6 Easy Travel Mistakes to Avoid With Good Planning

The first time I visited Egypt, I went on an organised group tour. I had such a fabulous time that I went back there for my first solo holiday just two months later. It was an incredible trip, to a fascinating country I grew to love, but I made a bunch of easily avoidable travel mistakes.

In this post, I’m sharing some of my travel mistakes and how to avoid them, so you don’t make the same blunders that I did!

Thinking about visiting Egypt? You may also enjoy these articles:

6 Easy Travel Mistakes to Avoid

Travel Mistake #1: Careless Cabin Bag Preparation

This was one of my super annoying travel mistakes. As the flight only took four hours and I had everything I needed in my main backpack, I decided to take the teeniest little backpack as a cabin bag. In my defence, it was a cute bag.

So, I had my wallet, travel documents and passport, a book and that was pretty much it. What an idiot!

Travel Mistakes to Avoid when travelling in Egypt

As I watched other passengers wrestling bags into the overhead lockers, I felt quite smug for travelling light. I wasn’t quite so proud though when I arrived at Cairo airport as I was the last woman standing at the baggage carousel.

After lengthy discussions with countless local service staff, I discovered that my backpack had not made it onto the flight. Yes, my bag was still in London and it was going to take four days to arrive!

Four long days with the mercury rising to well above 40 degrees. Not the ideal time to be without spare undies/clothes, toiletries and deodorant.

To make matters worse, I didn’t know Cairo or speak a single word of Arabic. I’d never felt more alone, or more like a fish out of water.

After two days, I managed to rustle up some toiletries (sign language is a wonderful thing), and a very kind tour guide donated a battered pair of trousers plus two T-shirts that had seen better days, but there was zero chance of buying new underwear.

One embarrassing and fruitless shopping trip convinced me that “wash, wear and wait” was far the better option! (I’m still not sure what the correct sign language is for a bra!!)

Read more: Things I can’t travel without – My Complete List Of Travel Essentials

Pro Tip: It’s good to travel light, but always carry enough in your cabin bag to last the first few days at your destination. Nowadays, whenI travel I always avoid taking hold bags if I can. I’ve refined my packing to the point where I travel carry-on only on most trips. I never want to experience the lost bag crisis again. Or the horror of trying to buy underwear in a very foreign country.

Travel Mistake #2: A Crappy Camera

Not taking a decent camera on your trip is one of the biggest travel mistakes to avoid
A decent camera is a travel must-have. Image by Camila Cordeira

It’s embarrassing now to admit it, but I didn’t give a second thought to buying a half-decent camera for my first trip to Egypt. I knew about all the amazing places I was going to visit, but I didn’t know then how much I would regret the crappy, grainy photos that are my only tangible record of the trip. Huge travel mistake!

Lesson learned: Memories are great. They are even better when you can look back at good-quality photos of the places you’ve been, the adventures you’ve had, and the people you’ve met along the way. I don’t go anywhere these days without my travel camera, and I always have my phone for backup!

Pro Tip: Want to improve your photography skills? I highly recommend pro photographer Laurence Norah’s excellent step-by-step photography course. It’s easy to follow and designed for keen beginners. The best bit is that you submit your projects to Laurence and he gives personalised feedback! You’ll also learn how to choose and use the perfect travel camera for you!

Travel Mistake #3: No Imodium

I still can’t quite believe that this was one of my solo travel mistakes.

I was lucky and I didn’t get sick on my first visit to Egypt. Very lucky! So, I got complacent and totally forgot to pack any Imodium when I returned for my solo trip.

Big mistake. Huge

Julia Roberts as Vivian in Pretty Woman

The most painful and embarrassing of my travel mistakes – a prime example of what not to do when travelling abroad!

Once my stray luggage arrived, I struck out from Cairo for the remote oasis town of Siwa in the Western Desert. 10 hours from Cairo by coach, with no airport, Siwa Town is closer to the Libyan border than to Cairo!

When I finally arrived in Siwa, I felt like I’d travelled to the ends of the earth. Or the centre of the earth – at 46 centigrade it certainly felt hot enough!

Read more: Itinerary for 3 Days in Siwa Oasis, Egypt

For three glorious days, I explored the incredible oasis town. I bathed in the hot pool once used by Cleopatra and ate the most incredible food. Then I ventured out on a 2-day jeep safari, deep into the desert.

It was magical to sleep under the inky blackness of a sky without the taint of light pollution. I’d never seen stars shine so brightly anywhere else.

My luck ran out the night before my (non-changeable) 10-hour return coach trip to Cairo. The dreaded Delhi Belly struck. I had to choose whether to extend my stay in Siwa, denting my travel budget, or to press on as planned.

I got on that bus and hoped for the best. Whoops – another of my travel mistakes.

I’m still traumatised by the memory of the “facilities” on board. The dreadful stink of the toilet beckoned from the back of the bus: the condition of it was beyond description. Much as I needed to, I could not force myself use it!

Luckily, I’d reserved a seat near the driver, as far away from the loo as I could get. Through willpower alone, I managed to “hold on” between stops, but it was an agonisingly close call.

Oh, how I kicked myself on that journey for not having packed any Imodium! Of all the travel mistakes to avoid, this is a seriously big one.

Pro Tip: Always carry a first aid kit when you’re travelling away from home. Make sure too that your travel insurance will look after you and get you home again if disaster strikes.

Read more: Delhi Belly – Everything you need to know about holiday tummy before you go away

Travel Mistake #4: Not packing enough bug spray

I can’t begin to describe how much the vicious little Egyptian mosquitoes enjoyed chomping away on my poor lily-white legs! And the bites were horribly itchy! Suffice to say, I looked like I’d been pebble-dashed within minutes after my bug spray ran out.

You May Also Like: Tips for Women Travelling Solo to Egypt

I did manage to buy more bug spray locally (at great expense), but boy, did it take a long time for the scars of the bites to disappear. I wore trousers all summer long.

Pro Tip: Buy plenty of bug spray before you go and reapply it often while you’re there. If you do get bitten, I’ve found the best thing to take the sting away and to help irritated skin heal (relatively) fast is pure aloe vera gel.

Travel Mistake #5: The Wrong Shoes

This is a travel mistake I could so easily have avoided. The shoes I packed were no match for the dust and grit I encountered everywhere in Egypt.

Stupidly, I chose fashion over function and ended up with infected blisters where my lovely leather sandals rubbed my poor feet raw. It cramped my style and meant there were times when I couldn’t walk as much as I wanted.

Read more: The Ultimate Women’s Packing List For Egypt

Pro Tip: It’s a big mistake to pack the wrong shoes! Do your homework and only buy shoes that your feet will love you for.

Travel Mistake #6: Avoiding the details

I love to be spontaneous and to try new things, but I got seriously caught out when I was in Aswan. My travel companion and I were offered a private sailing trip down the Nile on a felucca.

The big mistake was that I didn’t check all the details of what was involved!

Sailing is in my blood, so I leapt at the chance to escape from the sweltering heat of the city.

Not checking the details is a big travel mistake to avoid
Felucca on the Nile by Kavya N M

I learned fast that not checking the details is one of the biggest travel mistakes.

I was romanced by the notion of scudding along beneath a snowy white sail, and I forgot to ask two crucial questions. “How long are we going for?” and “what’s included in the trip?”

Like an innocent to the slaughter, I turned up at the jetty at the appointed time, armed with lashings of sun protection cream and a bottle of water.

Little did I know, but the trip was an opportunity for my (newly acquired) travel pal and her Nubian boyfriend to have a ‘romantic rendezvous’!

Once onboard and miles from Aswan, I discovered that we were actually heading off for a 2-day trip. As there were no cabins, we were going to sleep on the deck, and I only had half a litre of water with me!

Very soon, I was incredibly thirsty, and I was almost tempted to do as the locals were doing and to drink from the Nile. Luckily I knew this would be a huge mistake – I knew about the bugs that live in the river, so I steeled myself to be thirsty rather than risk a horrible infection.

Suffice to say, by the end of the trip, I was dangerously dehydrated. It took me a couple of days to feel quite well afterwards. Healthwise – this was probably the worst of the travel mistakes I made.

Read more: 15 Funny Travel Stories to Make You Laugh Out Loud


I hope this round-up of some of my solo travel mistakes and how to avoid them. Hopefully, my funny travel mistakes will help you to plan your future trips and give you some ideas for what not to do on vacation.

Pin for Later – Travel Mistakes to Avoid!

What travel mistakes have you made on your trips? What happened? Do let me know in the comments if you’ve got a story to share! As always, I’d love to hear from you x

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Coralie Thornton

Coralie is an over 50s travel writer based in Yorkshire in the UK who writes engaging travel tips, destination guides, and detailed itineraries about the UK, Europe and beyond to inspire boomer travel. When she's not travelling, she's either planning a new trip, exploring locally in the UK, visiting castles and cathedrals, or finding somewhere new to enjoy afternoon tea.

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