How To Avoid The Most Common Family Travel Mistakes

by Claire Newell, Travel Best Bets

Even the most carefully planned trip can be riddled with problems, but with a little insider know-how you, can avoid making these common family travel mistakes.

Here are some of the challenges that often arise when booking your fun family getaway.

Mistake #1: Waiting too long to apply for or renew your passport.

Routine passport processing can take anywhere from 2 – 4 weeks, so I recommend that as soon as you start planning for your trip, check the dates on your passport, paying close attention to the expiry date.  If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately. You can pay for a ‘rush passport’ if you are in a pinch, but it will cost you about $110 in addition to the regular processing fees to speed up the process. Also, some countries require that your passport have at least 3 – 6 months left before your passport expiry date, and this timeline is counted starting from the last day of your visit to the country – not the first. It is common for people to accidentally calculate the validity from the date of entry, so make sure that you calculate using the correct dates!

Mistake #2: Not checking to see if other travel documents will be required.

Check if you require other travel documents or vaccines to travel before your departure date arrives, because sometimes, a passport may not be enough.  You may need a visa, proof of vaccinations, an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA), a notarized letter if only one parent is traveling with kids, and so on. Visit www.travel.gc.ca to find out all of the entry and exit requirements for the country you are visiting, and arrive at the airport fully prepared with your completed documents in hand.

Mistake #3: Not booking enough connection time between non-direct flights.

Speaking of not allowing enough time, another mistake I see is not booking enough connection time between flights. Leaving a window of at least one and a half hours between connecting flights will significantly drop your chances of missing your flight or having your luggage lost. You don’t want a delayed flight to delay your vacation time too!

Mistake #4: Booking accommodations without researching first.

Now one thing that I consistently tell travellers, is to do adequate research. I can’t emphasize this enough. When it comes to booking a hotel this is very important. One of the worst mistakes people make is underestimating the location of their hotel from the city center or where you want to spend the most time. This can cost you in unnecessary transfer costs or even a car rental if attractions are just too far. Even if the hotel is cheaper, you need to weigh in the hassle and added costs of having to travel back and forth to get where you want to go.

Mistake #5: Trying to cram too much into one trip.

Another travel mistake is trying to do too much in one trip. This can cause a lot of stress and burnout, and defeats the purpose of booking a holiday! Make a list of “musts” and “maybes” and go from there. Allow for some scheduling flexibility, and book in some time for rest too.

Mistake #6: Don’t get caught in the tourist traps.

And finally, wherever you are traveling, I highly recommend venturing off the beaten path. Avoid the ‘tourist trap’ excursions – they are expensive and not the way to get an authentic experience of the destination. Do your research online before you go, or ask for recommendations from your travel agent or friends who have explored the destination.

This story originally appeared in the WestCoast Families 2018 Family Travel & Adventure Guide.

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