For over a decade of traveling I have made almost every mistake possible. I have also witnessed countless travelers make mistakes that have ruined the trip of a lifetime. In an effort to help others learn from these mistakes, they’re written out below.
- You do not activate the PIN on your credit card. The US is one of the few places in the word that do not require a PIN to use your credit card. Yes, that’s right. Credit card (not, debt card). In many places in Italy, especially the train stations, a PIN is required to make credit card purchases. Each credit card has one, but you must activate it by calling your credit card company. You receive it in the mail in about ten days or so. It’s a must before you travel.
- You exchange money at the airport. Use your debt card to make withdrawals from an ATM once you’re in country instead of exchanging the bulk of your cash, or purchasing a travelers check. Most exchange kiosks tack on a 10% or more fee to each transaction. It’s not worth it.
- You stop in the middle of the worst places. Most people will stop to formulate their game plan right in the middle of a major thorough fair or walk way – clogging up foot traffic. It frustrates other travelers who know where they’re going, and puts a target on your back for pick-pockets and thieves. Please move to the side (away from walk ways) when you formulate your game plan.
- You use your US cell phone in a foreign country. Most people will activate their cell phone to be used in a foreign country. It often cost less to purchase an SIM card from a local (Italian) provider; WIND, Vodafone, 3 (Tre), or others, than active an international plan for a month. Often times your smart phone (unless it’s an iPhone) can be unlocked for free, and you can swap out the SIMs. It might be a cheaper option.
- You believe everyone speaks english. Too many travelers bet on using their english to get them by. I tell everyone to learn ten phases. It could be the difference between receiving the local price and the tourist price for any item. It makes you more credible in the eyes of the locals.
Question of the day: What is the biggest mistake you have made while traveling?
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