a close-up of a check-in table

Sunday Reader Questions: Your biggest travel mistake?

When you travel a lot, you’re bound to make some mistakes. A curious reader asked me: what was your biggest travel mistake?

I’m pretty meticulous when I travel. I make detailed (though convoluted) travel itineraries, triple-check the information, and get a third party to read through it to make sure I’m not missing something. Unfortunately, on a trip to New Zealand, a glaring mistake was made.

I make one of these colourful itineraries for all my trips
I make one of these colourful itineraries for all my trips

I was in Christchurch, catching a flight on Jetstar to Auckland so I could catch my connecting flight on Virgin Australia to Los Angeles. I went to the machine to print off my boarding pass (oh why, oh why didn’t I check in online!?), and it gave me an error. No big deal. I go to the agent for help. She types in the PNR, and she can’t pull it up. What’s going on? Then, I look down at my booking confirmation in horror. It was July, and I booked my flight for June. I arrived for my flight a month late.

When I booked the flight, I spent less than $100 on two tickets. Even after begging and negotiating, I had to buy two walk-up fares. Luckily, Jetstar is a discount airline, and it only came to about $500 for the both of us, but it still came as a shock. Happily this didn’t happen for a longer, more expensive flight, that might have no award availability… I couldn’t possibly afford a walk-up fare for an intercontinental flight.

I must have made this mistake by just reading the ‘J’ and ‘U’ in the abbreviation for the month. JUN and JUL look pretty darn similar!

Moral of the story: no matter how much you triple-check and make beautiful itineraries, if you travel a lot, you will make a mistake. Make sure you have some means, be it insurance, a stock of award points, or sufficient funds to correct the mistake. Also, pay particular attention to how dates are listed. For example, some countries list dates as MM/DD/YYYY, whereas for others it’s DD/MM/YYYY… or in my case, read the entire abbreviation (duh!).

What was your biggest travel mistake? Leave a comment below. 


  1. Hi! Here’s my worst travel mistake:
    I recently traveled to Europe from Montreal, and everything went great… until it was time to go home. I was flying FLR to YUL with a 16 hours layover in ZRH. 3 hours before the first flight, I made my way to the main train station where I would catch a 20 min bus ride to Florence airport. Exactly where the bus I’m supposed to take should be, is another bus with ‘Airport Express’ written on it. Just to be sure, I asked the driver if he was going to the Florence airport and he said ‘yes, of course’. So I paid and we departed. After 20 minutes or so, I realize that 1) we’re on the highway, 2) I don’t recognize the surroundings 3) we don’t look like we’re anywhere near an airport! So, I go to the same driver and ask him where we are headed. And he says…Pisa airport!
    I did feel like panicking a bit but I kind of knew that somehow I would find a way out of this mess. I did have to buy a 260 euros flight to ZRH and pay for a hotel in Florence and pay for the hotel I was a no-show at in Zurich, but at least, I made it home without any more trouble after that. And I will be forever thankful to the Swiss Air counter agent that spend at least an hour trying to arrange that mess for me.

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