5 Travel Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

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When it comes to our vacation plans, many of us spend hours researching flights, accommodations, and what we’ll do when we arrive. However, quite often we forget a few small things that could easily derail our travel plans. Here are the top travel mistakes you can make and how you can avoid them.

5 Travel Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make

Not checking your passport

I know it sounds crazy, but you won’t believe how many people forget to check their passports before their departure date and then they end up panicking. Sure, you could apply for an emergency passport, but why put yourself through all that stress for no reason? Keep in mind that some countries require passports to be valid for at least six months from your return date, so you may want to consider renewing early.

Not getting your finances in order

Before you depart, you should pay off any balances on your credit card in full, even if your statement hasn’t arrived yet. Not sure how much you currently owe? Log in to your account online or call your credit card provider for the details. The last thing you want is for your bills to be due when you’re abroad with limited internet access.

You’ll also want to ensure that you’ve got your cash and credit cards in order before you depart. If your credit card provider is not a major bank, then you should call them to let them know you’re travelling so a hold isn’t put on your card when you use it abroad. You should also exchange enough money for a cab ride to your accommodations in the local currency before you depart, just in case.

Forgetting to purchase travel insurance

One of the craziest things people do is travelling without travel insurance. Your provincial health care does not cover you when you leave the country, so if you need medical attention while travelling, it could cost you a small fortune. Seriously, a quick trip to the doctor could costs you hundreds of dollars. If you’re headed to the emergency room, you could be looking at a bill in the thousands of dollars, if not more.

Fortunately, getting travel insurance is quite inexpensive. Some employers and credit cards offer it as a standard benefit, but you could also buy a separate travel insurance policy on your own.

BMO Insurance has an annual medical travel insurance plan that offers coverage for an unlimited amount of trips per year up to 23 continuous days of travel for just $92 per year for those between the ages of 18 – 49 ($111 for those aged 50 – 59). For those over 60, you can still get coverage, but you would have to call in for a quote since your medical history may factor into the cost. 10-day travel plans are also available at a reduced price for all age ranges. In addition, all dependent children get full coverage at no additional cost when you purchase a family plan (two adult plans).

Annual travel medical plans are not expensive. Quite often, an annual plan will cost you less than two single trip plans. If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

Not reading up on local customs

What may be socially acceptable in your home country may be considered rude in others which is why you really need to do some research before you depart. Putting your chopsticks in your rice is considered quite rude in Japan while insulting the king could land you in jail in Thailand. There are even trivial things that could make a difference abroad such as how much you should tip and who you should greet first in a business setting. Always take the time to look up local customs, it’ll make you a better traveller.

Travelling when you can’t afford it

I really shouldn’t have to explain this, but it’s incredible how many people travel when they can’t afford it. I suppose the definition of “can’t afford it” differs by person, but if you need to put all your travels on your credit card with no plan to pay it all off when you immediately return, then you can’t afford it. I’m not sure if it’s a fear of missing out or if you’ve convinced yourself it’s a deal because you found cheap airfare, but going into debt for a vacation is never worth it.

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi

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