Travel Tips



Travel Mistakes Smart People Make
By Susan Farewell

Illustration by Chris Murphy

travel designers. top travel agents

Chris Murphy

One of my clients is the editor of a top US metropolitan area newspaper. Wicked smart. Fast thinking. Super resourceful. Very well traveled.

But inevitably, when he volunteers to handle parts of his family vacation on his own, he winds up telling me horror stories of what happened.

Here are the most common travel mistakes we’ve seen smart people make when planning trips.

Plan too late. A month before the holidays is no time to start making travel arrangements. While there may be the chance cancellation (and in some cases, great savings), the more common scenario is the client winds up overpaying for accommodations (“Only the penthouse is available”) and taking unpleasant connecting flights (4 hours in the Miami airport) or worse, sitting in a back row seat in economy for an 8-hour flight.

Book complicated flights for savings. Booking that inexpensive flight to and from Rome may at first seem to be a great savings. But how are you going to get to FCO airport by 7 am if you are staying on the Amalfi Coast? Inevitably, we have to book airport hotels for these do-it-yourself bookings, bringing the price up and adding the inconvenience of another hotel check-in/check-out.

Ruin trips over points and miles. While we all love to get free stuff, I’ve seen some people seriously destroy their trips over points/miles. Because the hotel is “free,” they’ll want to stay there--no matter how far it is from where they really want to be (both geographically and aesthetically). I’ve had clients tell me they felt like they were in Cleveland when they were in Paris or Florence, because they stayed at a hotel utilizing their points.

Waste time shopping for best hotel deal. We all know someone who got caught up in trying to find the cheapest price for their room. In the end, they may save $14 a night, but they’ve spent five evenings of their own time doing so. And worse…once they arrive and discover their room is over a noisy cafe, there’s no way to change it.

Save money, but pay with aggravation. When I arrive in new destination, I like to see my name on a sign in the airport and be taken to my hotel. It’s a little luxury that goes a long way and is really nice, especially when I'm exhausted. Some people leave it more to chance, assuming taxis are cheaper than pre-arranged drivers. The rip-offs come in all varieties--the broken meter, the round-about route that doubles the time and distance, the language barrier resulting in the wrong hotel or the wrong side of town. Of course, with Uber, there may be better options but don’t assume you can navigate airport traffic flows in a foreign country or that your mobile device will cooperate with the local networks.

Go for the seemingly simple options online. While it may be tempting to add this tour and that tour to your “shopping cart” on a travel website, I’ve heard many a disaster story come out of this. They come in all forms—the company closed, the guides were not certified, the drivers were not professional.

Mess up on some small, but critical details. So the last time you went to Europe, you found yourselves saying things like "Why didn't we get tickets in advance?" "We're going to have to come back." "If only we had known." "It's a shame we didn't get to see..."

Not learn from mistakes. With all of the above experiences, you would think a smart traveler would change their ways. Not necessarily. Time tends to dull the memories and we’ve seen people time again make the same mistakes.

Thinking they can do it all.
You may be able to do a lot of exceptional things yourself. Maybe you’re able to teach your kids the piano or build a treehouse that sleeps four. But if you’re really smart, you have figured out the best way to have things done right and in a timely fashion is to bring in the pros. No where does this apply more than in organizing travel.


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