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Everyone makes a mistake now and then, but most want to avoid the most common air travel mistakes. That’s because even one slip up can put the damper on an entire trip.

Mistakes are especially an issue for rookie flyers or those who need special assistance for their trip. That’s understandable. Airports are confusing places even for seasoned travelers. For the less experienced, they can seem next-to-impossible to figure out.

For people in that group, the following list offers some helpful tips. Every issue on the list ranks among the most common air travel mistakes. Knowledge is power. Hopefully, this knowledge will improve your next trip.

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The 7 Mistakes Many Travelers Make

Don’t feel bad if any of the below have happened to you. They truly are some of the most common air travel mistakes. Knowing how to get around them will make your next trip that much better.

Packing Incorrectly

When packing, less is more. It’s always smart to reduce what you bring to the smallest amount possible. If you can manage to only do carry-on, congratulations! However, a common mistake is to not ensure that your bag meets the airline’s standard for carry-on bags. Another related common mistake is not packing for the weather where you are going.

Tips: Check ahead with the airline to see what size bag they allow you to carry on the plane, and how many. Also, in the week leading up to the trip, make daily checks of the weather at your destination.

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Not Keeping Valuables With You

This is part of the packing issue, but worthy of a separate mention. If you bring items that have value to you on your trip, do not pack them in a bag you intend to check. Your mood will drop and your blood pressure rise when you find out your bag has not arrived and is, instead, on a flight to the other side of the country with your favorite necklace in it. 

Tips: Pack valuables in your carryon bag. Even better, unless you really need them for this trip, leave valuables safely secured back at home.

Not Planning Enough Time for Connections

Connecting flights are the reason people moan with frustration when their first flight is delayed and dash through airports to reach a gate. Missing a connecting flight (especially an international one) can lead to big delays. It also can make your travel schedule a disaster.

Tips: There’s no 100% guarantee you won’t miss a connection because some issues are out of your hands. However, you can reduce the risk by allowing at least 90 minutes to two hours to make a connection.

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Not Arriving Early Enough

Everyone has an opinion on this issue, but it continues to happen every day at airports around the world. If you arrive too late, you run the risk of not getting your bags checked or even missing the flight all together.

Tips: When you should arrive depends on the airport. Always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need at bigger airports – it’s better to wait than to feel the panic that comes with rushing to not miss a flight. Not to mention the disappointment of actually missing one. A rule of thumb is to arrive at the airport at least two hours before takeoff on a domestic flight and three hours for an international flight.

Not Preparing For Your Destination

Many first-time flyers make the common mistake of focusing so much on what they need to do to leave that they give little consideration to the nuts and bolts of what to do when they arrive.

Tips: Research ahead of time to find out your transportation options at your destination – for example, many hotels offer a free shuttle.

International Travel Checklist

Not Bringing Food

Airline food is well-known for being pricey and not so great. That’s a well-earned reputation. But getting stuck in the sky with no alternative has forced millions before you to try airline food. If you are a picky eater or even just kind of a picky eater, you want to take steps to avoid that situation.

Tips: If you have a flight that is long enough for a meal, pack your own sandwich and snacks. It’s perfectly fine to bring it onboard with your carry-on bag. You might also want to bring healthy snacks even on a short flight.

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Not Knowing Security Guidelines

This ranks not only among the common air travel mistakes, but also among the mistakes that will make other people at the airport resent you. Holding up a security line because you packed something that the Transportation Security Administration does not allow is high on everyone’s list of air travel no-nos.

Tips: The TSA website offers extensive information on what you can and cannot bring on an airplane. Make sure you are not packing one of the banned items. These seven issues rank among the most common air travel mistakes. It’s nothing to feel bad about it if you have made one (or two or three) – it’s something everyone does at least once. But by keeping them in mind as you prepare to travel, it can make your trip go much more smoothly.

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