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13 Costly Travel Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Budget

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costly travel mistakesAs you travel more often, the need for budget-saving deals and ideas to save money on your trips arises.

However, people who travel more often than others are tasked with the priority of avoiding travel mistakes that could affect their budget in the long run.

Whether you’re traveling for the first time or are a regular traveler, there’s bound to be something crucial you’re failing to do.

Check out these common travel mistakes that you can avoid to keep your budget intact on your next trip and the trips to come:

1. Overpacking

We’re all guilty of packing our suitcases to capacity. Packing too much, however, can not only make your hands sore from the heaviness but also mess with your budget big time.

It can really be complicated to know what to pack and what to leave out especially when you’re travelling to a new destination.

When travelling, avoid overpacking. You wouldn’t want to pull or carry around a bulging travel bag for the duration you’ll be staying in your destination.

If your luggage is a little over the minimum weight, there’s a chance the airline staff will let that slide – but it doesn’t happen often. If they do charge you, unfortunately, you may have to part with more than a hundred dollars.

Overweight or oversized baggage is classified as cargo and subject to additional fees if it exceeds the maximum airline weight restrictions. Luggage fees vary based on your airline, route and destination.

It’s always best to pack less than pack more. Typically, you can make carting your stuff around easier by travelling around with a carry-on sized bag. A bonus advantage would be having to avoid the time-consuming process of bag checking.

2. Being Unaware of Roaming Charges

Being away for a couple of weeks or months doesn’t rule out the importance of knowing the roaming rates of the country you’re visiting. Even if you’ll be staying for a couple of days, the coast of roaming can be quite pricey.

A few weeks before you travel, be sure to contact your service provider to be sure of which options are available to you as far as roaming charges are concerned.

If you’re sure you’ll be away for a lengthy period, you can put whatever plans you have on hold – at least for a month or two until you get back.

This will cancel payment for the roaming services you’ve not used and failure to do this will lead to unnecessary budget inconveniences.

3. Thinking Every Country Speaks Your Language

Among the best perks of visiting foreign countries is exploring new cultures. With that, you’re bound to be exposed to various never-heard-before languages that can be challenging yet interesting.

Take my case for example. A few years back when I was backpacking through Italy, I was not keen to the fact that English would not be a widely spoken dialect. The experience was a tough one for me, considering I was travelling on a budget.

To do basic things like ordering food at a restaurant requires basic knowledge of the country’s widely spoken language.

I had to master a few basic Italian words in the course of my visit. At one point, I had to pay a hefty bill at a certain restaurant due to miscommunication between me and the waiter. Luckily, I survived my one month travel with my broken Italiano. At least I tried.

Whichever country you plan on visiting, try as much as you can to learn at least a few phrases of the native language. Never assume that everyone in the country will warm up to you with a ‘Hi!’ or ‘Hello!’.

If you suck at learning new languages, carry along a phrase book or download the most reliable translation app as you travel.

4. Not Being Prepared for Border Crossing Fees

Most people, myself included, find border crossings to be a little confusing. This is especially so when coupled with the challenge of learning a new language. It’s easy to make a ton of mistakes while at it. My very good friend visited Cambodia and did what most new tourists do – she paid double for her tourist visa.

The slight mishap could probably be explained by lack of sleep the previous night. The extra $20 she wasted on having two visas would have gone to something more significant on her traveler’s budget.

You can avoid spending a fortune on two visas as she did. Do your research on the entire border crossing process by looking up ‘(your destination country)’s border crossing.’

This simple act can give you a glimpse of what to expect and how much you can set aside for the border crossing fees.

Additionally, you may need to be aware of border crossing scams and a whole load of other mistakes you can unknowingly fall prey to. Most con artists in foreign countries make a fortune off tourists’ ignorance of vital information like border crossing fees.

5. Neglecting Sunscreen on Your Vacation

Sunscreen can cost you a lot in terms of medical fees, especially when you’re travelling to a hot country. A beautiful but scorching day on the beach can often make sunscreen a pressing necessity.

Not including sunscreen on your budget could make you pay extra for an item you can just buy once and get it over with.

Throughout my Peninsula backpacking trip, neglecting my sunscreen was one of my most regrettable mistakes to this day. Not only did my skin suffer the consequences of my forgetful mind, but I also had to spend a fortune on sunscreen.

The sellers were simply making massive profits from the product’s surprisingly high demand. Although the sunscreen ate up a significant chunk of my budgeted money, I still went out there and had that much-needed fun at the beach.

Are you planning a beach holiday as well? If you are, don’t overlook the need for a quality sunscreen. Apply it in generous amounts every day before you step out into the sun.

You wouldn’t want your vacation money going down the drain and spending the rest of your days in a dermatologist’s office.

6. Not Budgeting Enough for Accommodation Fees

Going on an adventure with no form of planning whatsoever can be very freeing, fun and apparently, very costly. You’re basically risking the fact that your preferred means of transport and accommodation selling out.

I learned this the hard way right after booking my bus tickets to Germany. That was when it hit me that all the accommodation spots were simply beyond my budget. Was it not for a certain Couchsurfing host, I would have spent my night in the streets. You may not be as lucky as I was.

Most hotels or tourist inns raise or lower their accommodation fees based on how high or how low the tourist season is. You may not know this without doing enough research.

Once you know what to expect, you can book your stay a few days in advance in case of an unexpected tourist influx.

In other areas, you may have no problem with last-minute accommodation. Just make sure you have a number of backup options and a clear idea of their specific locations.

7. Not Prioritizing Your Health

After weeks  of extensive planning and saving, there’s an exhilarating feeling that comes up when you finally take the trip. It may be tempting at times to step out for a fun night out every day of your entire holiday.

While this may be very engaging, take the necessary precautionary measures to ensure that you don’t burn yourself out. I made this exact mistake while on tour with a few of my friends. We stayed out till late every single night.

We inevitably got sick (and I mean really sick) and were bed-ridden for two full days. My health got in the way of making the most of my expensive pre-purchased Universal Studios tour ticket.

The only way to keep yourself in good shape throughout your holiday would be to avoid going too hard too fast. If anything, you can drink all you want in your hometown with no regrets or consequences later on.

Enjoy the opportunity of seeing attractions you’ve been saving up for without having yourself bed bound.

When you’re traveling to developing or remote destinations, ensure you put your health first. Ensure that the food is properly cooked and the drinking water is safe to drink. Invest in a portable water filter to save a few extra bucks on bottled water.

8. Tardiness

There are two groups of travelers: those who are always behind schedule and those who are always on schedule. To be honest, I fall into the former travel group (as do most other travelers), which I’ve come to believe is a result of my optimistic nature.

Throughout my most recent backpacking adventure all over Europe, unfortunately enough, I missed a number of trains and buses either due to poor judgment or oversleeping.

At one point, I missed a very big-budget flight from New York City to Westminster. This was the costliest of my travel mistakes. Just the thought of it makes me remorseful of my actions on that day.

Being late for anything in general, not just traveling, can cost you a lot (a job, a relationship, or even your life).

My tardy ways have cost me more than I bargained for. If you’re planning for your next trip, it’s best you do some research on the time you will take to travel from your current location to the airport, train or bus station.

When you have a rough estimate of the time you may take, allocate yourself some extra time in case of queues, traffic, border control and generally all forms of unexpected delays.

9. Traveling With No Form of Travel Insurance

When you travel on an expensive trip and non-refundable travel plans without buying travel insurance, you may live to regret it for the rest of your life.

With no refunds, you could be out of luck if your trip is unexpectedly cut short due to bad weather or you have to cancel it yourself.

Before your travel date, ensure you’ve purchased legitimate travel insurance. Having travel insurance can refund you whatever amount you used for your trip in case of any setbacks or health issues.

Additionally, consider signing up a for a travel credit card that offers different coverages such as primary auto rental coverage, trip interruption/cancellation insurance as well as baggage delay insurance at no cost at all. That’s one of the perks of being a registered cardholder.

Now that you know about it early enough, you can take the necessary steps to avoid losing massive amounts of money for canceled trips.

10. Being Unprepared for Possible Injuries

Getting hurt at home may not be much of a big deal but sustaining serious injuries while overseas can be an outright nightmare. While hiking in Alaska, I accidentally, slipped on ice and severely bruised the middle finger on my left hand.

Though I walked away with an unfractured finger, my entire holiday was ruined due to the unbearable pain. At some point, I had to part with a certain amount for a comprehensive checkup. Though it wasn’t much, it really ruined my initial budget big time.

What if the injury could have been more serious than it was? The time and money I could have spent on adventurous escapades could have been spent on medical consultations.

That being said, it’s important to set aside money for emergencies such as these. Most people overlook the fact that accidents can happen at any time. On the other hand, if you already have global medical insurance, you’re better off. If you don’t ensure you get one – and fast.

Also, watch yourself. If you’re traveling on a trip that is mostly about climbing ruins or hiking, don’t forget to include suitable footwear on your checklist. Always hold on to the handrail when going up or down the stairs in icy places.

11. Misplacing Your Passport

This has got to be the most common of traveling mistakes. As everyone knows by now, a passport is among the most valuable items any travel can have in their bags or pockets. Losing it consequentially leads to being stranded in a foreign country until an emergency passport is processed.

Before you’re issued with one, there are extra costs that you’ll have to cater to first. You probably never included it in your budget, but when the need arises, you won’t keep a tight hold of your money any longer. On top of that, your travel will be disrupted and so will your plans.

While in Australia, I lost my passport while exploring Sydney and what it had to offer. I made my way to the Australian Consulate-General and made an application for a new passport.

As you can imagine, the paperwork involved was really time-consuming. At the end of it all, I had to pay a hefty fee.  Applying for a refund was out of the question at this point.

Your passport is an integral part of your travel. Whenever you step out, avoid taking it with you. Though there are steps you can take when you lose your passport, it pays to leave it safe at home.

Most countries nowadays accept a foreign license be it a digital or hard copy of the same for identification purposes.

12. Letting Your Guard Down

In any travel, your safety is of utmost importance. The worst thing you can expect to happen to you is being robbed – even in broad daylight. Even the most seasoned travelers can attest to have been robbed of their valuables at one point or another.

Depending on what’s stolen, the repercussions could be as serious as being left with no means of survival or identification.

Imagine yourself in some foreign location and you notice that you’ve lost your just when you needed to buy something.

The excitement of seeing new faces and places may make you let your guard down, therefore being susceptible to petty forms of theft. That would mean losing your identification, credit cards and other important stuff like cash of course.

If your purse or wallet contains anything important, consider getting it chained to your bag. Losing huge amounts of cash on foreign soil can be really frustrating, not to mention creepy.

It’s important to constantly stay on alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Before you travel, take time to look up your travel destination and beware of any common crime spots and tourist scams.

13. Not Utilizing Travel Rewards

You’ve probably gotten word of travel rewards programs and how you can earn free hotel nights or free airfare with loyalty programs.

Have you ever considered wrapping your head around the programs and how they can keep your budget in check?

Research shows that approximately 52 percent of travelers are aware of the benefits that come along with travel rewards programs.

Provided you’re able to repay credit card balances every month and have a good credit score, it won’t be all that complicated to earn a few travel rewards.

Examples of Travel Reward Programs

If you’ve never heard of travel rewards, the following are a couple of the best airline, hotel and affiliated credit card reward programs respectively in which you can sign up on for a start:

SkyMiles Loyalty Program

If you live in or next to Delta hub cities such as Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, New York, Detroit or Atlanta, you can earn SkyMiles on partner flights such as Delta.

Every SkyMiles you receive is redeemable for flights and other forms of travel. Unlike United’s and American’s programs, there’s no expiry date for SkyMiles.

The Miles plus Cash program gives you the opportunity to cut down the cost of a cash ticket even when you don’t have sufficient miles to cater for the entire fare. Occasional travelers will find this, coupled with the fact that miles don’t expire, very attractive.

Marriott Rewards

With Marriott Rewards, there’s always something for everyone. This comprehensive rewards program is among the most preferred travel reward programs for both the leisure and business traveler. Marriott’s extensive hotel network covers more than 3,000 hotels in 70 additional countries.

Marriott’s rewards can also be used on rental cars and flights with no blackout dates whatsoever. On the downside, accumulated points will expire after two years if they’re not used. If you have a substantial point balance, you can use it to pay for a high tier hotel.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

In June 2018, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card was awarded by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance as the ‘Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption.’

As long as there’s a free seat on any flight, you can book it via Chase Ultimate Rewards. The best part is that you don’t have to cater to extra foreign transaction fees.

When you spend over $4,000 on purchases in the first two months or so from the moment you activated your account, you can earn up to 50,000 bonus points. When you redeem these points via Chase Ultimate Rewards, that’s approximately $625 worth of travel money.

Final Thoughts

Considering we don’t get enough guidance when planning a trip, we’re sure to make a few rookie mistakes that make our budgets even more unbearable.

For instance, there are standard fees in regards to rental cars, air travel, lodging and basically every aspect of travel.

A huge number of travelers unknowingly spend far too much on unnecessary fees, fare or food – more than what’s required.

Sure, traveling can be quite expensive. But there’s no need to ruin your budget by making intentional or unintentional inaccuracies.

It’s all about creating a detailed plan that will have you covered for as long as you’re away.  Also, remember to sign up for travel insurance if you’re in a position to do so.

No matter your destination or the means you use to get there, it always pays to refrain from making costly mistakes that may later incur some hefty costs. Make sure you know you’re well prepared the next time you pack your suitcase for a long trip overseas.

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