Beginner travelers have a lot to learn. Sometimes, the learning is expedited by going through real life moments. Other times the learning comes from watching the mistakes of others. Either way, some mistakes are weighted more heavily than others. It is important to go through life, try things and see what the outcome will be. But there are other times when that mistake could be costly. With my 10 plus years of travel experience, here are the top rookie mistakes that I see travelers make when first starting out.
1. THROWING AWAY BAG RECEIPTS
You see that little sticker that always gets attached to your boarding pass? That little guy is a very important piece of documentation. I never realized until the first time when my luggage did not arrive to my final destination. When I went to go file a claim, baggage services asked me for my tracking number. I couldn’t provide this information because I no longer had it. I could have possibly had it taken away from me accidently when the gate agent ripped my ticket before boarding. The details are fuzzy but it has a hassle trying to track down my bag without it. Luckily, the story ends well!
2. NOT USING CREDIT CARDS
Credit cards are actually a very important piece to traveling. I underestimated the value of a good travel credit card. I came to realize how helpful having a good credit card when yet another one of my luggage did not arrive to my final destination. My luggage was missing for 3 days but because of my travel credit card, it was covered up to a certain amount to buy clothing and essential items. This is because travel credit cards always come with travel insurance to cover you during unfortunate times. They cover you have partially for car rentals, loss/delay of luggage, damage to camera gear and more. But coverage only happens if you use that credit card to purchase at least one thing that is associated with your trip. It could be the purchase of flight, an airline seat or even baggage. Even if it’s not your preferred card of choice, just use it once to insurance you have some coverage. Then you can switch over to your preferred card the rest of the time.
3. NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF STOPOVERS
Who doesn’t like getting maximum bang for their buck? Did you know that several airlines offer a free stopover enroute to your final destination. This means that you can choose to visit a new city for several days before actually arriving to where you’d like to be. The best part is that all of this can be done at no additional charge (except of course for your living arrangements)! But if you do the math, it may very well be worth stopping over and staying a few nights. This could be especially true if flights to the stopover destination tend to be expensive on its own. So it would only make sense to spend the time there if you haven’t visited before.
4. NOT BUILDING LOYALTY
Sticking to a few main sites to do your bookings for hotels, flights and cars can bode well for you in the future. If those sites have reward programs, then eventually you’ll be rewarded in free stays or a discounted rate. If you’re already spending money with a company, then why not go for one that offers a little bit of a kickback? Building loyalty pays off when you least expect it. In a few years time, it could help you take that dream trip that you've always wanted. Not building loyalty keeps you stuck in the same place that you are in right now.
5. NOT KNOWING BAG LIMITS
I was always under the impression that you were only allowed two bags on a flight (yes I know you can pay for others). A lot of us know about the cabin and checked luggage. But did you know about the personal bag? This third bag situation came in so clutch for me many times! Any time I was overweight with my checked luggage, I would take a few items out and put them in a bag that I packed inside my checked luggage. This was simply for overweigh situations. I would then claim that smaller bag as my personal bag while still maintaining my cabin luggage. This is extremely helpful when you’re ride has just departed the airport and you have no one to give your overages to!
I hope these pointers can help you think outside of the box and come up more ideas about travel to help you travel worry free and in comfort. If you’ve been doing these things already, then that’s great! I hope it serves as a reminder for you anyway!