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6 Common Travel Mistakes

According to a recent spending survey, Americans who said they were planning a summer vacation noted that they’ll spend between $1,000 and just under $5,000 on their travel. Making a mistake could mean an unpleasant financial surprise, potentially knocking up that number quite a bit, or create unnecessary hassles that turn a fun excursion into a stressful event.

With that in mind, whether you plan to visit California’s Silicon Valley to tour San Jose houses for sale or enjoy a romantic getaway under the Mediterranean sun in Santorini, avoid these travel mistakes to increase the odds of a positive experience.

Failing to Check Your Passport

If your passport is close to expiring, it could cost you a significant amount of money to expedite its renewal. Many countries will deny you entry if it expires in less than six months to avoid having visitors stuck there on expired passports. You’ll also want to ensure you have enough blank pages available for the passport stamps of every country you plan to visit. Double-check yours as soon as you begin the planning process and renew if necessary. If you wait until the last minute, the fees to have it expedited are pricey – anywhere from $60 if you need it within a few weeks, to hundreds of dollars for 24-hour renewal. 

Paying for Rental Car Insurance When You’re Already Covered

There’s a good chance that your auto insurance policy covers car rentals and the credit card you use to pay for them will take care of many of the extras. Don’t make the mistake of wasting your money by purchasing something that’s redundant. Check with your credit card company and car insurance carrier beforehand to find out if you really need to purchase additional insurance.

Exchanging Currency at Home

Many people traveling to another country assume the cheapest way to exchange currency is via their bank at home, but in most cases getting cash from the ATM once you’ve arrived at your destination is your best bet. Be sure to check with your bank to find out what the fees are for using your debit card abroad – some banks offer unlimited ATM withdrawals when traveling internationally and won’t charge you any transaction fees. A few, like Charles Schwab and Chase, even refund the ATM fees charged by other banks whether you’re at home or overseas.

Dining Next to a Landmark Tourist Site

Anytime you dine near a major tourist site, say the Pantheon in Rome, not only are you going to pay a lot more but the quality is unlikely to be up to par. When restaurants know people aren’t going to be regular customers, they aren’t as concerned about providing a consistently good experience when it comes to both the food and the service. Go where the locals go, the farther away from tourist traps the better. You can usually get recommendations from hotel staff or your Airbnb/B&B host.

Not Reading the Fine Print When Searching for Car Rental Options

Researching car rental rates can be confusing as you’re not always comparing apples to apples. The rate that’s advertised is often not the rate you’ll pay as it doesn’t include things like airport surcharges, taxes or insurance. Make sure you read the fine print to determine what the rate includes to avoid an unpleasant surprise when you pick up the vehicle. 

Crashing After a Long-Haul Flight

If you’re traveling a long distance, especially trips that require a long-haul flight, it can be tempting to check into your hotel and take a nap. But that nap can easily turn into an hours-long snooze fest which is only going to make jet lag that much worse. Instead, try to sleep on the plane, using an eye mask and ear plugs if necessary. Once you reach your destination, stay awake until as close to your normal bedtime there as possible so that you can wake up the next morning feeling refreshed and ready to explore.

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