Here are the most common travel mistakes or myths among travelers.
The last minute deals offer the best discounts
This used to be true, but nowadays this truth fades away. You may get some good discounts booking your travel the last minute, but you have to be flexible on travel dates or travel destination because of availability and destination popularity. Never wait until the last minute when booking travel for holidays. This is the busiest travel time (including Fridays during summer months) when flights and hotels get booked the most.
The more you pay, the better seat you’ll get on a plane
Not quite true, unless you buy a business or first class ticket. You may pay $200 for a coach class ticket and sit next to a person who paid $1,500 for a ticket. All depends on availability, when you buy a ticket, and how restricted you want a ticket to be.
Driver’s license is sufficient for travel
This may be true only when traveling within the US (residents only) or European countries (residents only); a valid personal ID like a driver’s license might be sufficient. In other cases you always need a passport or an equivalent ID to travel outside the United States or other country you reside in and all over the world.
Note, if traveling internationally, you may also need a visa or a tourist card. Contact a Consulate or an Embassy to check the travel requirements for a specific country or check Bureau of Consular Affairs web page .
Book seats when you check-in at the airport
Do not wait until the last minute to reserve your seats on the plane. Book your seats as much in advance as possible. If your flight gets oversold and you do not have a confirmed seat number, you are most likely to be the first one to be bumped off the flight even if you have a ticket. If you cannot get the seats you want at the time of booking your flight, take whatever seats are available, arrive early to the airport and ask an agent to change the seats. You can also assign the seats yourself.
Read more on Overbooking and Pre-assigned seats here.
It is better to use frequent traveler miles or points than real money
Not always. If you use miles or points for your trip, you would still need to spend some money and pay for airport taxes/ fees. If traveling within USA or within Europe, it is best to actually buy tickets for money as you’ll get much better deals.
In fact, you would probably need to spend $10,000- $20,000 on travel reward credit cards or take 10-20 flights in order to earn 25,000-30,000 miles to pay for your “free” ticket and twice as much for a transatlantic or transpacific flight. In addition, airlines have only few seats on the plane available to be used for miles or points. So, always do your research and see if it worth paying for you flight with real money or travel miles or points.
Infants or children under 2 year of age travel free
This is usually the case for the US domestic flights, but never on international flights. When traveling outside the US, in most cases, you will be asked to buy a ticket for an infant (child under 2 years) with no seat and pay 10% of the full adult’s fare plus airport taxes/fees or just airport taxes/ fees.
Note, airlines allow only 2 infants per adult. If one adult travels with 2 infants, airlines may also require you to buy a seat for the 2nd infant; a child’s ticket under 12years old with a seat usually costs around 60-80% of the adult’s fare.
Packages offer the best value
It can definitely be more effective way of making your travel arrangements, but not always the cheapest option. The only way you can know if you get a good deal is if you know the cost of each travel component. This may come to you as a surprise, but when you see the breakdown of your travel cost, in most cases you will see higher prices. It can be a little more work to book your travel separately, but you can save more money by searching for best deals separately on flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc.
Airline will contact me if there is a schedule change
Some airlines used to do this if you provided a correct e-mail address or phone number. But this is no longer the case. Therefore, you should recheck your travel times if you book way in advance and always reconfirm your flight 24-48 hours before the departure. This way you will be aware of any changes to your flight schedule.
Cancellation or Delay of the flight entitles you for compensation
If flight delays are caused by “force majeure” conditions (e.g. weather, flooding, calamities) that are not caused by a human, you will not get any kind of compensation. An airline may offer some kind of compensation if the delay or cancellation is due to the airline’s fault (e.g. mechanical problems, overbooking, etc.).
General rule is to always contact the airline for further instructions, especially if airport closure or delays are due to the weather conditions. Agents will assist you with rebooking and changing your flights.
Read more on Overbooking and Compensation here.
Airport duty-free shops always offer the best bargain
This is a 100 year old myth. Duty-free shops make huge profits because of this misconception. Travelers think they are getting best deals at the duty-free shops, but the reality is that this is not always true. You may notice that some airports may have better deals like Hong Kong or New York, but you may pay quite a bit more for the goods if purchased at the duty-free shops in Moscow. So always do your homework and know the “real” cost of an item you want to purchase at the duty-free shops.