It’s not even a full month into 2018, and I’ve already taken over 10 flights! This is mainly because of long layovers and connections, but I’ve definitely spent a lot of time in airports in January. As a travel-blogger, you’d think I’d be an expert at this by now — but that is unfortunately not the case. I’ve made some pretty epic airport mistakes this month, and want to share my story to help people avoid them in the future.
1 ) Forgetting about needing “Proof On Onward Travel”
This is one of the biggest pains for me as I’m constantly booking one-way tickets! If you haven’t heard of this before, “proof of onward travel” is basically showing the airline check-in counter / immigration you already have a return ticket, or proof you’re leaving the country. This is a necessity for so many countries, and if you don’t have this – they won’t give you a boarding pass. I’ve had this happen to me several times, but luckily I was always able to book a cheap flight at the check-in counter, and managed to get on board.
For example, when I was flying from Amsterdam – Bangkok…EVA airways wouldn’t give me my boarding pass, so I pulled out my laptop, and booked a $40 ticket to Singapore. I ended up not even using that flight, so it was a complete waste of money — but it was a lesson learned for sure!
2 ) Checking your ESTA Validity
This is for ALL travelers who are planning to visit the U.S.A that aren’t Americans! You absolutely need to check know if your ESTA is still valid, because this can cause some serious problems! I personally think it’s ridiculous that you need to worry about this just to have a layover in the U.S.A, but that’s just the way it is. Make sure you apply and have a valid ESTA if coming to America!
3 ) Not weighing your bag at home
Are you an overpacker? Then you absolutely need to invest in one of those handy luggage scales! When I flew to Vietnam in December, my bag was 5lbs overweight (I had some heavy photography equipment packed), and they forced me to repack my bag, and add stuff into my carry on.
This is a classic travel mistake, and I’m sure most veteran travelers have experienced this in their lives! It’s a simple fix though – just purchase a compact luggage scale and make sure you’re underweight before checking in!
Bonus tip- if you’re bag is overweight, never pay the fee! Just repack your bag, and bring more stuff in your carryon bag!
4 ) Transit Visa Dilemmas
Have you done your research about the airports / countries you’re flying into? Well, just like the United States…there are many countries who have specific requirements.
For example – I booked a ticket to China recently that had a 27 hour layover! I didn’t mind though, because I figured it’d be cool to spend one day around Chengdu! I had always though that China has a 72-hour transit visa, but that visa is only granted at certain airports! During the check-in process, I was told I would overstay my visa, and they wouldn’t give me my boarding pass. I had to frantically book a ticket out China, and waste a ton of money.
So make sure you do your research, and know you’re travel eligibility in each country / airport.
5 ) Arriving at the wrong airport
Raise your hand if you’ve done this before!
I wish I could say I was smart enough to avoid this dumb mistake, but I guess it happens to the best of us. There are hundreds of cities around the world that have more than one airport, so make sure you always double-check which airport on your travel itinerary!
This happened to me in Paris, and thought I was flying out of Charles de Gaulle Airport, but had booked a ticket out of Orly Airport. Whoops!
6 ) Not having Travel Insurance
When I was a younger traveler, I honestly never booked travel-insurance! I just never wanted to spend the money because I was on a strict budget, but now I realize how dumb of a mistake that was!
What happens if they lost your baggage at the airport…? Are you prepared to cover the cost for everything? Well, if you have travel insurance – they will take great care of you!
I always book my insurance with World Nomads, and would highly recommend them to just about everyone :-)
7 ) Booking flights with rushed layovers
Don’t you hate feeling rushed / stressed out at airports…? I know I do!
You need to give yourself a little bit of time in between flights, especially if you know you’ll have to go through immigration at a layover!
For example – when I recently landed at LAX, I had to go through this massive immigration line, pick-up my bag, go through customs, and then go back up to the departure hall to check-into my flight to Panama City, Panama. All of these lines were super long, and I barely made my flight!
Do yourself a favor, and always book relaxed layovers!
8 ) Forgetting to empty your water bottle & bringing snacks
I always carry an empty water bottle through security, and try to have a few snack items in my carry on! Airport food / drink prices are absolutely atrocious, and I hate wasting money at these places! Plan ahead, empty your water bottle before security, and bring some food along with you!
9 ) Forgetting to ask about your seat assignment / possible upgrade
Who hates sitting in the middle? Yeah, just about everyone!
What do you think of these airport mistakes? Have you made any of these before, or are you an expert traveler?