Imagine hiking for quite a distance just to get to a waterfall you’ve been swooning over since booking your trip. You hear the water rushing in the distance and you know you’re close. You finally get there and it is as magnificent as you thought it would be. You quickly grab your GoPro to shoot some videos and photos up close, only to realize your device is completely dead. Yes, this happened to me recently on a trip to the Dominican Republic.
Travel fails happen. They are part of the experience. From forgetting to charge my GoPro to bringing along the charger for my electric toothbrush but not the actual toothbrush, I’ve experienced it all. Funny thing is that most of it could have been avoided.
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I would love to tell you that I’m an organized traveler and that I carefully pack my luggage days before a trip. Truth is I am disorganized and lazy when it comes to prepping and I usually leave it for the last minute. This of course results in numerous very important items not making it into my suitcase and I often find myself spending money unnecessarily buying stuff I already have two of at home.
Here are 10 tips on how to avoid Epic Travel Fails like these.
Make a list
So, I started making a list every time I’m about to travel. This list includes the outfits I will need based on the activities I’m going to be doing as well as the camera equipment, chargers, toiletries and other items I might need. If making a list seems too much work for you, try a packing app such as PackPoint, which allows you to make your list based on your destination and the activities you have planned, as well as lets you customize the list to your liking, or Packing Pro if you are packing for your entire family.
Charge your Devices
Try to organize your electronic devices two days before. I usually pack mine in my carry-on or backpack as these are the absolute must-have items I need for each trip I make and getting them stolen out of my checked luggage will totally ruin my trip. I make sure to lay out each camera, phone, tablet or laptop on my bed and then proceed to add all the accessories each item requires. Chargers, selfie sticks, memory cards and plug converters to name a few. I then make sure I charge each device fully a day before I travel. Now, I can start documenting my trip the moment I arrive at the airport and I can write a blog post or two on the plane.
Find out the Customs Regulations
Different countries, different customs regulations. The US does not allow fruits and veggies to enter the country. So, make sure you finish that orange you brought on the plane to snack on before you land. Anguilla has a importation tax on imported goods. Everything that still has a price tag on it or seems new in any way will be taxed. So, make sure you remove the tag on that new bikini you bought especially for the trip. Whatever the regulations, make sure you are aware of them prior to your departure. This is especially important for drone owners. Some countries have strict drone laws and regulations. Avoid your drone getting confiscated upon arrival.
Different country, different Currency
Yes, we all know and love the mighty US Dollar but remember that once you step foot outside of the US, you are no longer in US Dollar territory. Do a little research about the currency at your destination and whether the US Dollar is accepted or not. Same goes for credit cards. Many restaurants and shops in the Caribbean do not accept American Express for instance. Another research must, is the exchange rate from USD to whatever currency you will need in your host country. Apps such as Currency comes in very handy. Download this free app and avoid being outsmarted by greedy exchange centers. Extra tip: Avoid exchanging money at the airport.
Directions are important
Getting lost while you travel is great. You get to find out about places you otherwise wouldn’t have known about. But what if your wrong turn takes you to more unsavory places? Make sure you know where you’re going and how to get there before heading out or download an app like HERE we Go, which pinpoints your exact location on a map using your phone’s GPS so that you can see exactly where you’re going at all times.
No memory, huge problem
Another travel fail I personally experienced is a full memory on my phone just as I was about to take a picture of something you only get to experience once in your life. Talk about missed opportunity. Make sure your camera, GoPro or phone have plenty of space to make new memories on. Store your photos and videos in the cloud, or in your Dropbox or on external hard drive before departure, and always carry an extra memory card.
Get to know your host country.
Before you visit that country you are so crazy about, do a little Google search on their customs and traditions. Make sure to find out what is considered rude and what is not. For instance, in the Caribbean islands it is considered very rude not to greet someone before you ask them a question. Make sure you know the do’s and don’ts of your destination before boarding that plane.
Read the reviews before you book
This is especially a must when you are booking a room or a vacation home on Airbnb or any other accommodation rental site. We once booked a lovely home but did not do our research of the area. It was quite the walk to the nearest bus or metro stop and it made getting around very difficult. Check if your accommodation of choice is in a good neighborhood, if there are supermarkets or stores nearby, if it’s in the middle of a noisy area or if public transport stops or stations are close by before you book.
Overpacking is a sin
We women tend to overpack when we’re traveling. How many times didn’t you pack a ridiculous total of outfits and shoes and you ended up wearing just a few for the duration of your trip? Overpacking should be a sin. Why overpack when you know you’re going to be shopping for a souvenir or two or three? Also, why overpack and risk the chance of being charged for the overweight? Take what is absolutely necessary and pack clothing items that you can easily mix and match or accessorize for variation in outfits. You can also use Space Saver Bags. These things are super handy and can help you save half of the suitcase space.
Pay your Bills before you leave
This is another one of my many personal travel fails. I forgot to pay our phone bills before we left for New York and spent the 10 days without phone service. This made it especially frustrating whenever I ventured out alone to meet friends in the big bad city, with no clear idea where I was going. Sure, I consulted my travel apps and made sure I did not take the wrong trains but still, I should have known better than not to be able to call anyone in case of an emergency.
Keep your valuables safe at all times. This too I had to learn the hard way when I stored my backpack in the overhead bin in the train and got it stolen in Antwerp. The worst thing was that my passport and other valuables were in that backpack. I got “stuck” in Belgium for another two weeks. Not that I minded 😉 Even if it takes one of those body pouches, keeping your money, passport and other valuables safe during your travels is a must.
What other travel fails do you know to avoid?