Oops, wrong city! Stupid travel mistakes and how to avoid them

Pay attention.

If you do, you won’t end up like Allan Jordan, who showed up for a recent Virgin Atlantic Airways flight from New York to London, only to discover he’d overlooked a small but important detail.

“The woman at the ticket counter very politely welcomed me, looked down at my ticket and said, ‘Mr. Jordan, you are flying to London tomorrow. How can I help you?’ ” he remembers.

Jordan is no newbie. As a consultant based in Great Neck, N.Y., he travels constantly. He knew better.

That’s the thing about travel errors. You don’t have to be an occasional traveler to screw up. It can happen to anyone. This is a good time to think about travel troubles, before your next big vacation or business trip.

Jordan was lucky. A sympathetic supervisor rebooked him on that day’s London flight at no extra charge. “She was very kind,” he says.

Lesson learned? Double-check your dates before you leave.

When I say no one is immune to errors, I include myself. A few weeks ago, I gave my travel agent, Melissa, the weekend off and went DIY. I booked a room at a hotel in Portland, my next stop on a West Coast road trip. When I tried to check in, the hotel had never heard of me. Turns out I’d booked a room in Portland, Maine, instead of Portland Oregon. Oops.

Lesson learned? Work with a travel agent.

I’m in good company. Your travel mistakes are great learning opportunities, too.

You say 10/11, I say 11/10

Taylor Ann Giardina has spent years traveling around the world but keeps getting tripped up by date formats. In the USA, we would write Oct. 11 as 10/11/17; in the rest of the world, it’s 11/10/17. Confuse that, and you could reserve a room or flight on the wrong day. “I once missed a flight, thinking it was the day afterwards, because I misread the reservation written in the European format — day/month/year,” says Giardina, an interior designer from Austin. “Being an experienced traveler, I was overconfident that I had read it correctly and didn’t double-check my dates.” Lesson: Don’t assume anything.

If it looks too good to be true…

That’s what Kris Morton discovered when her mother found the perfect car rental in Iceland this year for the bargain price of $400 a week. “Everything was perfect until we returned it before our flight home,” says Morton, a writer who lives in Detroit. “We thought we had already paid for the whole rental, but they said we’d only paid for one day. My mom dug out her confirmation email, and to our horror, realized that the rental agents were right. She had somehow only booked the car for one day.” Morton ended up paying another $900 for her SUV. The takeaway: You can’t rent an SUV in Iceland for $400 a week.

Trust, but verify

Mapping applications from Google and Apple are so helpful, except when they aren’t. Andy Abramson, who runs a communication consulting firm in Los Angeles, discovered that on a recent winery tour in France. “In some of the more rural parts, where wineries normally are located, Google Maps will give you a few options, but not all are really roads to take a car on,” he says. “On more than a few occasions, Google has taken me on roads best driven in a 4×4 — or taken on horseback.” The lesson: Never completely trust anyone or anything, even Google.

Notice a theme? No matter the mistake, there’s usually someone on the other end making an incorrect assumption about times, dates, places and prices. You think you know something, but you really don’t.

The fix is simple: Pay attention. Double-check the details of your next trip, or hire someone who can. Otherwise, you’ll end up as an anecdote in one of my travel columns.

Three more timing mistakes you should avoid

• Paying attention to the time, not day. This is particularly important on international flights with long connections. Notice both the time and day when you’re booking. Some stopovers can be lengthy, and that “+1 day” is easy to overlook, As a result, you could be stuck at the airport for more than 24 hours waiting for your connecting flight.

• No flight information on your rental car. Always share your flight number when you book a rental car at the airport. If your flight is late, your car rental company may hold your reservation as a courtesy. Otherwise, they’ll cancel your reservation and ask you to make a new booking, almost always at a higher rate.

• Check-in and checkout dates in hotels. This is an easy mistake to make. You’ll always check in one day and check out after you’ve overnighted, on the next day. Travelers constantly confuse their check-in and checkout dates, shorting themselves by a day. An experienced travel pro can help prevent this.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirportParkingReservations.com

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at AirportParkingReservations.com, ParkSleepFly.com, AirportParking.com, and ShuttleFinder.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by G1G.com

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend