Like with most things in life, it is the unforeseen and the unexpected that can throw a wrench in your plans. With travel, we tend to lose touch with reality, believing that no harm could possibly cross our vacations. However, when your passport is denied boarding because it expires soon (or you come down with the norovirus on a sailboat in the middle of nowhere and have no medicine with you), you’ll quickly realize that you may have just spent all that money and used up all that vacation time… for a ruined trip. Yikes! The good news is that you can save your skin if something goes wrong by doing a few simple things that don’t cost money or require a ton of effort.

Notify Your Bank and Credit Card Companies of Your Travel Plans

A vacation can quickly head south when you find that you can’t pay for anything because your card gets declined. Banks and credit card companies will shut down your account if they suspect fraud. If you travel without setting a travel notification for cards you use, you could be denied every time you swipe. To avoid banking hiccups, be sure you notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans. It only takes a few minutes and it can save those frantic and often costly phone calls to your bank while traveling.

Check the Expiration Dates on Your IDs and Passports

Your passport is set to expire in a month so you think you are good to go for your trip to France in a week. Your trip will quickly arrive in disaster town when you get to the airport and are denied boarding. In general, you want to travel with a passport that has at least six months of validity. If you don’t, you could face added expenses and travel disruptions. Most countries require your passport to be valid for at least three months. Do yourself a favor and when you book your ticket, take a look at your passport. If it expires soon, you’ll have time to renew.

Confirm All Reservations Before Travel

You’ve been traveling over 30 hours to get to your destination, only to discover you booked your hotel for the wrong dates. You can quickly have nowhere to go and a pretty dismal vacation from the get-go. Travelers shouldn’t just check their email confirmations for dates but also click through to the actual websites of the reservation. A computer glitch could leave you without that car rental you thought you booked.

Turn off Your Data Roaming Before You Land Abroad

If you plan on traveling internationally, leaving your data roaming on will cost you a small fortune when you get home and in the process leave a bitter taste in your mouth about that vacation. Before you take off or land abroad, be sure your data roaming has been turned off unless you purchased an international data plan.

Pack Light

All travel advice seems to urge travelers to pack light. You probably seldom think your over-packing will lead to vacation meltdown but it can. Showing up with too much luggage can lead to baggage fees you didn’t anticipate and very tired arms when you have to lug too many suitcases around a city. Packing light will always alleviate additional stress and fatigue from vacation.

Wash Your Hands Constantly and Bring a Medical Kit

Perhaps nothing can ruin a trip more than getting sick. If you have ever come down with a bug while traveling, you know how awful it can feel and just how miserable it can make your trip. Instead, you should always err on the side of caution. Talk with your doctor and assemble a medical kit for travel. In addition to having medicines on hand just in case you should come down with something, travelers should get obsessive about hand washing while traveling. It’s a simple act that can save you from getting sick in the first place.

Have you ever had a trip from hell? What would you advise other travelers do in preparation to avoid those ruined trips? Share your tips with us in comments below.

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About The Author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at