Rookie Travel Safety Mistakes You Can Avoid

How to avoid a simple mistake a long way from home

traveler wheeling luggage
B. Harvey/Stocksy United

Nobody is born the perfect traveler. Even the most seasoned veteran have made simple travel mistakes at least once as a result of not being aware of the situation. Although traveling can deliver many life enriching moments, it can also give us powerful (and uncomfortable) lessons learned through misconceptions of our travels.

Lucky for all, there are plenty of mistakes that have already been made time and time again, which we can easily learn from and prepare for. Before heading out for the open road, keep in mind these three rookie travel safety mistakes you can easily avoid!

Don't Gate Check Your Valuable Items

When I was working for Travel Insurance Services, one of my co-workers told me a travel safety story that had me on pins and needles. On an international church trip, her parents had to gate check one of their carry-on luggage on one of the legs of their flight. The only problem was that the luggage carried a lot of their necessities for the trip, including their prescription medications and foreign currency! The good news is that their story had a happy ending: their luggage was returned to them unscathed at their destination.

While their story had a great ending, not all luggage stories end that way. Once gate checked to your next destination and out of sight, those items - and everything in it - is at the mercy of a number of people, including luggage handlers. This puts your valuables, such as your electronics and medications, at risk. If you are forced to gate check your bag, make sure you take everything valuable out before it gets handed over. This way, everything important stays with you and in your control.

Make Sure Your Passport is Valid

For those who go across borders by land or cruise ship, the expiration date of your passport may be the last thing you're thinking about. So long as a passport is valid for the duration of a trip,many travelers may have should be no problem in crossing the border. However, this isn't the case when your adventures take you across continents.

Over 26 nations in Europe, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, and Germany, require your passport to be valid for at least 90 days past the date of your anticipated return flight home. Other countries in the Middle East and Asia, like China and the United Arab Emirates, require your passport to be valid for at least six months after your anticipated travels home. Before you make your travel plans, be sure to check the U.S. State Department's website to make sure you are in compliance with all travel regulations.

Otherwise, you could find yourself disallowed to enter your destination country, and ultimately be sent home on the next available flight.

Keep Close Inventory On Your Items

It's easy to get lulled by the security of keeping your items in what you think to be secure places near you. However, even the best hotel rooms can be accessed unknowingly by unscrupulous hotel staff. In some parts of the world,, pickpocketing is considered a lost art form. In both situations, travelers may very quickly find themselves unknowingly parting with their valuables.

If you plan on leaving your valuables behind in your hotel room while you're exploring a new city, be sure to re-pack everything you left behind and utilize the hotel room safe. If you're carrying a travel lock, be sure to lock your luggage as well - while it may not ultimately prevent a loss, it can certainly deter a thief.

Finally, while walking around a city, make sure that personal items are closely packed in a place only the traveler would know. Furthermore, it is important to avoid situations where travelers can be pick pocketed. Keeping those items close at hand will make it more difficult to be stolen.

These three rookie travel mistakes can happen to anybody. But by keeping these travel tips in mind before your next adventure, you can reduce your risk of being a victim, and instead focus on having the trip of a lifetime.