Your ideal international trip, whether it’s for business or pleasure, goes a little something like this; a smooth flight sees you safely to your destination, your hotel room is plusher than the pictures, the city inspires and surprises you, and head home with no hitches.
So often, it doesn’t happen that way. Between your flight, the country you’re visiting and the return home there’s a long list of things that can – and do – go wrong. This isn’t any excuse to lock the door, draw the blinds and hibernate at home ‘till this all blows over. Nope, it’s just about taking a few sensible precautions. With that in mind, here are 4 mistakes first time travellers make and the IDEAL ways to fix them.
OVER PACKING FOR YOUR TRIP
People who are paranoid about encountering too many emergency situations (sorry for potentially fuelling that neurosis with this piece) while traveling may think they should pack everything including the kitchen sink. We do need to wash our hands more, after all. In reality, this can lead to further stress, and increases the chance of items getting lost, misplaced or stolen.
Pack your bags with both lightness and a sense of purpose, and you can’t go wrong. Plus, the more bags you take, the more you’ll have to pay in airline baggage fees, which often comes as a surprise at the check in desk, framing the start of your holiday in a negative way. Keep things light and breezy, and check out our space saving tips for packing your suitcase; you’ve got this.
Just because they’re a global, capitalist, billion dollar company (actually, because of this), doesn’t mean airlines don’t make mistakes. Indeed, seats can get oversold, reservations lost or amended without prior warning, glitches in their flight systems can cause delays or worse, cancellations.
A rookie error is to accept these issues with a shrug. In fact, there are a number of (admittedly limited) scenarios where an airline is legally obligated to compensate passengers flying internationally, though they depend on where the airline’s flight is originating from. But if you experience significant delays for reasons other than weather, and the delay causes you to miss a connection or something else important, you can usually get compensation in one form or another.
CASH OR CARD?
Securing your money while traveling internationally should be a priority. There are times you probably don’t want to carry cash, or at least very little of it. But it’s important to be aware that you may incur exchange fees for foreign withdrawals. Many of us avoid punitive currency-exchange rates at the airport by using our debit and credit cards on a summer trip. Then, when we get our statements at the end of the month, we realize it wasn’t such a smart move. We’re often charged 2.5%-5% on foreign transactions, and a £1.50-£3 fee every time we withdraw cash from an ATM.
It’s best to travel with a pre-loaded travel card. A handful of companies offer travel-friendly plastic. For example, the app-based Starling Bank charges no fees for the use of its debit card when you’re abroad – whether you’re making purchases or withdrawing cash. The app also has a handy card-locking function, so you can shut it down if you think it’s lost or stolen (and then unlock it if you find it again). The Halifax’s Clarity Mastercard also does not charge for overseas transactions and cash withdrawals. See moneysavingexpert.com for more options.
TRAVELLING WITHOUT INSURANCE
Traveller’s insurance is definitely something you should purchase. You can either get basic travel insurance, or your bank or home insurance may already have you covered. Don’t assume anything; make the necessary checks and do invest in some if you’re not already accounted for in this apartment. Mishaps do happen when on the move, and the extra assurance, for peace of mind as much as anything, is recommended. Keep in mind though, that if you choose to visit a dangerous country, e.g. war-zones or at risk of terrorism, the carrier may reject the application.