By Marc Llewellyn
Cheap flights and cheap hotels are all well and good, but what if you miss your flight because you misread your ticket? Or you arrive at your destination and the taxi driver takes you to the wrong hotel in another part of town and expects you to pay the fare?
And what if you are loaded down with luggage, and your passport has gone missing and you haven’t got a photocopy of it, and you are racking up a huge phone bill trying to sort things out? Things can go wrong on holiday, but if you take note of this Skyscanner Australia guide your life could be easier.
As a professional travel writer I’ve managed to get packing down to a fine art. I have two suitcases, a small carry-on bag for summer and a medium winter one for those extra jumpers, fluffy socks and ski gear. Having a small bag means you can often put your luggage in the overhead locker on a flight. You get out of the airport quicker and you can save money because you don’t have to book a bag into the hold. If you book a hire car you can also get away with a smaller and cheaper vehicle.
Anyway, a big bag is heavy and a pain to travel with. So be brutal with your packing. You don’t need guidebooks – travel with an app on your phone instead. Pour shampoo into a small travel bottle. Take three changes of clothing and no more. Everything needs to be thin and as light as possible. And always note what you didn’t use, so that you can leave it out next time you travel.
Forgetting to check documents.
I fly with my wife and two kids twice a year to Europe. Last year we forgot to check our passports and realized a few days before our flight that my oldest son’s passport had expired. It cost us a lot of worry and money to get it renewed in time.
In the past I’ve turned up a day early for a flight to London, and a day late for a flight to Japan, because I didn’t check my air tickets properly. I’ve been stopped from entering a country too, because I had less than six months left on my passport – a lot of countries insist you need that long. I’ve also been stranded in Italy because I didn’t check my itinerary and my tour coach went without me. So, check, check and triple check.
LISTEN: The Mamamia Out Loud team debate an unwritten rule of plane etiquette. Post continues after audio.
Not being covered by travel insurance.
I always buy travel insurance, especially if flying to Europe or elsewhere outside Australia. I just don’t want to take the risk of getting seriously ill or losing everything. I check that my travel insurance covers the excess on hire cars, and I take out additional cover if I’m doing snow sports. Insurance cover is vital if you fly to the USA, because a medical bill can bankrupt you if you are hospitalised.
Not making copies of important documents.
Firstly, empty your wallet of everything you don’t need before you travel. Do you really need your Myer store card when you are visiting Hong Kong? Or all those credit and debit cards when you are travelling in Europe? Replacing things takes time and effort if you lose them. Importantly, take photocopies of your passport and driving licence. If you lose them, or they get stolen, you can save a lot of hassle if you need to replace them quickly.