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The Top 7 DIY Travel Planning Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Next Vacation

anonymous tourists showing us passports on street on sunny day

Planning your own DIY vacation can be stressful and overwhelming for most people.

There are so many things to remember when planning a trip DIY style – from passports and visas, to insurance & documentation. It’s easy to make a mistake that can ruin your whole vacation.

We don’t want you to make the same mistakes that we’ve seen so many travelers make over the years.  From a bride who missed her honeymoon to a husband that got his wife’s birthday wrong, these mistakes will make you think twice before booking your next vacation without a travel agent.

Here Are the Top 7 DIY Travel Planning Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Next Vacation:

1. Not Checking the Expiration Date on Your Passport

Did you know that many countries require that your passport be valid for 6 months past the date of your return HOME from destination? That means if you’re returning home on January 1, your passport will need to be valid through at least July 1 in order for you to board the airplane. Yes, a FULL 6 months.

If you’re traveling to a country with this requirement and your passport expires sooner than 6 months from your return date, you will need to renew it ASAP when planning your vacation. Renewals can often take up to 6-8 weeks but can sometimes take months, so don’t procrastinate!

2. Not Getting Travel Insurance

One of the most common mistakes people make when planning a trip is not getting travel insurance. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, travel insurance can actually save you a lot of money if something goes wrong on your trip.

For example, if  you have to cancel your trip due to an illness or emergency, travel insurance may reimburse you for any non-refundable expenses.

It may also cover you in the event that you lose your luggage, have a delayed flight, or need to be airlifted home in the case of an accident.

Did you know that most foreign hospitals will not accept your health insurance and that you’ll need to pay for medical care with cash up front? Yes, even if you are “covered” by your policy, you may need to pay out of pocket and then submit it for reimbursement when you get home. And who wants that hassle…

No one ever wants to think about the worst happening on their vacation, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

3. Not Booking with Exact Names

Depending on where you’re traveling to, it’s important that you use the EXACT name that is on your passport when booking flights, hotels, etc.

For example, if your passport says “John Smith Jr.”, but you normally go by “Jack”, you will need to book everything in the name “John Smith Jr.”. If you don’t, it could cause problems when you go to check-in for your flight or check into your hotel.

Can you imagine getting to the airport and not being able to convince them that you’re YOU? And unfortunately, most of the time you won’t be reimbursed for those mistakes.

4. Overlooking Luggage Limits & Fees

One of the biggest mistakes travelers make when booking trips that “fit into their budget” is forgetting to factor in the cost of checked baggage fees.

Most airlines now charge for at least one piece of checked luggage, with some charging for carry-on bags as well. If you’re not careful, these fees can add up quickly and take a big chunk out of your travel budget.

Just think about how it may cost for a family of 4 to each have their own checked luggage. At up to $100 round-trip per bag, that’s an extra $400!

To avoid any surprises, make sure to familiarize yourself with your airline’s luggage policies and fees before you book your flight.

5. Not Reading the “Fine Print” when Booking

This one can definitely come back to haunt you if you’re not careful. Imagine finding a “great deal” on a hotel or rental car, and you book it without reading the reviews or taking the time to understand the terms and conditions.

Only to get there and realize that the “great deal” doesn’t include the daily breakfast, parking fees, daily hotel taxes, resort fees or the rental car insurance and unlimited mileage.

To avoid these not-so-great surprises, take the time to read all the details before you book anything for your trip.

And remember, a good travel agent will have all of these costs laid out for you before you book – that way you know exactly what you’re getting!

6. Not Checking Time Zones & Locations

When traveling to a different time zone, it’s important to take into account how that will affect your schedule. If you’re not careful, you could easily end up missing a flight or tour because you miscalculated the time change.

To avoid any stressful surprises, be sure to double check the time difference before you book your flights and make a note of it in your calendar.

Note that when purchasing airline tickets, the time listed will be in the time zone the flight is located, not necessarily the time zone you are leaving from. Be sure to check the time when you land so that you don’t miss any connecting flights!

7. Not Making Copies of Important Documents

Before you leave on your trip, be sure to make copies of all of your important documents, such as your passport, driver’s license, and travel insurance policy.

 Keep one copy with you in your carry-on bag and leave another at home with a trusted friend or family member.

This way, if you lose your documents while on vacation, you’ll have a backup and won’t have to start from scratch.

Note that Wi-Fi and mobile service are not always readily in different destinations. If your documents aren’t printed out, you risk not being able to access them when you need to.


When planning your next trip, avoid making these common mistakes and you’ll be sure to have a stress-free vacation!

And if you want a professional to help you like me at Love of The Magic Vacations, we can help you plan and book your entire trip – from start to finish! All you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy your vacation! Just click below to request a call or an email!

Contact me “Windy Dockum” for a free quote!

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