six travel mistakes to avoid

Cliffs of Moher (c) 2019 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Inexperienced travelers frequently make foolish travel mistakes when planning a trip. I am highlighting six of the worst travel mistakes mentioned in a recent article in USA Today.

(1) Declining travel insurance for expensive international trips. Even if you have NOT made any non-refundable deposits, purchasing $500 of trip cancellation per person is inexpensive and offers important protections. Top of the list: primary medical coverage while out of the country. If you're a US-based senior citizen, Medicare does NOT cover you outside the U.S., but Travelex Basic or Select offers primary medical insurance. Because the coverage is primary, you won't have to bother getting your claim rejected by Medicare before the insurance company will pay you (which is the case if your policy provides only secondary medical coverage). Note: rely only on the insurance carrier's own employees for authoritative and detailed explanations of a policy's coverage.

(2) Taking selfies in hazardous places. For instance, there's a rope to keep you safe when visiting Ireland's Cliffs of Moher (pictured above), but that doesn't stop some foolhardy tourists from venturing to the very edge of the cliff, risking injury or death. Risking your life is not worth 5 minutes of YouTube fame.

(3) Failing to check passport and visa requirements well in advance of the trip. Ensure that your passport has empty pages and is valid for at least six months beyond the end of the trip (as countries typically require). Check whether the country to which you are traveling requires acquiring a visa before you travel. Not all countries offer visa on entry.

(4) Arriving the day your cruise (or tour) departs. It simply makes no sense to risk being left behind at the port, scrambling to figure out how to catch up with the rest of the cruise or tour (at your own expense). Plan to arrive the day before your cruise or tour begins.

(5) Overscheduling your days. While many tourists have the idea that "doing Paris" means checking off a dozen items on a to-do list, I'm a firm believer in "less is more." Don't plan on six museums in one day; you can't possibly enjoy all of them, and you'll be exhausted. There's no reason to visit Versailles and Giverny on the same day; you'll be short-changing both. And don't waste a full day in Paris visiting Disney, of all things. Don't "do" Paris. "Experience" Paris by doing what Parisians do. Spend a leisurely hour sitting at a sidewalk cafe on a picturesque street just watching the life of the city unfold before you.

(6) Booking tight flight connections. Think you can make that 50-minute connection in Paris, London, or Frankfurt? Think again. Navigating an unfamiliar airport in a jet-lagged condition, waiting in passport lines, possibly going through security a second time, and generally not knowing where to go is NOT the way you want to begin your trip. I would want at least a 2-hour connection in all of these international airports. Consider a VIP meet-at-the-gate escort where available to fast-track you through immigration and get you to your next gate stress-free.

copyright (c) 2019 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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