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5 Travel Mistakes I Make Again and Again

Travel Mistakes

I am not ashamed to admit that I make mistakes, especially while traveling. After all, I’m human, and no one is perfect (no matter how much they pretend to be online).

And don’t mistakes lead to lessons and learning? If only. However, what does in fact shame me is the fact that I tend to make the same mistakes traveling over and over again and never seem to learn my lesson. Oopsies.

You would think by now after over 7 years of international travel and 4 years of living abroad I would have learned a thing or two. To be fair, I’ve pretty much nailed this whole travel the world alone as a girl and get paid to travel (sometimes) deal on the head. And yet no one is as surprised as I am how frequently and consistently I do miss the target.

Travel Mistakes

Something that bothers me over the years in blogging and social media is the fact that travel is so glamorized and picture-perfect, literally. Let’s be honest, that’s not always the case. There is so much grit and details that go into a trip, especially my kind of trip, crazy moments and insane experiences that usually make the memory of the trip all the sweeter.

Of course I am talking about the bad times, the mistakes, the clusterfucks and the oh-shit moments that are an integral part of traveling. Can’t have the good without the bad. And yet how many travel blogs are out there that paint the world in technicolor rainbow of fake idealized perfection?

No one has ever accused me of being perfect.

So in an effort to recognize the problem and hope (probably in vain) for a solution, I’ve compiled a little list of 5 travel mistakes I make over and over again. The first step in finding a solution to something is recognizing there’s a problem, right?

Travel Mistakes

1. Packing

Overpacking. Or rather I should say, packing incorrectly.

I don’t know how I manage it, but somehow I pack all the wrong things for almost every single trip I take abroad – how is that possible?

From not bringing enough undies and socks to forgetting sweaters to swimsuits no matter where I am I tend to forget one crucial part of my wardrobe and bring several things I really didn’t need.

Like that one time I moved to New Zealand in winter and didn’t pack a coat or hiking boots. Well done me. I was so proud of myself that I managed to fit my life for a year in a suitcase and backpack and as it turned out, had nothing appropriate for the freezing windy wet misery that is Wellington in August.

Or that one time I went to Australia in the heat of summer and brought 4 pairs of long pants and one pair of shorts. And a parka.

2. I am not a member of any airline rewards program 

OMFG what is wrong with me?

For shame, Liz. For shame!

I’ve been flying internationally since 2005, I’ve had 9 years to get my ass into gear and join an airline rewards program and I STILL haven’t done it! Why?

While I can’t put my finger on it per say, but I reckon it has something to do with general laziness (on my part), intimidation and a little bit of regret. Regret for all the hundreds of flights and millions of miles that POOF disappeared into thin air in 7 years of round the world travel that will never count as points.

As soon as I book a flight or am booked on a flight, I think “oh yeah” I should get on that whole rewards business. And then I promptly forget until I check in at the airport and think to myself “damn I wish I had done that rewards thing. Next time.”

It’s a vicious cycle, guys.

In other news, will someone please tell me where to start with this? Thanks.

3. Forgetting to change my phone SIMS 

I believe it was the summer of 09 the first time I took my smartphone overseas and forgot to turn off data roaming. Cue a $500 bill from AT&T. Twice.

5 years later and it still happens. Or what’s even worse sometimes I’m in a position where I don’t have wifi and I desperately need to get online (but not really) and I reactivate the roaming to use the internet. Boom. $500 bill and a warning on my phone that my service has been suspended due to excessive roaming.

Why are the bills always $500?

Finally in 2012 before deciding to blog and travel full time, I sucked it up and paid a big fee to unlock my American iPhone so that I could by SIMs in each country I travel too, not having to depend entirely on wifi or roaming packages. Sometimes I would travel so much that I’d not have time or forget to buy a SIM in each country, so I would end up paying the roaming charges or buy data packages anyways!

Like that one time I went to Australia (last week) and forgot the Australia SIM I had bought the last time and ended up paying for New Zealand international data packages 3 times. Who am I?

Travel Mistakes

4. Traveling with no safety net

Sometimes when I think back to how I used to travel while still in college and straight afterwards, I am astonished more terrible things didn’t happen to me before I started to get my act together, something I am still working on.

For example, I traveled for years with only one debit card and no credit cards as either a safety net or backup. Do you know how many times Bank of America cut my card even though I notified them I was overseas? About twice a year. Is there anything worse than trying to pay for something only to have your card declined even though you have enough money on it? Embarrassing.

As you can probably imagine this contributed to the massive roaming charges I incurred on my phone either by searching for my bank info or phoning the US to sort it out.

Thinking back I am so lucky I was never robbed or pickpocketed and lost everything overseas. Knocks on wood.

Travel Mistakes

I finally got smart about it after one too many catastrophes, I set up a couple of credit cards, and I always make sure I have enough on them in case of a BIG emergency, instead of flying by the seat of my pants and living like “oh $100? that’ll last me a weekend in Paris if I’m frugal and sleep in the airport.” Oh to be 19 again.

However, being me, without giving too much away and embarrassing myself even more, let’s just say at New Zealand hasn’t been too kind to my credit cards at the moment and if I were to have a big emergency, I might be making a roaming call to the Bank of Mom. I hate myself.

Travel Mistakes

LUCKILY I did get smart about property insurance last spring and invested in a policy with Clement’s that covers my gadgets overseas for cheap – and which already saved me once when I had the misfortune of falling off a camel in Jordan and broke my brand new fancy camera a week after I bought it. Typical.

With my first solo trip to Turkey last year I also started buying travel insurance before each trip. World Nomads has heaps of customizable affordable policies that fit with my travel style – it’s flexible and can be changed easily online and covers ALL the adventure sports. The security of knowing I didn’t have to worry (too much) if something went wrong was amazing!

In the past I’ve sometimes hurt myself badly and not gone to the hospital because I was afraid of the costs, i.e. Jordan and that one time I almost died in Dublin. Now all I can say is I am too old for that shit, and before any big trip I buy travel insurance with World Nomads.

See, I’m learning!

 

5. Buying really early morning flights//bus tickets//train trips//donkey rides

I don’t know why I keep doing this, but over the years I have developed a phobia about waking up super early. Especially this past year, god knows why, but I have had a lot of sleeping problems. Like a lot.

It’s not that I need to sleep in really late, I try to have a schedule where I can be up and about doing things well before 8 at the latest. But if I know I have to get up before 6, I can’t sleep at night. This is most definitely the case if I have to be up for something important, like a flight or some form of travel.

Travel Mistakes

Especially after I realized that my travel style was evolving and I wasn’t suited for long-term rush travel. I was a turtle and I liked to take things slow and actually enjoy where I am.

And yet for some reason or another I somehow end up booking transport or arranging things super early, usually when I don’t need to. Oh a 7am international flight? Sounds perfect. Nope, that means I have to be at the airport at 5am and then get transport to the airport earlier, so in general I’m looking at a 4am wakeup call.

If I know that I have to get up at 4am, I can’t sleep the night before, no matter what I do. I have tried and tried and tried so many different things over the years and nothing works. The obvious solution is avoid early morning transport days, right? And yet here we are. Haven’t learned my lesson yet.

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118 Responses to 5 Travel Mistakes I Make Again and Again

  1. Chanel | Cultural Xplorer June 28, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Three things …
    1. I LOATHE packing and unpacking. I tend to avoid it until the last minute.
    2. Liz, you really need to join an airline program. Rack up those miles!
    3. I always book early stuff too! (and I am not a morning person)

    Great post :D

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:42 am #

      Phew I’m glad I’m not alone but which reward program do I join??? there are so many!

      • Christophe July 4, 2014 at 10:49 am #

        With most frequent flyer programmes you need to do an insane number of miles per year to get anything good, but there’s a bit of a travel hack you can do with Aegean Airlines:

        http://runningwithmiles.boardingarea.com/get-star-alliance-status-with-aegean-airlines/

        They’re a Greek airline, but you don’t ever have to fly with them, just grab the right flights with one of the Star Alliance partners (including Singapore Airlines, Air New Zealand and United).

        http://www.staralliance.com/en/about/member_airlines/

        For example, one return flight from London to Auckland on the right fare code and you could get gold status… lounge access, extra baggage, the works :)

        • Liz July 5, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

          Awesome thanks for the tips!

  2. Lauren @ Sweet Home Australia June 28, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

    Ha! These are great. The best travel stories tend to be the unglamorous ones :) You definitely need to break the cycle and join some airline reward programs! If I were you I’d join one in the Star Alliance (United) and one in the OneWorld Alliance (American), then you can get miles whether you’re flying Air New Zealand, Qantas, or whatever. There’s no reason you should feel bad for starting a little late in the game – in a year or two you’ll probably have earned some free flights already, so just go for it!

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:43 am #

      Good tips, but which of the ones on those alliances are the fastest to earn the different statuses?

      • Lauren @ Sweet Home Australia July 1, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

        For earning status and upgrades, I’d say your best bet is joining the program of whatever local airline you fly most often. Joining a US airline’s program wouldn’t help you as much in that case because airline alliances don’t really honour each other’s statuses except for early boarding and lower baggage fees. Sorry if that doesn’t help much, but this conversation would be better had over a flat white or even better – a few pints of beer! Ha! It’s easy to get paralysed with indecision over something like this, but there’s no perfect way to do it and it’s always a gamble. No matter what program you join, I bet you’ll have free flights in another year or two and getting some free flights is better than nothing! ;)

        • Liz July 1, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

          thanks for teh tips!! I really really need them :) If you’re ever in Wanaka let me know :)

  3. Kate June 28, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

    Oh my goodness, yes to taking the earliest trips to save money, overpacking and not being a member of a rewards program! I really need to tackle all of these things. Most recently, I booked tickets to Amsterdam where I made a conscious effort to book time appropriate travel, but I did resent paying more for it!

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:43 am #

      It’s so annoying!

  4. Kate M June 29, 2014 at 12:07 am #

    Gonna be totally honest and hope it doesn’t come across as shaming – I almost cried thinking about all the miles you’d have racked up. But, it’s never too late to start, and with as much as you travel, you wouldn’t have to go full-travel-hacker to get some nice upgrades or free flights in a year or so. It’ll seriously take you like 5 minutes to sign up for a program or two, and then you just put the membership number in when you book a flight. Couldn’t be easier!
    Also, I’m so glad I’m not the only person who can’t sleep before early travel. I’ve finally learned my lesson (after like 7 or 8 years) and booked my next flight to depart in the evening. Why has it taken me this long??

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:45 am #

      haha I know, I think that’s why I put it off weirdly enough, I think about all those lost miles and cringe

  5. Charlie June 29, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    Ha ha, you’re definitely not along on these travel mistake. The poor packing thing, totally with you on this problem. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m completely unable to pack light however hard I try. I’m really keen to join an airline reward program but keep forgetting to look into it (thanks for reminding me!). Early morning travel sucks – unfortunately that’s when all the deals seem to be.

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:45 am #

      phew not just me then haha

  6. Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon June 29, 2014 at 1:35 am #

    I hate packing too and I have no travel insurance. :) I’m not a member of a rewards program – but on the other hand I almost never fly because I’m broke, or just cheap. Probably both. :)

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:45 am #

      uh oh haha

  7. Laura June 29, 2014 at 2:15 am #

    Hah, I love this post – and I always do #5 too, but for me, it’s because I’m not a morning person and I figure that booking things super early will somehow transform me into a morning person. Never works.

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      I think exactly the same and it never works ever! The only time I’m a morning person is if I’m jetlagged

  8. Rachel of Hippie in Heels June 29, 2014 at 2:41 am #

    dude i can’t sleep at night either when I have an early flight.. but u know what’ll happen if you book a later one, you’ll wake up at 6 am and then sit around thinking you forgot to pack something or staring at a clock! thats what I do haha

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      hahaha true story

  9. Tiffany June 29, 2014 at 3:50 am #

    Haha, yes! The early morning travel always looks/sounds OK on paper, but the reality of being functional after a couple hours of shut-eye, if that, is kind of sucky. Plus, there’s no time to do anything last minute – everything has to be packed and ready the day before. I need some last minute organization!

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:46 am #

      me too me too

  10. Marta Kulesza June 29, 2014 at 3:57 am #

    I hate packing. I always forget something and have to buy it on the spot. About that airline frequent flyer programme, I should consider doing it too, especially before travelling all the way from Europe to New Zealand. II usually don’t sleep before a big trip either, and those early morning tickets tend to be cheaper. Especially for trains in Germany! I am blessed with the ability of sleeping pretty much anywhere (street, bus, airplane) so luckily I am not really bothered by this.

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:50 am #

      I can’t sleep anywhere it drives me nuts

  11. Jennifer June 29, 2014 at 4:52 am #

    A little air miles tip? Many companies do retroactive miles and sometimes go back as far as 6 months or a year since you flew. You won’t recoup all of them, but it’s better than none (which is what you have now).

    Another tip: Create a little document or sticky note where you list all your FF accounts. Schedule a 2-hour appointment with yourself, sit down with your phone/laptop, and as you sign up for each one, write down each account.

    Or better yet, hire an assistant on odesk or elance to do it for you. You travel enough to need an assistant, right? ;)

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:51 am #

      awesome tip! i definitely need an assistant.

  12. Alana - Paper Planes June 29, 2014 at 5:48 am #

    I went to Bali last month and didn’t take a swimsuit…or a power converter.

    And I thought I was being smart buying the early ticket so I could get to the island in the afternoon and have plenty of daylight to settle in and make the most of my time….which meant I needed to be at the airport by 3:30 a.m.

    I’m constantly failing at this travel thing too…

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:52 am #

      Yikes!

  13. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas June 29, 2014 at 6:35 am #

    You’re human, shit happens. I find that, the more I travel, the more bad luck I have, and I’m thankful I’m at least used to having to run around like a crazy person to set things right.

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      haha I know what you mean

  14. Lauren June 29, 2014 at 7:12 am #

    I do exactly the same thing before an early morning wake-up / flight … I can never sleep the night before! I just keep thinking that I’m going to sleep in, I’m paranoid that I won’t wake up early….so I won’t sleep! Ack!

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      Exactly the same thoughts

  15. Kasia June 29, 2014 at 8:08 am #

    I completely understand this post! And thank you for being able to share. So many travel bloggers can’t admit what they really go through, which is the stuff I’d rather know about!!
    After 3 years as an expat, you’d think I too can have it sorted but I’m a serial overpacker (and stresser-outer about my clothing choices for a trip) and constantly book early morning trips. It’s not the early morning that’s so bad, but rather we always manage to end up being in a late night situation the night before.

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:53 am #

      Me too!

  16. Polly June 29, 2014 at 9:13 am #

    Oh dear. It only took me one massive phone bill to never repeat THAT again. Otherwise, I’m the same way: I never learn…

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:54 am #

      I just call and whine and they usually drop the charges haha but still I should have learned by now!

  17. Paul Scharf June 29, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    As for the missing safety net, I think it is the only way to travel and make useful experience.
    As long as you travel without backup, without safety net, you will make a lot of experiences, good or bad, which will have been prevented by any sort of safety net.

    Because backups and safety nets are means of a comfort zone you built up in order not to suffer.
    Getting out of your comfort zone is an Important experience, one should have every then and now because it is the only that way you deeply learn about yourself.

    “You learn the most about yourself at the very edge of your comfort zone.”

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      Interesting, good point!

  18. Candice June 29, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    Travel reward programs are my big miss, too. I just get paralyzed by too many choices! I think I just need someone to hand hold me through the whole process.

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:41 pm #

      Me too, me too

  19. Erin of No Ordinary Nomad June 29, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    I always fall into the early flight trap too! I seem to justify it to myself when I book it by comparing it to my usual time zone and thinking that it’s not that early, then regretting it later!

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

      I’m exactly the same!

  20. Rachael June 29, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    Haha I underpacked while moving to the US and still continue to over pack on all my holidays. I can never hit that balance right!

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:42 pm #

      Me neither, it’s really tricky!

  21. Jess June 29, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Argh, do I hear you on the safety net.

    We came to the US (currently here in Cali) with four cards from Australia and Canada, both debit and credit. Would you believe we’ve had problems with each card? Right down to my bank in Australia locking my card EVERY TIME I USED IT. It took me eight calls to lose my shit at them entirely, so I think I managed it well – but I really didn’t feel like ending up in a prison cell in Las Vegas because someone thought I couldn’t pay a bill and didn’t want to wait for me to call my bank to sort out my card.

    I used to think it was silly that my mother got special travel debit cards that you load money onto and use as a credit card, but now I’m starting to think she had the right idea!

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

      I hadn’t even thought of that but that might be a good idea!

    • Jonathan June 30, 2014 at 5:50 am #

      How difficult is it to ring your card provider before you go abroad? A few minutes on the phone before I went to China and the only problem on debit or credit card was when their systems were down due to a power cut. Even then they made a phone call and sorted it in minutes. I’ve had more problems back at home than the other side of the world!

      • Jess June 30, 2014 at 5:54 am #

        I did, Jonathan. Twice before we left – eight times on the road.

        That’s how hard it is. But thanks for the concern. ;)

        • Liz June 30, 2014 at 8:32 am #

          Yeah like I said in my post, I always notify my banks in advance and they still manage to put my cards on hold when I travel. So annoying!

  22. Katie @ The World on my Necklace June 29, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    Haha I do exactly the same thing in regards to booking things to start early, and I can’t sleep either if I know I have to be up at the crack of dawn. I am so scared that I won’t wake up when my alarm goes off that I toss and turn all night. The overpacking thing is sometimes a problem for me too. I used to be really bad. I find now that for long term trips I am great at packing but for shorter trips, I tend to pack the same amount as I would for an extended trip. I will probably never learn but that’s OK, no one is perfect.

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

      that’s a good way to look at it, and what I tell myself too haha

  23. Jamie June 29, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    Freaking airline miles. -_- I did what someone suggested above — join one airline from each of the two major world alliances, and then everything I buy trickles into one or the other.

    I picked American Airlines, I’ve been flying them since college. But it’s so paltry — only 55,000 in like 10 years! I booked on Air Berlin for a flight from LA to Germany, and that went towards my American miles. I also have no life, so I fill out surveys to get rewards miles. Ho hum.

    I’m also part of United Airlines miles (I signed up to benefit from my trip to New Zealand on AirNZ!)… but when converting AirNZ to United miles, I was annoyed to find out that you get miles based on how much you paid for the flight, and if it’s a certain code (it’s on the ticket), you don’t get -any-! I thought I would get about 12,000 miles for LA->NZ and back, but I only ended up getting about 1,500 for the big flight and a few hundred for the domestic NZ flights. I was bummed. When I took United to fly to Wyoming, I think I got miles based on distance though.

    I don’t really know who does miles based on $$$ spent versus miles based on distance traveled. =\

    I thought about trying to use Air NZ’s frequent flier thing but you have to PAY to be in it.

    Anyway, tl;dr — I’d suggest signing up for two programs, and seeing how much retroactive credit they’ll give you!

    • Jamie June 29, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

      Oh yeah — the dumb thing was the 1,500 was from only one way between Auckland and LA. I didn’t get credit for the other way for some goofy reason. I even emailed because i thought “oh, they just forgot to give me credit for like…4 of the 6 legs of my flights”, but they were like “….nope.”

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

      Good idea, thanks!

    • Tracey June 30, 2014 at 7:32 am #

      Hi Jamie, Liz (and anyone else who wants to join Air New Zealand’s Airpoints). If you use the promo code “JOINAP” when signing up, it’ll wipe the $50 joining fee.

      There is a further $20 fee per year (taken out of your Airpoints balance) which truly sucks ass, but there are ways around paying it. If you’re in New Zealand and get an Airpoints credit card, you won’t pay a fee and your Airpoints dollars will never expire. Also if you fly with Air NZ, you don’t have to pay the annual fee in that calendar year.

      Generally, Air NZ’s earning rates are paltry, but they’re by far the easier frequent flyer programme to actually spend points. I never got my head around other programmes with limited seats etc. Seemed too much of a hassle to me and my points were always expiring before I had a chance to use them.

      • Liz June 30, 2014 at 8:32 am #

        Awesome tip thanks tracey!

      • Jamie July 2, 2014 at 7:48 am #

        Ahh, dang! I wish I had known that when I visited NZ. Thank you for the tip! It did seem like they were the most straightforward for spending points. I’d love to go back (sooner rather than later), so I hope there is still a code like that when I go! That makes me happy. :D

        • Tracey July 2, 2014 at 10:26 am #

          They’ve been using the same code for years so I’m sure it will be :-)

  24. Empty Rucksack June 29, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    This is quite funny, we often find ourselves doing similar things again n again.
    Great post.

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

      I certainly never learn!

  25. Amber June 29, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    I try my hardest not to book early morning flights or trains or buses, but sometimes it is unavoidable. I have the same problem where anytime I need to be on a mode of transportation before 6, I don’t sleep the night before.

    As for the FFM, if you are based in the States sign up for 2 programs: United Air and American Air. They are each part of a huge alliance (Star Alliance and One World). You can then use your United number when you fly on Singapore Air, Thai Air, Luftansa, All Nippon…. and about 20 other airlines. Same with AA, where you can use that number of Qatar Air, Cathay, BA, Qantas, Lan….That way you will have 2 numbers for most of the long haul flights you will take. The most important part is checking which alliance an airline is with before you book and just entering that number in when booking. Good luck! I may check in with you to make sure you do this. We have had soooo many free flights over the years because of FFM. Must do!

    • Liz June 29, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

      Thanks for the tips! I am not based in the states and never fly there anymore, so I am wondering what star alliance or one world partner would be best to start with? looks like I have to start researching!

  26. Nikita June 29, 2014 at 11:46 pm #

    Every single one of these, except I often travel without a phone. Which is a whole other problem. I know I really really should join a rewards program… But it just seems so overwhelming, and also I’m lazy.
    Hopefully we’ll both learn, eventually!
    Or master the art of travelling without conventionl logic.

    • Liz June 30, 2014 at 8:27 am #

      I like the second one :P

  27. Patricia June 30, 2014 at 1:31 am #

    I’ve found, interestingly enough, when I leave plenty of time for packing and try to plan what to pack, that’s when I tend to forget something relatively important. Strangely when I pack the night before or the morning of, I’m mostly successful.

    And you’re not alone on being unable to sleep with those early morning travel plans! I’m the same way, even when setting the hotel alarm and my phone alarm, I’m still waking up just about every hour during the night in fear of oversleeping!

    Thanks for sharing! And good luck with continued packing! One of these days, the suitcase will have just the right amount of everything needed, right?

    • Liz June 30, 2014 at 8:27 am #

      I always pack right before I leave, I wonder if that’s the problem?

  28. Sarah June 30, 2014 at 2:41 am #

    Good article Liz! Thank you for the tips! I’m going to be starting my own long term travel adventure soon and I honestly would have forgotten about changing my phone SIM. For frequent flyer miles, check out Extra Pack of Peanuts (http://www.extrapackofpeanuts.com/). I found this website to be helpful especially the explanations on how to actually use the miles once you get them.

    • Liz June 30, 2014 at 8:27 am #

      Thanks for the tip!

  29. Ashley June 30, 2014 at 3:46 am #

    I’ve been meaning to sign up for an airline rewards program and keep putting it off as well. Also cringing at all of the miles I could have accumulated by now!

    • Liz June 30, 2014 at 8:28 am #

      we both need to sign up now!

  30. Marissa June 30, 2014 at 5:05 am #

    I love this article!!!! I also am not part of any frequent flyer miles program either….which mostly I think is because I always fly the cheapest airline and so I have lots of miles on random airlines, but like when am I ever going to fly Norwegian Air again anytime soon?!?!

    I once signed up for a Delta AMEX card, but I didn’t feel it was worth it. I only earned 1 mile per dollar and the free flights were like 30,000 points ONE WAY! And there was an annual fee. Plus I moved to an area where Delta wasn’t a main airline. I switched over to a cash rewards program and I basically just cash in my points once every few months in 25-50$ increments. I love it!

    • Liz June 30, 2014 at 8:31 am #

      I know what you mean but I think even those random small airlines are usually part of a bigger network. Oops.

  31. Julianne June 30, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    I’m just like you with the early flights, etc. I always do it, and almost always regret it. Your blog is awesome!! Thanks for the tips – I’ve never really thought about most of these.

    xo Julianne

    • Liz June 30, 2014 at 1:44 pm #

      Thanks glad you like my little blog :)

  32. Jessica M June 30, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    WORD! I Absolutely love this. My weaknesses are #1 and #5. No matter what I do, I ALWAYS pack incorrectly. Or I overpack AND pack incorrectly. I’ve taken to just traveling with 2 sets of seasonally appropriate outfits, knowing that I can pick up pieces wherever I’m going that I will like more and will feel more appropriate than anything I can buy at home. Since my souvenirs often end up as clothing items anyway (leaving me to then wear 3 outfits at once to get them all home) I’ve finally (FINALLY) learned that this is the smartest thing for me to do.
    My biggest mistake used to be that I would buy something new right before leaving to go abroad, that I wore once in the dressing room or worse, just ordered online and put directly in my bag (yep, I’m that person), and then I would get to where I was going and realize that I actually hate this item, and it’s a complete waste of space in my suitcase. You see some model online somewhere in Europe wearing something lovely and imagine yourself wearing that thing on your trip to Geneva as well, and then when you get there you realize that that catalog was shot in spring, it’s now late fall, and you’re also not a size 0.
    And I cannot agree with you strongly enough about #5! 7am flights — or their counterpart, red eye midnight flights — are always the cheapest, and seem like such a good idea at the time (I’m saving so much money! I’m giving myself so much time on the other end because I’m saving a day of travel!) but it’s just never a good idea. No sleep, having to rush, panicking, forgetting something important, feeling miserable on the flight (which is already not the most comfortable thing you can do to yourself), etc. etc.. Now I just accept that I’m need at least 5 hours to wake up, prepare myself, and get to the airport, and that’s just how it’s going to be.
    This is so genius — well done =)
    xx

    • Liz June 30, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      glad you can relate, I totally do the same thing about online shopping, and usually it’s something really cute but uncomfortable and I never end up wearing it. Fail!

  33. Christy June 30, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

    I make all of these mistakes over and over too! And many more… like booking travel on a holiday and then realizing all the hotel prices are ridiculously expensive and the place I’m visiting is crowded beyond belief. I ha’ve yet to learn my lesson about booking travel over Easter holidays.

    I did finally get my act together with the airline miles and got elite status with American because of it! Once you get elite status with one airline, you can get status match on a few others and it’s gotten me at least 3 first class upgrades. I recently wrote a post about how to get elite status match if you want to check it out.

    • Liz July 1, 2014 at 10:05 am #

      Link me lady! I need to learn!

      • Christy July 2, 2014 at 8:57 am #

        This is status match post only gives specific info for US Airlines, but I’m told it works the same for airlines outside of the US. I think you should start with which airline you fly with the most and look at their partners. That’s why I chose American Air. I fly with them and their partners a lot, so I put all of the miles I could on American (even if I was flying with their partners) and that’s how I got Gold status after a year. Once you get status with one of them, you should definitely look into doing a match with any airline who will offer it. http://ordinarytraveler.com/tipsarticles/airline-elite-status-match

        • Liz July 2, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

          awesome, thanks for the tips!

  34. Jen Seligmann June 30, 2014 at 10:50 pm #

    I think I am guilty of each one of these at least once or twice too. Packing is a constant nightmare for me and I am so sensitive to extreme hot and extreme cold. When I went to Japan in October I figured it would be starting to get cold so packed mostly inbetween seasons clothes a few warmer things. Well, in three weeks the temperature was lucky to dip below 30 and I spent the whole time trying to find “cool” (both meanings) ways to roll my long pants up.

    • Liz July 1, 2014 at 10:05 am #

      hahah I do the same thing!

  35. Sam @ Travelling King June 30, 2014 at 11:27 pm #

    fantastic article!!!
    totally agree about packing… im heading to London next week and i have started packing and i have no idea what to pack as im gong from an Aussie winter to an English summer…?!?!
    and i have no idea how im going to transport my millions of bits and pieces involved in taking technology around the world!

    • Liz July 1, 2014 at 10:06 am #

      It depends sometimes the UK in summer is shit and rainy and chilly othertimes it’s nice. I doubt it will be as warm as oz in summer though

  36. Shannon Healey July 1, 2014 at 3:12 am #

    Hi Liz! Another great post, per usual. :)

    I totally agree with you on the packing thing. Sometimes the weather changes unpredictably, or I pack more for ‘en route’ than what I’ll want to wear once I arrive at my destination. Generally speaking, airports are cold, but beaches are not… so that poses a problem.

    That said, I think I’m getting better at mastering the art of packing for any scenario. On our recent 6 month trip abroad, we encountered just about every weather pattern out there, with the exception of a sandstorm, and overall did pretty well! #winning Haha. But it’s always a challenge, for sure.

    In case you, or anyone is interested, here’s how we managed to travel with just a carry on luggage for 6 months! http://www.cameraandcarryon.com/2014/06/what-we-really-should-have-packed/

    • Liz July 1, 2014 at 10:07 am #

      thanks for the tip!

  37. Melissa July 1, 2014 at 5:31 am #

    Hi Liz! Just found your website and it’s amazing!! So jealous of your life and travels all around the world!! I’m looking to travel outside the US, like to Europe and other countries. Flights going out to those countries are super expensive. Any tips/ recommendations to get started on traveling overseas with the flights being so expensive?
    Also, do you plan an itinerary when you travel to a certain place? How do you budget your spending money? Do you mainly stay at hostels?
    Thanks! And loveeee your blog!!

    • Liz July 1, 2014 at 10:09 am #

      hmmm I generally look on sites like skyscanner and kayak for deals, and you can get to Europe cheap from the US with Icelandair – and get to stopver in iceland if you want. Flights aren’t always expensive, you have to look for deals. Flying to europe in july and august is expensive because it’s peak season. I stay in a mis of places, like hostels or decent budget hotels or even rent a room like on airbnb. you can couchsurf to save money too.

  38. Sarah July 1, 2014 at 7:22 am #

    Haha, I recognise so much of myself in here. Especially the early morning flights (also extremely long lay overs that come with cheap flights). On top of my to do list: joining an airline reward program and getting a credit card. You’re not alone!

    • Liz July 1, 2014 at 10:09 am #

      we need to do it!

  39. Amanda July 1, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    My stupid travel stunt was to book a flight that arrived in Dublin early in the morning and follow the advice of a friend and plunge into our activities on local time. I didn’t stop to think that at that point I’d been going nearly 27 hours nonstop. So one of our first activities in Ireland was to sideswipe a stone wall and find out that at least Rick Steves’ advice about getting rental insurance was dead-on.

    BTW, I’ve a friend who is deadly allergic to onions. When a chef accidentally exposed her by using the same knife on onions, then carrots, he came out of the kitchen with 3 shots of vodka and instructions for her to gargle and spit out the first one, swish out her mouth and spit out the second one, and swallow the third. He told us it was a trick they taught him in culinary school. Apparently the vodka can really clean out your mouth. It certainly helped my friend. She felt just a touch itchy around her lips, but that was all. Which was wonderful as we were expecting anaphalactic shock at any moment.

    • Liz July 1, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

      holy shit! Yeah I usually do the same thing but with water – I’ll remember the vodka trick!

  40. Alouise July 1, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    That instagram video made me laugh.
    My repeat travel mistake – not asking for directions when I’m hopelessly lost. I’ll be wandering around a city, looking for some restaurant/attractions/site/whatever and I’ll get lost and then I’ll start getting sad and angry, but do I stop and ask someone nearby for directions? Nope. You’d think I’d learn by now, but I don’t.

    • Liz July 1, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

      I am the same way!

  41. Justine July 2, 2014 at 10:32 am #

    I totally feel you on the overpacking thing. I’m currently traveling long-term in Colombia. And, of course, I didn’t do proper research into what the weather would be like. All I knew is that it would be cold in Bogota. So I packed 4 pairs of long pants! Who does that? Now I’m in Cartagena where it is almost 100 degrees. I haven’t worn a pair of long pants once! Now all that clothing is just taking up room in my backpack. I will NEVER learn how to pack correctly :(

    • Liz July 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

      Me neither, me neither

  42. zaby July 5, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    oh joy i have found your blog!!! i love travel blogs, and now you have one more follower. the credit and debt part is funny i liked that section. I hate it when you have to call home to your bank to sort out issues.

    • Liz July 6, 2014 at 7:23 pm #

      me too, me too

  43. Franca July 7, 2014 at 2:12 am #

    I can relate with some of these, I keep booking early trips because they are often the ones with special discounts or simply less expensive, but I wouldn’t mind taking it more easy sometimes :)

    • Liz July 7, 2014 at 4:52 pm #

      Yeah that’s smart, it depends on the trip you’re headed on I suppose :D

  44. Scott July 9, 2014 at 12:06 am #

    Yep, we pretty much do the exact same thing. We will say things like “make a note, never do this again …” and end up doing the same thing a few weeks later. Amazing how we get caught up in the moment and just forget stuff that has happened before. Ditto on the rewards and the safety net, that’s for sure.

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:03 pm #

      haha glad it’s not just me :D

  45. Kaleena's Kaleidoscope July 9, 2014 at 1:50 am #

    Hahaha this is all so me, especially the packing! Five years ago when I backpacked South America I apparently didn’t even look up the weather or climate ahead of time. I figured, “it’s summer in the south, it’ll just be warm and sunny the whole time!” I didn’t even bring a sweater. Cue hiking through the snow in Patagonia and wondering why I never use my brain…

    • Liz July 11, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

      samesies girl!

  46. Abe Snider July 12, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    Very glad we just found your site. We are two Americans headed to NZ in a month or so and your blogs have really helped us get an idea for it. I look forward to the next post. I am wondering though, are you working? We are planning on doing the Working Holiday Visa. Any tips on that? Thanks!

  47. Claus. July 14, 2014 at 3:52 am #

    Early morning flights is the worst thing in the world.
    I am always so afraid that I will sleep in and miss my flight that I get no sleep the whole night.

  48. Peggy July 17, 2014 at 11:42 pm #

    I’m a member of a few frequent flyer programs and yet! Many many thousands of miles later I haven’t really reaped the benefits – two trips: LON-ARN and SYD-HAN, are all I have to show for it! It takes a lot of time and effort to really work the system and redeem those pesky miles for an actual airfare – and many times I’ve costed a “free” flight with miles and compared it to a budget trip – and after taxes, fees and fuel charges are added on, the budget airline flight STILL works out cheaper! Not worth it – keep on trucking the way you have!

  49. Lenny July 18, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    I always make the exact same mistakes! I think that’s just something really dificult to change. I improved my packing skills and financial safety but I’m still not very skilled in it :D Great article, funny and interesting. Keep going!

  50. Rory July 19, 2014 at 7:53 am #

    I don’t really know about the airmiles thing. I have tried a couple of times, and my points have always expired. It seems (to me anyhow) that you would end up paying more trying to fly with your airmiles partner than you would by just buying the cheapest flight and forgeting about which airline. Unless you are a business person who always flies on the company dime…
    I could easily be wrong – maybe I just don’t travel enough!

  51. Ceri July 19, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    I love that I was reading this thinking, ‘I don’t make mistakes anymore, I’ve totally got this down.’

    And then I read your 5 points and was like ‘OMG I DO EXACTLY THOSE SILLY THINGS TOO!’ Haha. Yup. I still keep making the same mistakes and never learn. :P

  52. Nguyen July 21, 2014 at 9:25 pm #

    I usually forget to bring sun cream and mosquitoes cream protection when I travel, especially when I go picnic in the forest. These silly mistakes keep repeat again and again haha :)

  53. NZ Muse July 30, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    Yep, can’t do travel at ungodly hours. Not anymore. Nuh uh.

  54. Oksana | Drink Tea & Travel August 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

    I’ve recently become obsessed with collecting frequent flyer points. I started by going to the major airline alliance websites and signing up for 1 frequent flyers card per alliance. Check out Star Alliance, SkyTeam and One World. They are the biggest ones and you can use a Frequent Flyer card from any airline within the alliance to collect points on flights with other partner airlines. Brilliant system! You should definitely get into it!

  55. Justin September 5, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    Seriously, http://www.knowroaming.com/ is a lifesaver for international travel. Cool blog btw

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