After I have visited 15 countries, I already considered myself an experienced traveler. So, I decided not to dive into all the planning of my next travel because I didn’t have enough free time. My idea was just “to go” and then make the detailed plan later! Something went wrong at the very beginning and the result turned out to be not exactly what I imagined! Instead of swimming in the nice water of the Caribbean Sea and climbing volcanoes, I ended up in a Mexican prison without even crossing the border!
TOP 6 Travel Planning Mistakes
In October I’ve already bought my tickets for the flight in December! I did this with lightning speed, as soon as I saw that a KLM air flight company had a great promotion. So, at that time, it was possible to fly to Mexico from Europe for only $250 – 300. Of course, the most profitable option was to connect several flights to get to the final destination as cheap as possible! I noticed, that sometimes 2-3, or even 4 transfers are much cheaper than a direct flight! It was the same in that case, due to the coronavirus! As it appeared, that was my first mistake!
1. Incorrect Routing
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic around the world in 2020, a lot of airports have applied many restrictions. One of the good examples was a restriction to transfer your baggage from one airline to another (except the case when they are partners).
Thus, my combo flights WizzAir + KLM turned out to be impossible, because I cannot transfer my luggage inside the airport in Berlin (i.e. I would have to leave the transit area, get my luggage and go with it to the check-in counters). This has been completely ruled out for safety reasons due to COVID-19!
The only possible option to make the correct “transit” with luggage is to use all the connections with one airline, or a group of airlines that cooperate! So, they would transfer the luggage without your participation. The detailed information about different partners can be found on the airline’s website, in my case it was KLM.
My luck was still on my side and since WizzAir has changed the flight schedule, I was able to get the funds back to their bonus account. By the way, there is a cashback that you can get to your WizzAir bonus account when booking on booking.com. And, in addition (thanks to the same pandemic) I requested a voucher for the purchased ticket “Berlin-Amsterdam-Mexico City”, and returned all the money. I immediately used that voucher when I was buying tickets for the right route “Kyiv-Amsterdam-Mexico City”. So, it was one airline with a minimum number of connections!
Based on everything that happened in my case during the ticket purchasing, we can conclude that it is necessary to carefully investigate all the conditions of transit in different countries and airports before buying the “cheapest” ticket. If you do not do this, you may find yourself in a situation where you will not be allowed onboard due to the lack of transferring your luggage.
2. The Lack of Time for Detailed Planning
When I already had the “right” tickets, I was constantly postponing a very important task for solo travel – which is a deep research of attractions, routes, and different details! Namely, I needed to spend some time doing some researches about how to get to the exact place, and where to go in Mexico in general. It is always required to schedule your route day by day, so you can understand where and when you will be at a particular moment in time! And it is also imperative to read about the culture of the country and work out all the nuances that may arise when you need to cross the border.
Since I had limited time before departure and too many other tasks – for example, I wanted to complete the renovation phase in my apartment, meet friends before a long trip, and so on. In general, at that time I was doing everything, but not preparing for the trip! I let everything possible “drift”, and the result of such actions was not going to wait.
3. The Lack of a Visa to Your Destination or Transit Countries
The only thing I did was checking the visa requirements – it turned out that it was very easy for me to get a visa to Mexico. So, if you need to do this you just can apply for it online, but not earlier than 30 days before departure (if the link does not open, try a VPN). Just about 15 minutes after submitting the online application, I had an electronic confirmation that I needed to print. After that, I read the rules for entering Mexico on the embassy’s website once again – here.
I also recommend you to check all the requirements about any visas to transit countries! Or it is also possible to change the route so, there is no need to make additional documents for any transit. Also, I want to mention that some countries are very strict about visas, even if you are not going to leave the airport (for example in my case I have to have visas to the UK or the USA)! If you don’t have all the necessary permits, you simply will not be able to go on board at the departure airport!
4. The Lack of Hotels Bookings for the Entire Route
The time flew very fast and when I had only a couple of days left before departure, I decided to book a hostel in Mexico City for a couple of days. My idea was just to relax after a long flight and because of the time difference. After that, I was thinking to stay by Couchsurfing, so I haven’t done any other reservations. That was another mistake of the “experienced traveler”.
So, if you want to cross the border some of the migration officers may request a detailed itinerary of your travel and it might be mandatory to have hotel reservations. As you might know, the authorities do not want you to be engaged in vagrancy or to live “no one knows where.” This is also pretty logical – if you want to visit the country, you have to spend your night somewhere.
The hotel reservations can be replaced, for example, with a printout of the Airbnb payment (by the way, here you will get a very good discount on your first booking using this link), or a confirmation from a resident that you will be staying with him or her. In general, any document confirming that you have a “roof” over your head for your trip will work perfectly!
5. The Lack of Sufficient Funds of Subsistence
Yes, no matter how trite it may sound, but you must have funds for a living – in different countries, the amount varies from $20-30 to $100 (and sometimes even more) per day. Therefore, it will not be superfluous to have a certain amount on your credit card or in cash equivalent to confirm your ability to pay for the entire trip. For Mexico, it is $50 per day (these requirements are written on the ministry’s website). So, if you plan to spend 10 days in the country, then you must have $500 at least in your account.
You have to show the migration service that everything is good with your financial side! Mostly it will be enough to print a bank account statement, or you need to have cash with you for the estimated number of days (or a combination of both – the statement + “cash”). They might ask you to show these documents. After that, the migration service will have no questions or suspicions about any illegal attempts to earn extra money in the country.
6. No Return Tickets, or Tickets to Any Other Country
This is probably one of the most common mistakes experienced travelers make, especially when they fly for an indefinite period, how it was in my case! I was going to travel for 3 or 4 months, or maybe more. The plans were to visit some of the countries in Central and South America. Since I was not limited by time, I decided not to take any tickets – neither return home nor to any of the neighboring countries that I was going to visit.
That was the main reason for the denial of my entry to Mexico. The migration officers must be 100% sure that you are not going to stay in the country more than allowed by your visa because it is illegal! So, as you can understand, your return ticket or a ticket to any other country is VERY important for the authorities!
In my case, it had to be a ticket to Costa Rica – this is where I planned to go from Mexico. But unfortunately, no matter how I tried, I failed to convince the migration officer that I just a good traveler. As a result, I went straight to the Mexican prison.
This is a completely different story, but at the end of this, I want to summarize – if you are going on a journey on your own, then you have to be very responsible for planning. Check and research as much information as possible, book accommodation, buy tickets for the entire journey (even if they are kind of “fake” – here you can do this), print out everything you can print, pack your backpack (or suitcase) and go traveling without any headache! 😉
I am sure that you will succeed! If you have any funny things that happened to you, don’t hesitate – write in the comments!
Good luck! 😉