the title of this thread.... My first thought was “I don’t need any tips on how to make mistakes.”

Posted by
669 posts

Despite the brevity of the suggestions, I believe most were valid. I particularly appreciated the emphasis on the need to do research, expect the unexpected, let go of "shoulds," and get out of your comfort zone. One area that I felt was lacking was medical travel insurance. This reminded me of a local story a number of years ago. A nurse colleague's son was in a Study Abroad Program and had a severe traumatic injury. He was hospitalized for several months. When he was stable to come home he required a medical evacuation transport. Unfortunately he did not have a medical transportation policy. It ended up that his parents paid thousands out of pocket.

Posted by
7728 posts

The only reasons we buy travel insurance are

  • Medical evacuation in the event of a serious injury or illness
  • Lost luggage coverage
  • Coverage for excessive delays
  • Coverage for trip interruption, I.e., if the planes stop flying because an Icelandic volcano erupts as it did in 2011.

We do not buy it to cover sunk costs like the airfare, pre-paid lodging, or in the event we have to cancel before we depart due to a death or illness. I a, more worried about $100,000 evacuation costs than losing $5K in pre paids.

Posted by
10188 posts

Basically, the article on the 7 "mistake tips" is aimed at new travelers, solo or in small groups, or those unsure of traveling as it pertains to Europe.

Re: scrimping.... I don't skimp on sleeping anyway. If I do, then it's just for one night, certainly not two to three consecutive nights. Even if on one night I get only 4 hours of sleep, I'll make it up presumably on the train ride the next day, no problem sleeping on long train rides, or that night. I have scrimped on food, say lunch, but not on sleep.

On feeling "not obligated" to see certain sights, I don't anyway. If I go to Paris or London, it's because I want to, certainly not out of sense of obligation, this applies to Poland, Germany, France, and so on, be they "tourist" frequented places, or the ever increasing numbers of non- US and international tourist towns/cities, ie places where foreign visitors are non-existent or hardly seen.

Re: travel insurance,...bought travel insurance only once. That was in the 21st century, never bought it for the ten trips in the 1970s, '80s, and 1990s. I don't buy it now.

On "travel cushion" time...I don't like cutting it close anyway, too conservative in that regard, especially as it pertains to train connections. I check for the frequency of the connecting train, on which track, calculated distance to make it given the crowds doing likewise, if it's regional train or not,

Posted by
1733 posts

Good article--I am always up for reminders even though I do/don't do most of the tips already. Working on the comfort zone one, have the go with the flow and have plans A, B and C just in case nailed down.

Posted by
2769 posts

Check the illustrations. Apparently all these tips were researched by attractive female models. So who paid?

Posted by
7131 posts

Check the illustrations. Apparently all these tips were researched by attractive female models. So who paid?

Those are stock photos that can be purchased from a stock photo company. In this case "Shutterstock.". (Look at the photo credits) I doubt they paid more than a few cents for each.

Posted by
1886 posts

More info should have been included in the advice about travel insurance. Those who want to buy it need to do research to find out if the insurance companies in fact DO pay out on claims made. Reviews from people who buy travel insurance but never need it are as useful as walking with paper bags on a rainy day.

I would also add this tip: Don't over plan unless the sole purpose of the trip is merely to check off items on a bucket list.

Posted by
5035 posts

More info should have been included in the advice about travel insurance.

I'm assuming that the author was limited by number of words or inches of space for the article and therefore had to keep the tips short and sweet. The info she did give was at least enough to make new travelers think about her advice and do further research if interested.

Posted by
64 posts

Great to see down-to-earth travel tips presented so succinctly. A very useful article, well-worth keeping. But the need to have adequate, appropriate medical insurance should always be a main priority (see 'building your house out of straw'). My mom's friend who had brain cancer, once went to South America without any medical insurance. Dumb-all-over. That person could've caused financial disaster for their children (and grandchildren) had they ever been hospitalized at length.
I am done. The end.

'We are young
wandering the face of the earth.
Wondering what our dreams might be worth.
Learning that we're only immortal
for a limited time
.'

Posted by
64 posts

A related book. Folks may want to check out the new 'Lonely Planet's Best Ever Travel Tips'. Author Tom Hall wrote this pocket-sized and affordable book. It is succinct, with a useful variety of topics covered with economy by Hall plus a range of contributing specialists. Curious omissions: was surprised that the 'useful websites list' did not include forums such as Rick Steves here nor their own Thorn Tree. And perhaps the 'common scams' section would've benefited from noting in which country each ploy is most likely to be encountered. Good to see RometoRio plus Accuweather lauded as the worthy websites that they both are but maybe next time also include Oanda for currency conversion and also that train/rail site ('The Man in Seat 61' or whatever it is called).
And c'mon man copy editors--pg 126-7 has the same walking tours advice repeated twice verbatim! (long groan)
I am done. The end.

Posted by
521 posts

I disagree on travel insurance but understand that others may have different risk tolerance attitudes, so each person should do what's best for them.

I wouldn't place too much credence on that website, though. The preceding article to the one you've noted is entitled: 6 Crystals To Travel With In 2019 For Protection & Stress Relief, and they didn't even include halite, which we all know makes food taste better. Imagine! What an oversight!

Posted by
64 posts

Carol, LOL too! I also wondered about that curious title. Betcha' that most of us here could write entire books about the various travel mistakes that we've committed.
I am done. The end.

Posted by
2769 posts

I too was disconcerted by the adjacent plugs for magic travel crystals. The only crystal holding any power over me is a diamond, which I certainly would leave locked up at home. Oh, and salt, provided by dining establishments everywhere.
The insurance suggestion does need some refinement. Health insurance for travel and trip insurance are separate issues. Both can be vital and I suggest researching independent sources rather than just clicking an airline box.

Posted by
1712 posts

I think the decision regarding travel insurance depends on the particular trip or travel style. I typically do not buy travel insurance. My health insurance does cover me when I'm in Europe. I usually reserve at inns that can be cancelled if necessary. If travel insurance was less expensive or if my particular situation was more tenuous, I think I'd purchase more often. We did purchase travel insurance when we booked a river cruise because it was pricier than our typical vacations and I wasn't very confident that the cruise company would be helpful in the event of a necessary cancellation.

Posted by
2503 posts

I have to chime in on the insurance question. Since we mostly do independent travel, I never bought insurance until my daughter, who was working in the field of education abroad, alerted me to what the really serious health-related risk is; i.e., medical evacuation. Even young, healthy, and fit people can have accidents. If you trip and break your ankle, the cost of a last-minute business class (so you can keep your foot elevated) seat could be ruinous, not to mention what more serious situations would require. She (my daughter) had many tales of students needing post-surgery travel home, sometimes with medical attendants and costs to $50,000.
The oft-repeated mantra, “I’ve never bought travel insurance, and I’ve never needed it,* betrays a lack of understanding of insurance. It is meant to protect against rare, but potentially devastating costs. My analogy is home owners’ fire insurance. Very few people lose their homes to fires; but, in my opinion, you would be foolish to risk the loss of your most significant asset in order to save the relatively small cost of the premium.
*That is the really bad travel advice.

Posted by
1712 posts

Rosalyn, everyone's situation is different. It is not bad travel advice to review your own insurance and travel plans and make an individual decision. Everyone has different insurance and destinations also vary. My friend fell in Paris and broke her wrist. That was a very cheap place to fall! Care at the hospital didn't amount to anything. People also need to be evacuated out of the Grand Canyon which insurance tends to not cover. I have also had two kids in Europe to study and each time I called our own health insurer to let them know and to talk about possible issues. Also, I worked in health care.

Posted by
64 posts

1) Southam--Look at Me! (I'm from Leamington) That airline box-to-check always seems like a sinister rip-off to me. The box wazzam (was and still is) too convenient for the lazy.
2) As a young traveling teacher, I was always struck by the number of older Ontario teacher colleagues with Visa cards who seemed unaware that they were already doubly-covered insurance-wise, and would purchase what amounted to unnecessary additional coverage from outside providers. Our teachers union plus Visa already had their backs.
3) Years ago, my elderly father received a long-distance call from the young son of one of my wayward cousins. That young person claimed to be then traveling overseas with a car rental and had just suffered a serious traffic accident. Supposedly, the rental was totaled...and you guessed it, he'd not taken out any insurance. Dad didn't fall for it, even if it were true.
I am done. The end.

Posted by
2503 posts

@jules and gregglamarsh:
Of course, everyone should check their own health insurance and cc provided insurance so as not to duplicate coverage. My coverage ( Kaiser Plan) would cover evacuation from the Grand Canyon, by the way. And yes, medical care in Europe is vastly cheaper than in the U.S., and in emergencies may even one may be treated without fees.. However, if you require long convalescence, do you want to be abroad, away from friends and family? It’s the getting home part that can be staggeringly expensive.
Furthermore, Gregglamarsh, as I am sure you know, comparing Canadian and U.S. health insurance is not so much like comparing apples to oranges, as it is like comparing apples to dog food.
Not sure what that scam about a friend or relative needing money for an alleged problem in a foreign country has to do with travel mistakes.

Posted by
1712 posts

My point is, my advice was to review your own insurance. When my son studied abroad, his college had coverage for evacuation should it be necessary. My insurance does as well. Trip insurance would have duplicated what he already had. Also, sometimes purchasing trip insurance can negate some coverage you already had. So, it is NOT bad advice to say that people should review their own situation and make their own decisions. Blanket statements can be inaccurate.

Posted by
10859 posts

I see there being two types of insurance.. Travel insurance.. which covers cancellations and interruptions as well as lost luggage.. and Travel Medical insurance ( which should include repatriation and transport home if needed ) ..

I have never bought Travel Insurance of first type ( I book hotels I can cancel , never prepay etc, so most I would lose is one night for last minute cancellation) .. and the transport we buy ( inter europeon flights and trains are pretty cheap.. and some have cancellation policies )

I would not leave my country for ONE day without extra Travel Medical Insurance.. not, one, day.. Its cheap.. buy it.

Other than that one point I thought the article was spot on..

Posted by
1120 posts

I have never bought travel insurance. HOWEVER, last Jan, my daughter was getting married. My other daughter and her companion were coming. The significant other (SO) is not a well person, and I considered that she might not be able to come. When I bought their tickets, I did get travel insurance. She was not able to come, and so I did get my money back. HOWEVERAGAIN, she had to see a doctor BEFORE the trip, and that was required to satisfy the insurance. It came down to a narrow window of a doctor visit.