Waiting. That's the worst mistake a traveler can make these days.
It's what Femi Adenuga did after buying tickets for his parents to fly from Lagos, Nigeria, to Pittsburgh through Travelocity. A week later, he noticed a typo in his mother's first name. He contacted Travelocity, which got in touch with Delta Air Lines, which urged him to cancel the ticket and buy a new one.
The lesson: Review every reservation you make immediately. If there's a problem, speak up right away, while there may be time to correct it without a penalty. Here are four other mistakes to avoid when traveling:
NOT INSPECTING YOUR RENTAL CAR AT PICK UP Note any damage, even the smallest dent or scratch and ask the company for a signoff. Hertz just began a program to start taking pre-rental pictures of its cars. Consider getting a shot of your vehicle, too.
NOT BUYING INSURANCE FOR YOUR CRUISE Lisa Olson missed her Carnival cruise because of an airline delay. "We did call before the cruise departed to see if there was any other cruise leaving around the same time that we could change to, and there was not, so we had to cancel," she said. At that point, she could have made a claim on her travel insurance - if she had it.
Cruise lines hardly ever cut passengers any slack on this front - nor do they offer credit toward a future cruise because it "undermines" the highly profitable travel insurance that cruise lines sell.
But shop around before buying cancellation insurance - the policy your cruise line recommends may not be the best for you.
STAYING AT A HOTEL WITH A RESORT FEE Don't give your business to a hotel that charges a mandatory resort fee. These imposed surcharges, often $10-$20 a night, cover anything from the use of the property's pool to housekeeping ... things that should be included in the hotel's base rate.
USING A CREDIT CARD THAT CHARGES FOREIGN TRANSACTION FEES One traveler who booked airline tickets from Mumbai to New York through Qatar Airways on Expedia was surprised to disover a $44 transaction fee on his Citibank bill - because Qatar Airways was not based in the United States. Avoid foreign transaction fees by using a card such as Capital One, which doesn't impose such charges and also absorbs the 1 percent fee that Visa or MasterCard charges it for a cross-border transaction.