Travel Agents Reveal the Biggest Mistakes You’re Making When Planning Your Vacation

With the prevalence of online shopping, it’s rare these days to physically go to a travel agent’s office to schedule your vacation getaway. But just because you’re doing your own internet research, it doesn’t mean you have to forgo professional advice. Travel agents with years of experience see the mistakes people keep making and have some excellent advice on how to avoid them.

Whether you’re heading to a tropical paradiseor a cabin in the woods, read on to discover the things you shouldn’t do when planning a vacation.

1. Asking for a room with a view

House at beach

A room wit ha view comes with the price to match. | Terng99/iStock/Getty Images

Waking up to a gorgeous view every morning may be idyllic, but when it comes to cutting costs, “room with a view” should be the first thing to go. As travel agent Shay Harrington explained to Thrillist, “We only spend so much time in our rooms while traveling, and at night it’s too dark to see most views. If a view is really important, go with the partial view instead. It’s still a big money saver and you get the best of both worlds.”

Next: Don’t pay for this one thing you can get for free.

2. Overpaying for tours

Tour guide speaking to group in front of blue door

Tours are expensive. | ablokhin/iStock/Getty Images

Visiting a big city? Often they’ll offer free tours or other activities for tourists. Before you shell out cash for a private jaunt around the city, search for “free things to do” and plan accordingly.

Next: Never sacrifice this detail.

3. Choosing a longer stay at a cheaper place

Nassau, Bahamas

Enjoy your shorter stay more with a dreamy resort. | poladamonte/Getty Images

If you have your heart set on a certain location but it’s out of your budget, consider going for fewer days rather than picking a cheaper place. You’re better off going to the place you really want for a shorter stay than sacrificing the location of your dreams.

As Harrington says, “Of course, we want to get the max out of our vacation time, but if it’s the choice between getting exactly what we want and going over budget, it’s always worth considering dropping one day. Plus, it gives you time to relax at home before diving back into real life.”

Next: Wasting money on this is unnecessary.

4. Buying every meal

That adds up quick. | iStock/Getty Images

Going out to eat for every meal can add up quickly and leaves less room in the budget for excursions and souvenirs. Be sure to plan at least one nice dinner out, but other than that it’s smart to bring your own beverages and snacks — especially at the airport.

Next: There may be hidden discounts here you never knew about.

5. Forgetting to check credit card offers

hands holding a fan of credit cards

You should see what perks you get. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Whether it’s air miles, hotel upgrades, or other freebies, your credit card rewards can help make your trip extra sweet. Plan your vacation around the rewards you can get free of charge to get the best — and cheapest — experience.

Next: Altering your plans slightly can save you a lot of money.

6. Traveling during peak times

passenger airplane landing above small island

Don’t head there during peak times. | Airubon/iStock/Getty Images

Having a little flexibility with your trip can pay off big-time. Travel agent Sarah Nelson Wandry says, “Be flexible with your travel dates. This might be as simple as traveling on a Tuesday instead of Sunday. Also, planning travel around the ‘shoulder’ season of the destination could make thousands of dollars of a difference, depending on the destination.”

Next: Smart travelers always do this one thing.

7. Forgetting to make a packing list

Travel concept on wooden table

Keep track of everything you’re going to need. | seb_ra/iStock/Getty Images

Even if you have an excellent memory, it’s easy to neglect to pack something obvious and then overpay for it when you reach your destination. Keep a running list of what you need to bring and check it before you leave to ensure you’re not wasting precious time hunting down sunscreen or bug spray.

Next: This person can help, regardless of your budget.

8. Thinking travel agents are only for rich people

Female travel agent

They could score you upgrades. | Comstock Images/iStock/Getty Images

All budget ranges can benefit from a travel agent’s expertise — they’re often the ones with an inside track on the best hidden gems. Plus, they can sometimes use their connections to score clients upgrades, activity vouchers, and other perks you won’t find on those online booking sites.

Next: This provides major peace of mind.

9. Skipping travel insurance

MSC Musica cruise ship approaching the port in Kotor

It’s better to get insurance just in case. | Makinwa/iStock/Getty Images

Hurricanes, illnesses, and a million other last-minute emergencies can happen, and when they do, you won’t want to be stuck paying for a trip you never got to take. Paying the small upcharge for travel insurance is the best way to avoid getting stuck with a huge bill when you have to cancel your vacation.

Next: You might be spending more on this than you realize.

10. Ignoring hidden fees

man and woman enjoying retirement at a beach

Remember to check the fine print. | iStock/Getty Images

The price advertised on the website rarely tells the whole story. Be sure to check the fine print before you book your vacation and account for all those extra fees when you’re making a budget.

Next: Whether you go there or not, it’s important to know about these places.

11. Forgetting to check the travel ban list

Airplane boarding passes, passport, travel, map

Make sure it’s safe to travel. | iStock/Getty Images

Super cautious? You’ll want to check out the U.S. Passports and International Travel Warnings and Alerts to make sure your intended destination is safe before you book your trip. But if you’re feeling a little adventurous, it doesn’t hurt to check out some of the moderate risk places on the list. Chances are you can score great deals on those locations.

Next: This isn’t always the cheapest route.

12. Assuming a packaged deal is the cheapest option

Beautiful girls enjoying vacation and drinking cocktails

All inclusive isn’t always the best deal. |

All-inclusive resorts may seem like the best deal, but it’s worth pricing out how much you’d spend skipping the packaged deal and choosing a la carte options. If you’re not a big drinker or you don’t typically eat three huge meals per day, an all-inclusive might cost more than you’d pay just ordering food and drinks when you feel like it.

Next: Plan for this in advance.

13. Not checking currency deals

various currencies

Exchange when the dollar is strong. | -goldy-/iStock/Getty Images

Plan in advance so you can exchange your currency when the dollar is strong. You’ll want to change your money where it’s cheapest, which might be before you leave or when you arrive, depending on where you’re traveling.

Next: Limit your bags.

14. Packing too much

Planning vacation with map

Don’t overpack. |

Any time you can avoid checking your bag — do it. Do you really need to bring 20 dresses for a weeklong trip? Roll your clothing, pack less, and try your best to limit the number of bags you bring to save time and money.

Next: This is the best way to save on airfare.

15. Forgetting to clear your cookies

businessman sitting in front of laptop screen

Delete your cookies to get the best deal. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images

Some companies use cookies to track your searches and create dynamic pricing based on what you’re searching, which could end up costing you. Either remember to clear your cookies after each browsing session or turn on private browsing to get the best deals on hotels and airfare.

Read more: Experts Say This is the Most Popular Place to Visit in 2018

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