Rookie Travel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

List Rules
Travel veterans: vote up the tips and tricks newbies should learn before embarking on their first big voyage.
There's no shame in admitting your rookie status when it comes to travel; those who fail to embrace that which they do not know end up with absurd foreign charges on their credit cards, fried electronics, and bags so full of crap you wouldn't wish them on even the heftiest valet. This list of rookie travel mistakes to be aware of (and how to avoid them) will have you jetsetting like a pro. It's all about preparing for the unknown or unexpected - in foreign lands, a little cash in the sock can go a long way. And remember: you're the visitor. No need to get upset if stuff goes wrong just because you're not in Kansas anymore.

  • 1
    12 VOTES

    Forgetting to Print Your Tickets

    Forgetting to Print Your Tickets
    Photo: Bev Sykes / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Yeah, yeah. You can pull them up on your phone. But what happens when your screen gets cracked or your battery dies? Travel introduces all sorts of unforeseen obstacles - printing hard copies of your tickets is an easy way to eliminate one more variable from the equation.

    BEST BET: Print them when you buy them. Put them in your suitcase. That way, even if you forget, you didn't forget.

    PRO TIP: While traveling, clip your tickets to your passport. If you lose your passport, you ain't going anywhere anyway.
    12 votes
  • 2
    33 VOTES

    Overpacking/Exceeding the Airline's Weight Limit

    Overpacking/Exceeding the Airline's Weight Limit
    Photo: Ippei Ogiwara / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    First of all, if you can't carry it yourself, don't pack it. Whatever you manage to stuff in your suitcase is going to be your responsibility for the duration of your trip and there may or may not always be a place to store it (and nobody wants to smell your dirty shoes as you try and navigate through tight spaces with the contents of a small Gap store strapped to your back).

    This is less an issue if you're staying at the Disney World resort for the weekend than say, taking a river cruise on the Mekong, but it's still important to know what you can carry and how much the airline will charge you to bring it along.

    BEST BET: Pack the essentials and grab anything you may have forgotten on the fly. Worst case scenario you end up with a souvenir sweatshirt at the end of your trip.

    PRO TIP: Don't exceed the max weight limit allowed by your airline for checked baggage. That can result in $100 extra EACH WAY and the truth is you don't NEED a liter of shampoo for your six-day cruise.
    33 votes
  • 3
    32 VOTES

    Buying Foreign Currency at the Airport

    Buying Foreign Currency at the Airport
    Photo: Images Money / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    By bus, train, or taxi, you're going to need at least a ride's worth of cash to get out of the airport in many cities (unless you've got a really low cut shirt and a dwindling cache of moral sensibility, in which case bargain away). In countries where the local currency isn't worth as much as say, the US dollar or the British pound, cabbies will take your home currency, but they're not doing it out of the kindness of their hearts (read: it comes with a fee). Just know that, despite whatever bargain rate or free exchange service the kiosks at the airport are advertising, you're not getting the best deal.

    BEST BET: Either order currency from your bank before you go or hit up a local bank once you're closer to your final destination.

    PRO TIP: Don't order too much cash to begin with because if you don't spend it all, your bank is going to take a nice little cut when you get back and try to exchange it for your home currency. And in case it's been awhile since you've traveled and you're thinking they're still a thing, no, traveler's checks are not the answer.
    32 votes
  • 4
    19 VOTES

    Not Checking the Weather of the Place You're Visiting

    Not Checking the Weather of the Place You're Visiting
    Photo: Mister G.C. / Foter

    Guess what: once a year it rains in Southern California. Being caught without the proper apparel on that lone day in April is forgivable, but think twice about traveling to other parts of the world without checking what season you're in for (as it may or may not match with your home location). A duffel's worth of tank tops isn't gonna do squat for you during monsoon season.

    BEST BET: A collapsible poncho is worth shoving one fewer pair of socks in your bag.

    PRO TIP: Always have at least the base layers of the most extreme weather you could encounter (hot and cold).
    19 votes
  • 5
    28 VOTES

    Leaving Your Power Converter at Home

    Leaving Your Power Converter at Home
    Photo: 20th Century Fox

    This is just the worst, period. Imagine arriving at an international airport with a dead phone or laptop and having no idea where you're going. True, there are many airports that now have stations to plug in via USB connection, but once you get to your lodging, you're going to want one of these without the hassle of finding a store that sells them for any amount less than your first-born child.

    BEST BET: Invest in a universal charger and keep it with your travel gear.

    PRO TIP: Get one with USB connectors so you can charge more than one device at a time.
    28 votes
  • 6
    16 VOTES

    Looking Too Much Like a Tourist

    Looking Too Much Like a Tourist
    Photo: United Artists

    Slathered in SPF 90, gaudy shirt, fanny pack, paper map? You're a pickpocket's dream. Even in countries without high incidence of wallet-lifting, dressing too much like a tourist marks you as an annoying and out of touch goofball. Tone it down. After all, you're a traveler - getting lost and sunburned is half the fun, right?

    BEST BET: Dress as you normally would, use your inside voice, and be polite to the locals. In poorer areas, maybe leave the fancy wristwatch at home. 

    PRO TIP: Download an offline version of the area's map from Google. That way, even if you're lost and have no service, you can pretend to text while reorienting yourself.
    16 votes