girl sitting on a luggage

Biggest Travelling Mistakes I Made

Have you ever forgotten your passport…while you’re on the way to the airport? Travelling is fun and being able to visit other countries is an eye-opening luxury. However, there are also many things to prepare (which is a first-world problem but a problem nonetheless)!
Here are some of the biggest travelling mistakes I have made and I would like to share them with all of you so you don’t risk repeating them and waste your time and money.

1. Not filling in full names

With some airline companies, they require you to fill in your names at the very beginning of the purchase. I assumed it was for the purchasing reference, without realizing that the name I have entered would also be the one reflected on the tickets. The biggest mistake I made was inserting the first and last names ONLY, and not the full name according to our identity cards.
What happened then?
laptop camera world map passport flatlay
For some reason, I just totally forgot that my parents’ ‘preferred’ names weren’t their actual names, because they gave themselves English names that weren’t actually in their passports (a silly mistake, I know!). The consequence?
Having to pay a fee to change the names – and it was a very expensive mistake (sigh pie) – this is because the airline company would assume you are giving your ticket to another passenger instead. Even if you are in a rush to buy the tickets, always remember to enter full names. If your friends or family are helping you buy the tickets in advance, remind them of your actual names too!

2. Not asking if the Airbnb has stairs

We ended up having to drag 20kg bags up three flights of stairs (which was very difficult while travelling with my old folks). On a recent trip to Germany, I also tripped down the stairs and twisted my ankle and had to limp around in crutches for the next few days. You might think that a few flights of stairs would be easy to conquer, but do ask yourself if you want to hike up multiple flights of stairs after a whole day of travelling and exploring.
Not only stairs, if you have any other requirements when it comes to your living areas – such as handicap access, allergies, water boiler do make sure to ask the Airbnb hosts before booking the space. Putting in an extra minute or two to ask could save you a lot of trouble when you are travelling.

3. Not having enough cash in the bank

This one is dependent on where you’re travelling to, however, some countries are now trying to be cash-free. From online bookings of tours to buying toilet paper at a grocery market, some transactions nowadays are easier conducted online or via cards, such as Stockholm or Amsterdam. Wherever you’re going, make sure to double-check the fees for your credit card/debit cards by your local providers to see if there are additional charges for overseas transactions.
swipe card
Also, make sure there is enough money on the card. Another bright side about using your cards is if they get stolen or if you lose them, you can also easily freeze your accounts with the features on the app. Whereas if you lose or drop cash, or get robbed, it’s all gone! 

4. Not double-checking if my liquids are over 100ml 

For all international flights and most domestic flights, you can only bring a limited number of products with liquid in your cabin bags (if you are checking in, whatever amount is fine). All bottled products also have to be less than 100ml.
I once had to throw away a new and beautiful and expensive bottle of moisturizer because I forgot and was in a rush. Not only do you have to throw away your products, but you also end up getting held back while the security guards check your entire cabin bag repeatedly.

5. Assuming our luggage fits the airline’s baggage allowance

Some companies are stingier with their baggage allowances than others, for example, you are usually allowed to bring one cabin bag (less than 7kg) as well as one carry-on (e.g. handbag or small backpack) with you on the flight. However, some budget airlines only allow one carry-on – so it is either a cabin bag or a handbag – not both.
Forgetting to measure our bags, assuming it would fit or assuming we are given two bag allowances can become a very expensive mistake. This is because you would then be required to pay for the ‘extra’ bags.

6. Not preparing for delays

You never know what can happen – last year, Gatwick airport (London) had to shut down all its services because a mysterious drone was flying too close to their runways, hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed and thousands of passengers were stuck in various airports (my boyfriend had to spend the night on the airport floor). Other times, the weather just makes everything difficult. Although each airline company tries its best to be punctual, some conditions are beyond their control.
airport scene
Most airports now are equipped with charging booths and massage chairs, but if you’re in for a long haul, bring a book, charge your power banks and carry a neck pillow along! Better still, some service providers also offer cancellation plans that will provide you with a full refund if you decide to cancel your flights. Especially with the novel coronavirus still being a crisis, it is better to be safe with your travel plans.

7. Assuming you would be able to handle the weather

“It’s just 16 degrees, of course, I can survive with a thin windbreaker”, I thought to myself; I was very wrong. I learnt that it is better to over-prepare and over-pack than to “wing” it and assume I would be able to survive. Also, from personal experience, wearing mesh shoes in the snow is a VERY BAD idea – my toes were so so so cold. People on Instagram wearing a thin layer of jacket posing in the snow is an absolute lie. When it is cold, you would need to layer up and wrap yourself up like a bao to keep yourself warm.
In hotter climates, remember to hydrate and bring along some aloe vera gel or sunblock. You would think that planning and preparing for the weather might be inconvenient or “too much effort”, but you will regret it if your skin starts to peel and burn in the next few days, or if your tiny toes freeze to death.

8. Not bringing earphones

girl in earphones
Don’t be one of those people who play videos out loud in public spaces and disrupt the peace, please. Also, download your shows, movies or songs because, with low-budget airlines that don’t come with a TV and free movies, you do not have much to entertain yourself with. If you would be jumping into calls while travelling, it is also a lot easier to hear and converse when you have your earphones.

9. Not reviewing eateries

For some reason, we assume all restaurants are tasty when we are abroad. The results? We waste a lot of money eating pretty ‘meh’ food. A quick search on Trip Advisor can offer you multiple options of various cuisines, you just have to make reservations for good restaurants for relatively cheap prices.
Life is too short to eat ‘meh’ food. While you are already researching, it would do you good to also briefly look through the travelling sites you want to visit. I have been to many places which I did not enjoy because of the lack of research.
two guys cooking

10. Being Too Thrifty

Travelling can get pretty expensive, but constantly being anxious about how much you are spending will also ruin your experience. Before you travel, you should allocate an amount you would want to spend and budget accordingly, and save up for it! Then you would be able to truly enjoy and relax.
Last piece of advice? Save up for your travel plans, don’t over-swipe on your credit card and end up in debt. Enjoy your life, but also enjoy it responsibly – the future you would appreciate it. Now that you are aware of these mistakes, go ahead and book your next flight out (and make sure to include your full name)!

Change Management Consultant by day, writer by other parts of the day - because at night I sleep. Being funny is my self-proclaimed strength and I enjoy talking about politics, social issues and faith.

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