When traveling internationally, the following are common, but easily avoidable mistakes.
1. Packing essentials in checked luggage. This means medicine, cash, laptop chargers (and laptops), valuable jewelry, anything you really can’t afford to lose or be without.
Locking your luggage isn’t a solution, since in the short run, just having a bag misplaced can cause as many problems as having things stolen.
2. Not having ANY currency for the country into which you are flying. Yes, most airport money changers charge high fees, along with other U.S. currency exchangers. But while airport shops may accept any currency, and some countries accept U.S. dollars, many do not. Especially at smaller shops or restaurants.
If you don’t know for a fact that your dollars will be accepted, get a small amount of foreign currency. At least this will mean you can get a snack, cab ride, or make a small purchase at, say, a drugstore, if an ATM is not readily available. A few dollars worth of local currency can be a lifesaver until you arrive at your hotel.
3. Not making a copy of your passport. This takes only a minute, and usually isn’t an issue. But it only takes misplacing or losing it once to change all that. While you’re making a copy, check the expiration date. (This last potential mistake happens more often than you might think.)
4. If you’re in a country that doesn’t use a Western alphabet, not having your hotel name written on a card or a piece of paper. English may be one of the most common languages in the world, but that won’t help if you find a taxi driver who doesn’t speak it, or if you just get lost and need directions back to your hotel.
5. Make sure itinerary dates match. On an itinerary where you have done air and hotels separately, spend a couple minutes making sure the dates match. Especially where overnight flights are involved. It’s bad enough to arrive at a hotel a day earlier than your reservation, it’s much worse to arrive a day late.