When it comes to air travel, so many things can go wrong. Sometimes we create the problems ourselves by doing such things as packing carelessly (resulting in extra luggage fees) or scheduling a too-tight connection (resulting in a missed flight). Below are some common air travel mistakes — and tips on how to avoid them.
1. Not allowing enough time for connections
It’s a miserable feeling to be in transit on a delayed plane, knowing that when you land you will have missed the next flight and will have to scramble to make alternate arrangements — arrangements that might also warrant an overnight hotel stay.
How to avoid: Allow — or insist on, if the airline books it — at least 90 minutes between connecting flights; some experts recommend two hours.
2. Not doing your packing homework
Planning to fly with carry-on luggage only? Size limitations vary by airline and type of aircraft. And, yes, Hawaii should be beautiful in June, but will there be rain? What about the temperatures at night? Will you need a jacket or wrap?
How to avoid: Check the daily forecast in your destination and look on your airline’s website for luggage information; while checking carry-on dimensions, look into what it will cost to check bags, including weight limitations and the fees for exceeding them.
3. Not preparing for your arrival
Do you know where your accommodations are in relation to the airport? Do you know what your transportation options are and what getting to your hotel will cost?
How to avoid: Determine your hotel’s proximity to the airport. Is it a five-minute cab ride or a 50-minute endeavor? What’s the going rate for cab fare? Are fares fixed or metered, or do you have to agree on a price with the driver before heading out? You should also find and price out at least one other mode of transportation to the hotel; shuttles are often available.
4. Not checking immigration requirements
There are still a good number of countries (Russia and Brazil, for instance) that require a visa for entry, and many countries require that your passport be valid for at least six months from the date of your entry. Still other countries require that there be a blank page in your passport for their stamps — in some instances, even the location of this page matters (for example, it might need to be the last page).
How to avoid: Well in advance of your trip, contact the embassy or consulate of your destination country and determine its immigration requirements.
5. Paying high credit card foreign transaction fees
With some cards, both the credit card company and the issuing bank charge foreign transaction fees. In addition, there are fees for having charges automatically converted to U.S. dollars at the point of purchase (called “dynamic currency conversion”). These fees add up quickly.
How to avoid: Read the small print on your credit card agreement to determine what fees are charged. If there are multiple fees or the percentages are high, shop around for a card with better terms. When charging items abroad, be sure to ask those you are paying to make charges in the local currency.