Last weekend, hundreds of female travelers gathered together in NYC for the Women’s Travel Fest. While there, experts dished on everything from important solo travel safety tips to a pre-travel beauty prep routine. To say these ladies are professional travelers would be a massive understatement. But when you’re taking your first few explorations, everyone’s bound to mess up a few times — even the pros. So we decided to ask some of the speakers to share the biggest travel mistake they’ve ever made. Scroll on down to hear what they had to say, and take note not to do the same.

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1. Always have your first night planned. “When I was younger, during my earlier days of traveling I would buy an airplane ticket and just show up. I would have nothing booked and I wouldn’t plan anything,” says Stephanie Flor of Around the World Beauty. “I’d land in India and say, ‘I want to go to the Taj Mahal.’ I still don’t plan much, but now I always have my hotel booked for at least the first night and my transportation from the airport to the place I’m staying.”

2. Stay away from the big box hotel chains. Carol Cain of Girl Gone Travel says, “The biggest mistake I’ve made is thinking that because a hotel is more expensive than a local motel, that the service will be better. Something I’ve learned a lot through traveling is that often you can not only save money, but also have a more personal and authentic experience by getting away from the big chains. It takes a lot of confidence to do that and venture into a neighborhood that you might not know, but I think limiting myself to the hotels that I recognized as opposed to renting a room or staying in a mom and pop place was a big mistake.”

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3. Read your Airbnb/Couchsurfing reservation very carefully.Shayla Martin, a freelance travel writer, offers her advice in the form of a Couchsurfing horror story. She tells us, “On people’s profiles [on Couchsurfing] there is a very small section that describes what kind of lodging option they can offer. A lot of the time when you’re on Couchsurfing, you assume the person is going to have a couch or a room, and you don’t ask. In this situation, I didn’t ask.” She goes on to explain that she arrived at a very small studio in Paris that didn’t even have a bed, only a single futon. “We had to sleep next to each other on her futon bed. That got weird real fast.” After her major mix up, she realized there is a section on Couchsurfing’s site that specifies whether your host has a couch available or a “shared sleeping surface.”

4. PLEASE don’t overpack. Beauty expert and the founder of Passport 2 Pretty Kenecia Lashae admits she has been guilty of the cardinal travel sin: overpacking. She tells us, “I mean it’s sort of a catch 22. I tend to under pack when I travel in the US because I have this notion that I can get whatever I need wherever, but those things take time. On the other hand, overpacking is awful. You can’t afford to throw things away because there are things you might need later, but it’s hell on your back. It’s like having a bolt and chain. Don’t do it!”

What’s the biggest travel mistake you’ve made? Share with us on Twitter @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)