Travel can be enjoyable, but also overwhelming. Booking the tickets and accommodation, making sure you have all the necessary documents, planning what to do at the destination. With all those things and more on the plate, it is not difficult to make a mistake along the way.
In some cases, if not fixed beforehand, it can be a mistake that can either force you to cancel the whole trip or that can cost you a lot of money. Below are five things you should check right after booking your ticket, and also – just to be sure – shortly before you embark on a travel.
While doing so will not automatically turn your trip into a vacation of your dreams, at the very least it will ensure that you will actually get to depart!
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
1. Route and Dates
The very first thing to do after you book your flights – and a relatively easy one for that matter – is checking that you booked your flights for the correct dates and for the correct route.
Unless you’re flying to Sydney and you book a flight to Sydney instead, it is fairly difficult to book a flight for the wrong route. However, making a mistake with the dates of your flight is much easier than it seems.
As such, besides checking the actual dates (making sure you booked the flight for this year instead of the next, etc.), be especially careful about the following two cases:
- Departures past midnight – Make sure that if you book a flight departing on Saturday at 00:30AM, you will go to the airport on FRIDAY night.
- Arrival on a different day than the date of departure – Make sure that if you if you depart at 04:00PM on Saturday and your arrival time is 10:00AM+1, you will tell your friends to pick you up on SUNDAY. Similarly, be careful that you book your accommodation or any onwards travel for the right date.
2. Name on the Ticket
Luckily, so far I’ve avoided making the above mistake, although I know people that booked their connecting flights for the wrong date because of it. However, I’ve been guilty of making mistake number 2 twice.
Both times, it involved mixing up my first and last name. And, both times, I realized it when I couldn’t find the reservations using the booking code and my last name, but I could find it using the booking code and my first name.
In the end, the first time I had to pay a bit to fix it, while in the second case, Expedia was able to cancel and reissue my ticket as I noticed it within 24 hours of buying it. From what I’ve read around the Internet, there was a chance that I would have been allowed to travel without any issues even with the name reversed, but better safe than sorry!
Besides reversing your names, I also recommend you check it for any typos and so on – ideally right after booking, in which case you might be able to get the mistake fixed for free like I did in the Expedia case.
3. Visa Requirements
Once you are sure that you booked the correct ticket, you should check whether you need any visas or travel authorizations for your trip. While you should, of course, check the rules for your destination country, do not completely disregard your transfer points either.
In many cases, you will not need a visa to transfer at a “third-country” airport on your way from one country to another. However, sometimes you will.
One such example is a transfer through the United States. Regardless of the fact that you will be continuing on to another country, you will have to enter the United States once. So, before your next trip to the Caribbean via the US, make sure you have your ESTA!
And, talking about ESTA, make sure that even if you do not need a visa, there is no other travel authorization that you need to obtain before entering the country you are traveling to…
4. Passport Validity
Oftentimes, having a valid passport and a visa-free access to a country (or having visa) is not enough, though.
This was the reason a friend of mine missed his vacation to the Philippines. Knowing that he didn’t need visa to enter the country and that his passport was valid for the duration of his stay, he didn’t investigate further. However, a couple of days before his travel, he realized that to enter the Philippines, your passport needs to be valid at least 6 months AFTER your intended travel dates.
Of course, that was not enough time to get a new passport issued and his trip had to be cancelled.
Avoid this mistake by not assuming that as long as your passport is valid for the duration of your travel you are fine. Instead, check the passport validity requirements for the country you are about to visit.
5. Departure Airport & Terminal
Finally, when it’s time to leave your home, make sure you know where you are going!
Make sure that you are going to the right airport if your departure city has more than one. For example, you wouldn’t want to get to Haneda in Tokyo 2 hours before your flight just to realize that your flight is from Narita which is more than an hour away.
Once you know the airport you are going to, make sure you also know which terminal the flight you are about to take departs from. Transferring between terminals can involve anything from a short 5-minute walk or free shuttle bus ride all the way to a fairly long taxi ride.
In either case, you should stay on the safe side, and head to the right terminal from the beginning.
The above are certainly not the only things that you should be confirming before your trip.
However, at the same time they are some of the ones that are the most critical things to have in order to ensure stress free travel. And, they are also some of the ones that I’ve seen even seasoned travelers make mistakes with.
What are some other things that you think are some of the most critical things to check and confirm before taking a flight?