Travel experts were asked about their biggest travel mistakes or peeves.
Alisa, travel blogger and Northern California private tour operator www.travelifetime.com
1. The biggest mistake I’ve made when planning a trip is probably booking one hotel for the entire stay, while trying to see an entire country.
Although it’s definitely more convenient not having to move every day, but the amount of driving is exhausting and you stop enjoying what you see.
Recently I visited Spain on a family trip. We decided to cover the entire South of Spain.
We flew to Madrid and drove all the way to Fuengirola, near Malaga. The first day it was a fun drive and we made a few stops on the way. Even though we were all tired from our long flights (I had a 15 hour flight). But then we realized that every destination we wanted to see is a 2-3 hour drive each way.
We had to skip a few places because they were just too far. We would leave every morning early and come back late. We still saw most of what we wanted, but it would’ve been a lot easier if we stayed at our destination each time.
We also didn’t get to experience night life which is a shame.
We drove 5,000 km in 2 weeks! I can only imagined how much more we could see if we didn’t book one hotel for the entire stay.
2. My top travel pet peeves are:
* Currency exchange fees – Lately I’ve been using my credit card more and more, since they are not charging any exchange fees. But I always like to have cash on me. You never know when you”ll see something in a store that is cash only, or a taxi that doesn’t accept cards. It’s pretty rare these days, but I try to always have a few hundred dollars in cash when I travel.
As I don’t want to waste time looking for an exchange place, I switch a small amount of money in the airport. A few days ago I got back from Vancouver. When I arrived I decided to switch $300 US dollars to Canadian dollars. I should’ve received $405 Canadian dollars, but instead I only received $350! That’s insane! They charged me $55 commission!
* People who hate me because of my nationality. Luckily I speak 3 languages fluently, but I hate trying to figure out which language should I speak to be treated better, or even stay safe. Politics aside, I came to see your country and spend my money there. Why would you hate me because of where I’m from? Especially when the political situation doesn’t involve your country at all!
Roni The Travel Guru, www.ronithetravelguru.com
1. My friends and I missed our flight and we were sitting in the boarding area. We were laughing and talking so much and not thinking about anything that we completely missed the flight. We simply weren’t listening nor paying attention. I now work at an airport and I have seen people miss their flights because they weren’t paying attention to the messages that were being blasted over the PA system. Some passengers have on headphones, some are on the phone and some are simply distracted. Since I missed that flight years ago I now never sit in the boarding area while wearing headphones, I try and sit as close to the podium as possible so I won’t miss any announcements and I pay attention!
2. About 14 years ago I was asked to bring a package back from Paris to a friend of mine living in Los Angeles. I put the package in my checked bag and when I got to Los Angeles the item wasn’t in my luggage. Someone had stolen it! You should NEVER check valuables in a suitcase. EVER. I didn’t know it at the time but since then I have never once packed anything of true value in my suitcase. All valuables belong in your carry-on bag with you. Now that I work for an airline I see how easy it is to take things out of someone’s bag so don’t tempt someone to rob you. Keep your valuables with you!
3. I didn’t call my credit card company before I left the country and they denied my card in a store. I had to spend time getting in touch with them to make sure they knew I was the one charging. It was a hassle.
4. I left my backpack open and while I was walking in the train station someone came along and stole my wallet. Thankfully I had my train ticket in my hand so I could get to my destination but I didn’t have any money. I had to ask someone on the train to buy me food because it was an overnight train and I needed to eat!
JB and Renee are the Traveleaters behind Will Fly for Food (http://www.willflyforfood.net/2016/10/22/the-food-lovers-travel-guide-to-hong-kong/), a travel blog for the gastronomically inclined.
Not planning well enough. I used to do very little research before our trips. I thought the cool thing to do would be to just wing it and go with the flow. We’ve missed out on some good experiences because of that, none more evident than in Siem Reap. When we were there a few years ago, my ignorant self thought the term “Angkor Wat” referred to just one temple. As it turns out, it refers to an entire complex of temples, not just one. Luckily, we realized our mistake early so we did wind up visiting many of the most iconic sites like Angkor Wat, Ta Phrom, and Bantaey Srei. But it wasn’t until after our trip that we realized we had completely missed out on the largest one – Angkor Thom and its magnificent temple of giant heads, Bayon Temple. I was kicking myself in the head for weeks after that.
Needless to say, I learned from that mistake and have become quite the planner ever since. Because our blog is food-centric, it’s important for us to find not just the most important attractions, but the best restaurants as well. Every detail of our trips, down to which restaurant we’ll be eating at for lunch on this and that day, is planned beforehand. It can be a lot of work to plan things so thoroughly but I’ve come to enjoy it very much, and I have Angkor Thom to thank for that.
Entitled tourists. I can’t stand travelers who visit a foreign country and not have any regard for that destination’s rules or customs. I see people these days getting naked at holy sites just to take pictures and post them on Instagram. It’s so disrespectful. They forget that they’re like guests in someone else’s home. You wouldn’t want someone else disrespecting you in your home now, would you? Things like that need to stop.
Lauren Hackney from Soulfultravelblog.com
My biggest travel mistake happened a few times towards the end of my six month European [backpacking] trip. I had been moving constantly from place to place and I was was feeling pretty exhausted at this point. You could probably imagine that booking accommodations was getting monotonous and I was getting lazy about it. Not only was I booking hostels the day of but I also made mistakes on my reservations three times in a row! Three times I booked for the wrong month. I had been travelling for so long that I didn’t even know what month it was anymore. Two of the situations allowed for easy damage control which resulted in small fees but the other situations ended in me being out of luck for hostels in the entire city. There was an event going on and EVERYTHING was sold out. It was 8pm and I didn’t have a place to stay. I racked my brain and ended up finding a couchsurfer to host me last minute thankfully! I ended up having an amazing time and getting to see the city solely from a local’s point of view!
This situation taught me about trusting my journey. Before I started travelling I would have been freaking out, but now I know in my heart that everything will always work out. If I put an intention in the universe it will come to me. Although I hope to double check all of my reservations now, this mistake taught me a big lesson and I am grateful for it.
98% of the time I don’t encounter any problems with people in hostels but there are times when people leave or turn the light on late at night. I think it is the rudest thing that people can do and I just cannot understand how they cannot have consideration for others! But, I guess I can’t expect too much when I spend $7/night!
Owner, Got The Travel Bug Too
My husband and I fell for an embarrassing scam while waiting to go inside St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. A man walked up to us and said he was a tour guide looking for more people to join his group to tour the Basilica. He said he could get us to the door quickly and as tired as we were from other sightseeing that day, we agreed.
Little did we know, he took us through the line of very angry tourists – basically walking through and cutting the line when suddenly he jumped out and left us behind! We apologized to those around us and said he scammed us. We very embarrassingly and ashamed went all the way back to the end of the line for an even longer wait than we originally had before we got scammed.
The moral of the story is – just be patient. Wait in that long line and try not to take a shortcut through. If so, you just might avoid an angry mob.
Major tourist attractions that do not allow photography! I understand some museums and other places do not allow photography especially if it’s a place of worship. But I was really disappointed that photography was not allowed at Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia which houses the famous Michelangelo’s “David” statue. I’ve wanted to see that statue for years and finally there it was!
I guess they didn’t want anyone to be distracted by camera flashes while admiring this beautiful artwork – whichever reason, I’m glad I saw it in person but a photo in my Italy trip photo book would’ve been a great way to commemorate my memorable visit to the museum.
Vanessa Gardner, confessionsofanalmost30girl.blog
That’s a tough one, I really feel like when you’re travelling you really need to just go with the flow. [There’s] no right or wrong on how people travel, backpack, drive, bus, they’re all great options you just have to be open and willing to deal with things as they come. We decided to drive in Ireland because we didn’t want to be stuck with a bus schedule. The one thing I would have suggested to do prior to renting a car is to check if your insurance transfers over to different countries. Ireland is one of the countries that you need separate insurance for, so when you get to the car rental agency be prepared to pay even more money for the insurance! it is what it is, don’t get stressed about it, it covers you and the car. and Also get an international drivers permit… if you get pulled over by the Garda… its easier for them to deal with than your actual license.
2) Travel pet peeves?
The only real thing that drives me crazy when travelling is when other people get frustrated or angry because something isn’t the same as when they’re home, for example food coming out that’s cooked differently than you would at home, or if people are laid back at hostels etc and travellers just think they have the right to say or do what they want because theyre paying money to be there, well guess what! if you don’t want things to be different, and experience different cultures and do things the way locals do… then stay home!!! travelling is such a go with the flow mentality, take it as it comes, yes everything isn’t perfect, but if it was, then why would you leave!!
Megan Dunbar, travel blogger and freelance virtual assistant, www.megstays.com
1) Recently, I decided to camp in the Southwest in the summertime. My brother and I have been planning a long-term roadtrip for a while, and I wanted to get in some in-depth exploration of the desert, imagining it’d be hot, but a dry heat. You know, the cliche all Southerners throw around because we’re used to humidity, and dry heat is less brutal. In spite of friends’ side-eyed glances and encouragement to think up a different route, ahead we forged. Boy, was I wrong. It wasn’t until we spent an entire day under a tarp trying to catch some breeze in Death Valley that we realized this trip was headed nowhere, fast. We spent the next two days driving North, ending up in the Rockies and much happier, having learned to trust locals and heat indexes.
2) My pet peeves, especially with travel buddies, are a lack of planning and no sense of urgency. I’m more type-A than many people who enjoy spending time rambling around outdoors, and while aimless wandering and slow camp mornings can be enjoyable, I’m much more accustomed to rounding up my gear and heading out early, whether it’s for a sunrise hike or getting to a crag early. I’ve learned from people who move more slowly, and sometimes traveling that way yields more connection to the land and people. But my efficiency remains a thorn in their side, as their methodical speed is a thorn in mine.
Beth Bauer from www.thejourneyofbethb.com
The two biggest mistakes I’ve made when traveling are not being prepared for extreme weather and not having the right footwear.
Extreme weather can be rain, wind, excessive heat, snow or freezing temperatures. Always research the weather before you pack and if you’re going from one destination to the next, plan for all possibilities. When I was in Chandra Taal, India, which is 14,000 feet up at the top of Rhotang Pass, we camped in 30 degree temperatures. I slept with everything I had in my backup on, which was 3 pairs of clothes, and I still froze my butt off!
There have been a number of times where I only brought sneakers and wished I had water shoes, hiking shoes or something nice to wear out for the evening. It’s always a balancing act, trying to be well prepared but not over pack, especially when back packing. Research the area your visiting and try to bring footwear that can work for different types of activities, like water shoes that might work as sneakers, or nice flip flops that you could wear with a dress.
As for travel pet peeves, out of control children and people that are excessively loud really irritate me. I remember camping high in the a Himalaya Mountains and some people next to us were letting off fireworks until the wee hours of the morning. Seriously? Try to be courteous to others when you travel. We all share this beautiful planet.
Jessie Festa, jessieonajourney.com
One of the biggest travel mistakes I ever made was booking an entire summer of travel plans in advance. It was the first time I’d backpacked Europe, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. What I didn’t realize was how easy it is to meet people along the backpacking journey that will make you want to change your plans, whether because you want to travel with them or because they recommend something awesome you didn’t even know existed. Now when I travel for more than a week, I keep a loose itinerary. It’s typically not a problem to find a hostel, Airbnb or Couchsurfing host just a day or two in advance.
My biggest travel pet peeve is meeting travelers who don’t consider the big picture of their actions. I’m active in the responsible tourism sphere, so it breaks my heart to still see people riding elephants and visiting tiger temples. I once met a traveler in Thailand who preached, “I would never condone riding an elephant. I just want to see one paint!” Really?!
Before going somewhere, take the time to learn about the local customs and etiquette. Additionally, research any tour operators you book to make sure they’re not doing more harm than good in the places they operate. If an experience seems unnatural — such as being able to hug a tiger or watch an elephant create art — than it’s probably not responsible.
Fashion’s On Vacation
The biggest travel mistake I made was riding a scooter in Bali in just a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. I came off the bike, and since I didn’t have anything to protect my legs, I had really bad skin injuries and scars. I rented the scooter just to save a few dollars on the price of a car rental, but in the end it ended up costing me more. Plus I didn’t have insurance! Moral of the story – always travel insured and don’t ride scooters unless you really know what you’re doing – and always wear protective clothing!
One of my biggest pet peeves is bad airplane meals in economy class. Seriously, why do the bread rolls always have to taste like foam? The vegetables are always mushy, the mashed potato tastes fake – it amazes me how in this day and age some airlines still can’t make a decent economy class meal. It’s getting better, and some airlines really excel with food – but some are truly terrible. Another pet peeve is having to pay for Wi-Fi, or having Wi-Fi in the hotel but always having to enter an access code. Just have an open network and let me log in already!
Nadine Cathleen, http://karateandcaviar.com
Well, the travel mistake I can think of now is a bit nasty haha… When I travelled through Latin America I thought it was a good idea to take the bus from Cusco in Peru to La Paz in Bolivia (I thought it’s nice to see landscapes etc..) It wasn’t! There we were, looking forward to 20 hours in a Bolvian bus that didn’t have seatbelts, had a broken toilet with a really nasty smell (I had the seat next to the toilet!) and was going through mountains roads that make me nauseous anyway.
After around two hours I couldn’t keep it in anymore and had to vomit.. and I was not quick enough to grab a plastic bag! Well, I did manage to grab one but just not entirely in time and a little bit of the peep went on my jeans and top… ewww… 18 more hours to go!
Lessons learnt: 1) Check reviews of the bus company, 2) take sth against nausea with you, 3) have a plastic bag handy, 4) have a spare top and trousers in your carry on.. Off you go, have fun 🙂
Lyra Dacio, Hello Saigon (www.hello-saigon.com)
Not really the biggest travel mistake but an inconvenience. We were traveling locally in Vietnam and we thought since we were only going on land travel, that we didn’t need our passports.
We booked through airbnb and when we get to the house, the owner requested for our passports to register with the police. You see, if you’re going to stay anywhere in Vietnam even for just a day, you have to register with the police.
Luckily, we brought our resident cards which the police grudgingly accepted. Good for us coz we didn’t want to have a bad start on our holiday. Lesson learned.
Two things. One, not having a firm itinerary. It’s a waste of time arguing with family where to go and what to do. It’s best to have a clear itinerary when traveling with a group.
Second, having one person in your group unwilling to compromise or try something new or be inconvenienced. Dude, you travel to get out of your comfort zone. Don’t be a party pooper.
George TBB, owner of
1) Biggest mistake
In the late 80’s I got a plane ticket to Greece. Using a travel agent as most did back then. I thought the agent got me a really good deal transiting New York JFK airport from Detroit. As I proceeded to check in for my flight to Athens I was forbidden to board as I was on an “illegal connection”. Apparently there was a limit in the connection time which my ticket violated. The agent should have known about this. That was the last time I used a travel agent, I have been my own agent ever since. The airline (TWA) put me on the flight to Athens the next day as I spent overnight at the airport.
2) Travel Pet Peeves
When you have picked the best seat you can on an airplane only to find out that there was a last minute airline equipment change and your seat is gone and instead assigned a much less desirable one by the airline.
Jenni Sheldon, www.travelrecovery.com
My biggest mistake was when I first started travelling outside Europe and I was involved in a car crash. Luckily I was OK but I didn’t have the correct insurance so if I had need hospital treatment or worse then I wasn’t actually covered. I didn’t realise travel insurance only covered you for a specified amount of days and I was out of the country for more than my policy covered so it was void. I know make sure I have the correct insurance for each trip I do.
My pet peeve is people eating bananas on public transport lol. I have a slight phobia of them and hate the smell and when I am in enclosed spaces the smell makes me queasy – But its my own issue so I have come to deal with it as a banana seems to be the most popular snack on buses and trains.
Toby Richardson, http://abdicateconvention.com/
My biggest travel mistake was when I was travelling to Fiji and forgot to make sure I had 6 months validity left on my Australian passport from the return date, in order to meet the visa free exemption. Fortunately it was crisis averted as I also had my UK passport with me which had another 9 years left on it.
I’m not the biggest fan of planning meticulously but from that I learnt to at least have the basics (insurance, passport validity, visas etc.) sorted well in advance of leaving.
My biggest travel peeve is definitely when travelers spend too much time one social media instead of being social in their actual environment. I just find it incongruent with the whole reason for travelling.
Other than that, I find it pretty cruisy to be travelling so I can’t think of too many genuine annoyances.
Amy West, www.amywesttravel.com
1. The biggest mistake I’ve made is not giving the correct name when booking my ticket. I realized last minute that the name was not as it appeared on my ID and knew it would be a big problem. That was an expensive mistake and today you can be sure I always triple check that it’s correct.
2. One of my biggest pet peeves when I go anywhere domestic with my family (because International is a whole different story), is when the restrooms don’t have a changing table. It’s the worst having to change your infant or toddler on an unsanitary bathroom floor, especially if you have one that likes to crawl and run around.
Anita Hendrieka, anitahendrieka.com
1) My biggest travel mistake would be when I booked a flight at what I thought was lunchtime, but it turned out that it was at midnight and I had missed it! From then on I have always triple checked my a.m.’s with my p.m.’s and made sure I have the right time for my flights. It sure was an expensive mistake!
2) My biggest pet peeve is when people don’t travel with an open mind. Travelling is all about learning new destinations and cultures. The way you do things is totally different from another culture and country so you should never judge.
Not checking the weather before going on a trip and packing all the wrong clothes. Now I always check the weather before I go away especially when I’m going to a few different countries.
At the airport, at the departure gate and other passengers are not listening to the announcement to stay seated until you are called. They all gather at the entrance to the gate and just stand therein the way! We are all going to be seated, just let the airline keep us organised!
Travel Mistakes & Peeves: Expert Interviews
Travel experts were asked about their biggest travel mistakes or peeves.