Planning a trip is exciting, magical and can get us in the mood to explore new places and things. But unless you pay someone – say a travel agent – to worry about everything for you, you’ll soon enough find out that the magic…can turn into a nightmare. I’ve been traveling independently for the past 15 years and – without jinxing myself – I can safely say I was able to avoid most of the travel drama.
But what in the world I am really talking about?
Let’s see. Many things can – and will – go wrong. The longer the trip, the more chances of something to happen. Call it the Murphy’s law of travel if you want.
1. Packing too much
I was guilty of this. Until I started flying carry on only. Boy did that make me turn into an expert. I go by this rule: pack half the clothes and bring twice the money. Really. You can find a t-shirt anywhere in this world and I am pretty sure buying soap is not a problem either. Certain lady items may be a bit hard to find though (so pack your tampons, ladies!).
Pack your carry on so that you have clothes for 3-4 days. Washing machines have made an appearance at accommodations, trust me on this. So 2-3 t-shirts are more than enough. And always wear your bulkiest clothes when you fly.
2. Visas or lack thereof
If there’s something I hate about traveling, that’s figuring out what I need to enter a country. Sure, the European Union is a safe bet: I’m a European Union citizen therefore I can travel anywhere in the area with my ID card. Yes, but for the States, I need visa on arrival. Stop it right there. And start looking into an ESTA application. This is a document which allows citizens from participating countries to enter the States without the traditional visas needed for stays of 90 days of less. Bye bye , drama, hello States!
3. Currency exchange rates
Guilty! Back in the summer of 2011, myself and dearest boyfriend (now , hubby) decided to go to Budapest for the first time as a couple. Previously we’ve been in 2007 as part of a group of friends. What do you know? The prices have doubled (literally) and our money barely lasted for 3 days (out of 5 planed!). Result? We exchanged the train tickets and go back home a day earlier.
I am not saying you should avoid a destination because of the bad rates. I am saying: do the research before you leave! And Hungary is also a good example of a country where you’d rather exchange Hungarian Forint before you enter the country than when you get there. You are welcome!
4. Assume your plane tickets are refundable
So you bought your tickets – maybe part of a longer trip – and you decide to ditch a leg and do something else. Totally fine. But when you start to relay on the money you would have got for that ticket if you cancelled it, things get messy. Generally speaking, plane tickets are not refundable. I am talking mostly about low cost carriers here but traditional carriers don’t really like to refund anything in case of cancellations, particularly for very cheap tickets. And forget exchanges: those end up so expensive you are better off getting a new ticket.