Top five travel mistakes

Flying to the wrong place, having your luggage confiscated and ending up in quarantine...

Top five travel mistakes

Flying to the wrong place, having your luggage confiscated and ending up in quarantine are just some of the travel mistakes YOURLifeChoices can help you to avoid so that your holiday is as relaxing as possible.

Right time, wrong place

Booking a flight to the wrong place is probably the worst travel mistake you could make. And it’s easier to do than you might think. Falling victim to a ‘destination doppleganger’ – two cities with the same name in different countries – can really put a dampener on your holiday. For example there is a Paris in France and in Texas, USA, a Venice in Italy and in Louisana, USA  and a Perth in Australia and in Scotland. To avoid confusion each airport in the world has a unique three-letter ‘airport code’. Before you book your tickets use the World Airport Codes website to look up the correct airport code for your desired destination, and make sure it matches the flights you are thinking of purchasing.

Local customs

It is important to look up the local customs of your destination before you go. In Indonesia you should point with your thumb, as using a forefinger to point is considered very rude. In Japan it is rude to finish all the food on your plate, as it means your host has not provided enough, while in many countries it is rude not to finish everything you are given, as it is wasteful and suggests the food was not good enough. Knowing the local customs will help you to avoid offending the locals. Any good guide book will cover this sort of information, or you could start your research by looking it up in Google.

Airport customs

No matter which country you are entering or exiting, you will have to pass through customs. The first thing you can do to make this process easier is to arrive in plenty of time – this will be especially helpful if you get stuck in a long line. Check what you can and can’t take through customs in your destination country. Australia has some of the strictest customs laws in the world, so to find out what you can carry on and off the plane take a look at the Australian Customs Guide for Travellers.

Tip: if you have a little pocket knife attached to your car keys, leave it in the car before entering the airport. These will be confiscated, and you won’t be able to get them back.


Leaving your vaccinations too late, or not getting them at all, may mean that you can’t travel, or that you can’t re-enter Australia at the end of your holiday without going through quarantine. To find out which vaccinations you will need, and when you will need to get them, you can either talk to a travel doctor or you might like to visit the My Vaccination website for more immediate information.


We are all guilty of taking too much stuff when we travel. But a heavy suitcase can make your trip harder than it has to be, particularly when you realise that wheels are less than effective on stairs. Try picking clothes which you can mix and match, or restrict yourself to a smaller suitcase. If you can’t quite seem to cut it down then try watching this video on packing like a pro to discover the best way to fit an enormous amount of clothing into a tiny little backpack. 

Have your say

What’s the worst travel mistake you’ve ever made?


    To make a comment, please register or login
    5th May 2014
    I have always carried a 750ml refillable water bottle on international flights. I have carried it empty through the security screening. I then refill it with water to have on the plane.
    The last two times leaving Australia-no-problem even transitting Santiago,Chile.

    The last two times returning to Australia (Santiago and Hong Kong) there was a second inspection at the end of the airbridge there was another security check for the 100ml maximum and there were many discarded bottles. I drank all of mine to keep the bottle. The statement was made you could get water as often as you wanted on the plane. Clearly those telling you that don't fly economy!
    Happy cyclist
    5th May 2014
    No, Rachel, we are not ALL guilty of overpacking! I recently took carry-on for a 3 week holiday in Asia. You never lose your luggage if you only take carry-on and its amazing how little you need on a holiday--really just one change and a warm/rain jacket does it if you are staying in a reasonable hotel where you can wash things out each evening. They always dry in the air-con overnight.
    5th May 2014
    You are obviously not a female Happy Cyclist LOL!! When in Singapore recently I changed my blouse twice a day due to the extreme heat. A holiday for me means enjoying the food, the customs and also having a few changes of clothes especially when we go out to a nice restaurant for dinner. The thought of having one change of clothes does not excite me at all. I usually take a medium suitcase on wheels and a small carry bag and I have no problem looking after that. My case usually weight about 14 kilos at the most and hubby usually around 12kilos. Between us we more or less have the baggage allowance for one person.

    5th May 2014
    My biggest mistake was flying EgyptAir as part of a multi-carrier choice, when trying to get back to Perth from Athens.
    The EgyptAir plane was 3 hrs late, we missed our connecting flight on Qatar in Cairo, and EgyptAir just refused to assist us in any way.
    Being abandoned in Cairo airport all night during Ramadan, and during a violent uprising, is not something I want to repeat.
    The Egyptians just all go home at sundown to eat (because they haven't eaten or drunk anything all day), and they just close everything down.
    The Airport shuttle bus drove into a bus terminal halfway between the two airports at sundown, and the bus driver just turned the bus off and walked away, and left us abandoned in an empty terminal.
    All the airport airline offices were closed, and many didn't open again until 3:00AM.
    Then we had to contend with other Middle Easterners waving big wads of cash being served first, when it came to ticket issue.
    It cost us 1994 Egytians Pound to get our Qatar tickets re-issued - and that was only after all the Middle Easterners had been served.
    If I have to pay $2000 extra to avoid Egypt and EgyptAir at any time in the future, I will most certainly do so.
    I have also learnt that 5 hrs is the minimum you should allow between connecting flights, because 90% of flights today are running seriously late.
    5th May 2014
    I booked an internal European flight on Expedia last week. Within an hour of making the booking I realised I'd booked it a day early! Luckily I'd opted to include a small cancellation fee. I was able to cancel that flight and re-book for the correct day. Had I not taken the cancellation fee option it could have cost me around $100 or more for the airline concerned to change my flight. Even checking the calendar, it's an easy mistake to make!
    Thai Traveller
    5th May 2014
    My last travel mistake was to return back to Australia for a holiday with friends, bringing some of my computing gear with me..

    On arrival, Customs funneled me to an area where I was the only person, standing there waiting for them to finish searching the guy in front. I'd been flying 20 hours and a little tired and frayed, and didn't appreciate having to wait 20 minutes.

    Eventually I was told to put all my luggage on the counter, and asked if I had any Hard drives, USBs, cameras. The answer was YES to all of these, as I had a lot of files I wished to copy from my old computer. No questions about did I have a computer with me, or any drugs?

    So I handed over my e-book, camera and all the computing gear and waited - and waited. There was no word of explanation about what was going on, and eventually everything was handed back and told I could go.

    Yes, they were being efficient, and obviously already knew what I was carrying, but a bit of an explanation would be nice.

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