Avoid these 8 common booking mistakes by following these tips. (Photo: iStock)
There's nothing quite as disheartening as booking a trip only to find you've managed to make a mistake somewhere in the complex web of online bookings.
Perhaps you hesitate to ponder whether or not you've misspelled your name or whether, after five minutes of staring, it's always been a peculiar looking word.
Maybe you accidentally clicked the wrong return date that stretches a little longer than your budget had accounted for - or added an extra zero or two to your total cost that you most certainly did not intend to.
It's easy to get blindsided by the thrill and excitement of a pending travel adventure - especially after a dry spell for a while, but it always means we can be messy when it comes to reading the fine booking print - or the spelling of our rarely-used middle names.
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Well, here are some common booking mistakes we can fall victim to and how to avoid them:
Booking the wrong date or time
Hey, I get it - it's tough when you're physically brimming with joy, excitement and nerves at the prospect of a new travel adventure that telling the difference between dates labelled '09/06/2018' and '06/09/2018' becomes a mission only fit for the mightiest of Thor-worthy gods.
I mean, what kind of twisted torture is that? Why not simply name the months and which section does the month go in? For the love of all that is good in this world, why?! - I feel you.
But, we've got to steady ourselves just enough or get a steady buddy nearby to save us from the untimely death of our spirit - and perhaps bank account - should we book the wrong flight or hotel dates and times - or worst: both.
The out of sync nature of it all seems too daunting to brave alone and not to mention the additional fee you'd need to fork out to correct this mistake. But, my fellow self-booking-solo-travelling adults, it is a feat we ought to conquer.
SEE: How to book a hotel
So, how does one avoid this deadly travel sin?
Well, my comrades in flight plight, simply have your itinerary and paperwork or diary log on hand for referral to check back with and always double (triple, or quadruple) check your dates! That being said - always be sure to create a clear itinerary of your travel plan - where you wish to be on which days and mark these out to keep track for bookings and for when you're on your journey.
It is also wise to pay attention to time zones to account for when you wish to land in your destination and how to adjust your sleep in and off flight to stave off the demon only known by it's mysterious name: desynchronosis (or jet lag - which sounds less draining than it is).
And having a second pair of eyes gloss over your already quadruple-checked dates and times wouldn't hurt.
CHECK OUT: Dream 2018/19 holidays to plan for: Where South Africans are heading
Similarly, rushing through bookings or just getting distracted by the idea of our vacation can lead us to become skimpy over the spelling of even our own names!
You might even sit there staring at it tentatively, with your eyes glazing over, wondering if you're not missing a letter in the name you've spelled one way your entire life or whether it's always just looked like gibberish and you're just noticing it...
I, myself, have fallen victim to this by mistakenly spelling my simple five letter name Saara as Sara or even, I kid you not, Sqaara etc. etc. etc. and have only noticed after it was too late.
These things require us to put in our full name - the one slapped upon all of our legal identification and travel documents - second, third, fourth names and all. You can ask the cabin crew to call you Becky, but best believe the server prefers you as Rebecca...
And correcting this mishap promises to cost you a pretty penny too - one less for you to spend on leisure or souvenirs from your destination.
Avoid this by following the quadruple-checking rule, having a peer proof check it and should all else fail - calling your airline in advance shortly after the mishap to ask them to make a note of it - many airlines would be pretty laxed with it, but, of course, prevention is better than cure - so check yourself and keep your legal doccies within reach for reference.
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Skimping on the fine print
I know reading any kind of terms and conditions or fine print seems like a labour that not even Satan has time for today, but ignoring them altogether could lead you to missing vital information like:
- additional taxes, extra fees or charges on bookings or changes
- the different seasonal rates or fees
- the extra charges for extra legroom, extra checked bags, airport transfer or car hire
- cancellation charges etc. etc.
So, how can you avoid this?
I'm not saying you have to study the T's & C's or fine print like a student preparing for finals - although it wouldn't hurt - but, a simple read through or skimming over of the fine print and highlighting the important information would do.
This is vital should you not wish to be surprised by an extra few thousand being sucked out of your account and having no grounds to get it back other than the argument that you never read the fine print... Be safe not sorry, my friends.
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Duplicating your booking
This might sound bizarre, but it is a far cry from uncommon.
While the idea of paying double for one trip solely because you've entered it twice might seem like a bullet any 'ol fool could dodge, many have fallen prey to its clutches - be it as consequence of a faulty connection or a sudden reboot of the page.
There are instances wherein the wifi struggles get a little too real and things start crashing and Error 404 pages pop up and you were somewhere in the middle of locking down your sweet, sweet vacation and when the dust settles - you think you might have lost it and start from scratch.
And while this is a good technique to have in a metaphorical disaster, it's not that useful in reality as you might end up digging yourself a deeper financial debt grave in the rubble of the temporary crash.
Avoid this by always checking whether your booking is still in your online check-out basket or if the crash happened as you hit the coveted confirm button - call to see if the confirmation went through. And, if in the event it did not, then you can start from scratch.CHECK OUT THIS Infographic: Why these 10 destinations are best suited for the Muslim traveller
Using debit over credit
As empowering as it can feel to plug in your debit card details for a purchase after knowing you've strategically saved your own cash money up for a trip - it can also be risky. Using a credit card also comes with perks, like:
- airline miles
- free night stays or
- cash-back bonuses
Credit cards also offer guarantees to users like fraud protection or immediate refunds and discharges. They also come in handy for any incidental costs when booking accommodation.
And if you've saved up already - paying it off shouldn't be too much of a hassle.
The solution is simple: Save up what you need, but use the credit card for the perks and protection and avoid fraud or delayed refunds.
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Not checking reviews
The internet hangs in the balance on one universal law: sell your product, and sell it well. Whether the product is your personal brand (influencer) or a resort stay in a popular destination.
That being said, many companies will sell their product to death - making you truly believe it is your best and only option to even consider to buy into.
To avoid being duped - do your research! Always check online reviews of people that have actually stayed there and how their experience was. While you might want to snag the cheapest option - always compare prices and reviews to isolate what the real best quality and value option is.
ALSO READ: Fake reviews - how to spot them and how one notorious TripAdvisor fraudster landed in jail
Booking at the wrong time & missing specials
My travel enthusiasts and comrades, you need to know when to book. If you book during the wrong season or too close to your travel time - you might find yourself having to hitch a flight away from debt.
There are also sporadic specials that go up throughout the year, which could assist you when it comes to saving some coin during your bookings.
I know the procrastination urge can be strong and fighting it can seem an impossible mission that even Mr Cruise couldn't cruise through, but if you want to be a smart booker, you've gotta be an early looker.
The only sure way to know when the best time to book is to:
- keep abreast of travel sites or accommodation sites to see when they're having specials
- book well in advance should you decide to embark on a vacay
- and to check for deals during a destinations low or off seasons
All of these solutions require you to be an early bird if you wish to sneak a juicy budget worm.
ALSO CHECK OUT: Hop to it: How to save on peak-season travel costs
Booking non-refundable rates
While we're on the topic of cheap deals, my friends, I feel that at this point I owe you this warning: beware the non-refundable cheapies.
It can be tantalising to book a travel package that includes your flights, accommodation and local transport, but if you can't refund it should an unforeseen emergency or event occur around that time (as life often tends to stock some of those) then it's not worth the buck.
The solution, you ask?
Merely be willing to fork out just a smidge more for a refundable option to have the safety net required should an emergency arise.
ALSO SEE: How to book a trip around the world, it isn't only for the uber rich!
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