As a long time travel blogger there’s an expectation that I travel like some sort of magical unicorn. Adventures, upon adventures with glitter, happiness and joy. Not a worry in the world. Now whilst I do wish oh so much that I was a happily travelling unicorn, being a travel blogger does not exclude me from making some mistakes. Colossal mistakes, teeny tiny mistakes and general travel woes. Some of these travel failures have cost me quite a lot, not just in time but in money.
So rather than do some magically positive and upbeat wrap up of the last 18months in lockdown, this year I’m sharing with you my 3 most common travel failures.
Common Travel Fails & How to Avoid Them
We all have baggage.
Except that time we didn’t. Imagine the joy that I had in sneakily booking James and my very first trip to New Zealand. An offer too good to let fly by with Jetstar Australia. Buy one airfare and get one free. As someone who was working a bar job, studying full time and didn’t have much money it was the bargain of the year. Back in the days before Wi-Fi, I was on my little pre-paid dongle and I quickly snapped up those flights and booked 20kg of baggage to share.
Fast forward a few months later and it’s time to check in and a little bird (hint it was James) notices that we do not have baggage booked both ways and overly excited for a travel bargain me has only booked our checked baggage for the way home. Back in the day low cost carriers were about as helpful as a rock in your sock. Customer service was non-existent. The fees to add baggage was more than our entire airfares combined. So we did what many a budget traveller has done before. We packed our weeks worth of clothing into teeny tiny carry on bags, wore a lot of clothes on the flight and then spent a significant amount of money on new adventure clothing and a bag to carry it home in.
How to Avoid Excess Baggage Charges at the Airport
Prepay! If you purchase baggage when booking your flights it’s a LOT cheaper. Like a lot lot. Even if you decide later before you check in, this is cheaper than buying extra baggage online at check-in or worse at the airport.
Sorry, which airport is that?
This is another huge mistake that so many of us so called experienced travellers have made. Booking a superbly cheap and irresistible airfare. In an exotic destination. Let me tell you my friends there’s a damn fine reason that it is cheap. That airport might not necessarily be bright, shiny or even easy to get to.
There was that one time I almost missed a flight from London to Copenhagen as I hadn’t realised that there is no train from London to Stansted airport. Instead a bus – that needs to be pre-booked and you can’t use your Oyster card to pay for. Anxious me had gone to find the bus stop and read the little sign that gave me all this information. Actually London has stung me a few times with the city’s cheap airfares and odd airports.
Take my advice and make sure that the airport you are flying into has the things you need – like public transport.
How to avoid booking the wrong airport.
Research, research and research! It’s the only way. Pop on the airports website and see what transport options there are. Do a quick GoogleMaps and see how far out that airport is to the area that you want to go to! Sometimes the cheap airfare can cost you a lot more in transport options – like a taxi!
Loosing All Your Hard Earned Money
The 2 most common examples of people loosing money when travelling is from theft and currency exchange & ATM fees. These extra costs can really add up over time.
Now I have a tendency to have and travel with several different cards, from different banks. I also travel with a stash of US dollars in case of emergency. When I start saying these things out aloud I feel like I’m turning into a grey nomad but in all my years of travel only once on my very first trip to Japan as a 16yo have I not been able to access my money. Back then travellers cheques were still a thing slowly being phased out and international cards for travel were not common. Over the past 12 years of travel I’ve helped out quite a few people when they have run out of local currency and their particular cards don’t work in foreign ATMs
Sadly travellers do report that being pick pocketed in a common happening. Travel insurance when travelling is a must. Some companies will cover lose of cash up to $200ish. It’s always best to check your policy before you leave the country.
Common Money Mistakes to Avoid
- Paying a currency transfer fee at an ATM – This can cost you big! The bank you are pulling money out of wants to make money from you and won’t give you the best rate.
- Having all your money and cards in one place – then loosing it all. It’s best to stash emergency money in a good hidden place and a spare credit/debit card.
- When out and about keep your cash and cards in separate places/pockets. So if you do get pickpocketed the thieves won’t get both!
- Using a bank issued travel card. These give you terrible exchange rates, charge ATM fees for withdrawing your money and can take up to 4 days to process fund transferred onto the card.
How to Save Money When Travelling
My preferred travel card is Wise (previously TransferWise). It’s an easy way to store multiple currencies and is cheap as chips too. If you run out of one currency the system will automatically convert into the local currency where you are at the best market rate. Not to mention that it is exceptionally easy and efficient to transfer funds into your Wise account. Unlike a conventional bank issued travel card Wise will allow you to automatically deposit funds in. So you don’t have to worry about running out of money when travelling.
These life fails are really basic, which makes them all the more painful when we make them. We all know that we should do better and be better adults but meh, that’s not how life works! Some days we win, and some days we loose. Best to pick yourself up, brush away the embarassment and keep on travelling!
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Coffee Lover | Travel Blogger | Horse Rider | Adventure Racer | Donut Dame.
Generally nice lady-enjoys wine, indie movies & random dance parties in my tent.