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13 Travel Mistakes You’re Making That Will Cost You Big

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Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact every passing year more and more people are finding the cheapest and best ways to travel. The truth is, when you’re traveling every penny counts.

Losing money in undesirable places such as luggage fees can make it so that you have less money to spend on your trip.

In even worse cases you would have to fork out even more money for a scooter accident or health issues that can have such high price tags you’re forced to cut your trip short.

There are a lot of mistakes that even the most seasoned of travelers fall victim to. These will end up costing a pretty penny. By knowing what to avoid and fully preparing for your trip you’re likely to spend much less.

1. Not Buying Travel Insurance

Too many people nod off at the idea of travel insurance. Oftentimes they think they are young and healthy and may not have a need for it.

Other times the the sticker price of health insurance can scare away travelers. Most commonly people avoid getting travel insurance because they don’t think they are gone for long enough to need it.

The truth is you never know when you will need it. We don’t mean to scare you but it takes just one misstep for you to need this service.

Whether you’re traveling for a weekend or a month getting the proper travel insurance can end up saving you thousands of dollars.

Whether it’s food poisoning, a few stitches or a life threatening car crash, travelers insurance will help you to receive quality health care without the international price tag.

This is so important because you can never predict what will happen while you’re away, but the difference between a hundred dollars of travel insurance and hundreds of thousands of dollars in foreign medical bills is too big of a bargain to take.

Many countries have a minimum price to see a doctor and it can be exorbitant. Lots of companies, such as AAA, will have discounted prices for members on travel insurance.

2. Paying For Three Meals A Day

While it may be tempting to enjoy as much of the local cuisine as possible but paying full price for three meals a day is likely costing you a fortune.

Even in places such as Mexico or Asia where food prices are cheap there is no need to be forking over this much money on food.

Oftentimes you can combat this when booking your hotel. Look for accommodations that offer at least a continental breakfast included with your stay. Taking full advantage of any sort of breakfast is a great way to combat costs on your vacation.

Before heading out for the day be sure to stop in and fill up on as much as you want during breakfast time. Be sure to leave full so that you will have tons of energy for your day.

You can even bring along a ziplock bag or a napkin and take a muffin or some fruit with you to snack on throughout your day.

As you’re now full from breakfast you will be able to only pay for one more heavy meal for the day.

It’s recommended to choose a late lunch or early dinner place as you will likely miss the lines and may even get to take advantage of cheaper lunch prices.

From here you can enjoy a late coffee or romantic evening snack that will help to leave you satisfied without spending nearly as much on food.

3. Not Having A Budget

Many people travel without a budget in mind and instead with a set amount in hand.

While you may have saved up $600 for spending money for your trip if you never budgeted how to spend this money it will go much quicker than you think.

With the thrill of the unknown can be exciting and not having a plan may be your only plan it can end up not working out so well in the end.

Lack of budget planning while abroad causes many people to overspend, or worse, rack up credit card debt.

While you likely will not know how much to spend in every category enough to make a strict budget but you can make some rough outlines. This should be done in the planning stages of your trip when figuring out how much money to save up.

If you truly have no idea divide your money by how many days you’re on the road for. For example if you have $600 for a two week trip you would take 600 / 14 = $42.

The only issue with this is that you have absolutely no money for unforeseen expenses. Be sure to start by pricing out the cost for your hotels or hostels.

While this may be an average as you may not be booking accommodations in advance it’s important to have a good idea how much these cost in every area you’re traveling to.

If you’re adamant against having a budget while you travel try to at least estimate how much money you have to spend a day leaving at least 50% of one days allowance left over for the end of your trip.

For example, if you allow for $100 spending money a day, allow for $150 left over for the last day. This will help with any transportation costs to and from the airport.

4. Forgetting To Check In With Your Phone Company

Having a access to a working phone while you travel is a luxury most people overlook. Yes, there are lots of places that have free WiFi but being able to call your parents from the jungle is an incredible safety advantage.

Lots of times phone companies will offer a roam like home plan or some sort of vacation offering to allow you to bring your phone along.

These can be cheaper than you think. Some can cost per day while others will be upfront about the cost. It’s important to check the prices of their different options before you leave for your trip.

If you have an unlocked world phone getting a SIM card from the country you’re traveling to may be worlds cheaper. Places like Thailand offer plans with more data than you can use (upwards of 12 or 20 gb) for a relatively cheap price.

Talk plans are similarly inexpensive. It’s worthwhile investigating your option before you jump on a plane.

The worst thing you can do here is not do any research and use your phone while abroad. Not only is there a chance of it not working but there will also be exorbitant fees associated with this.

5. Not Checking For Added Fees Through Your Airline

Too many people have been hit with the pain of those hidden airline fees. Booking through a cheap money saving airline can be tempting but watch out for those hidden baggage fees and meal fees that are associated with the lower price.

Read the fine print. You may end up actually saving money by spending more on your plane ticket. Less expensive airlines don’t tell you, at least in print you can read, that there is a $30-$50 bag check fee (per stored bag).

You’re also subjected to flight attendants trying to upsell you while you’re on the plane. “For just a small fee you can be upgraded to a seat with more leg room”. Some even charge you for water during your flight.

When you add all of these small fees up, and the hassle they cause, it may be worthwhile choosing an airline that goes above and beyond your expectations without a monetary incentive.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you should shy away from these bargain prices.

Read the fine print and you may learn that while checking your baggage comes at a cost, you’re able to bring your luggage as carry on on board with you and avoid this fee.

While you will likely have to pack lighter this could still go a long way in saving you money.

6. Storing All Your Money In One Area

If you think your foreign clothes and the large camera around your neck don’t make you stick out as a foreigner, you’re wrong!

While the area you’re visiting may seem safe a lost tourist is often too tempting for a pickpocket to not take advantage of. This is why it’s incredibly important to not have all your money and important documents stashed in one area (ie. your wallet).

This is especially important when in between flights at the airport. The hustle and bustle of large airports can be a great place for your belongings to go “missing”.

Try combating this by dividing money between you and your travel partner. Leave a small amount in your bag, some in your wallet, some in a money belt, a bit in your sock, and so on.

There are many secret convenient ways to hide your money.

Men should always travel with their wallet in their front pockets (try wearing pants with a zippered pocket) preferably secured to their belt loop and women wearing a purse should switch to a cross body style worn on their front.

This should be done whether you’re touring the streets or at the beach. For beach days be sure to always pack a waterproof wallet that will allow you to bring valuables, and cash, in the water with you.

Just make sure you don’t get water in it before you seal it.

Even the smallest amount of water can ruin your phone. Otherwise, try some handy tricks such as putting some cash in an empty chapstick or sunscreen container.

7. Forgetting To Let Your Bank Know Before You Go

Not only can this lead to your credit card being closed for suspicious activity but it could also leave you without some key information.

On the back of every credit card is a number you can call to let them know that you will be traveling with your cards. In addition to calling this number and informing them, be sure to go into your bank and talk directly to a teller.

While it may seem like an inconvenience, talking to your bank can prove very beneficial. Many banks have affiliate partnerships with banks in foreign countries that help you to skip the ATM fee.

Getting the lowdown on which banks to hit, and even which to avoid, can prove incredibly rewarding. ATM fees can cost you anywhere from a small $2 fee to up to $10 per transaction.

Not only this but all banks work a bit differently. In some cases you will get hit with an ATM fee (from the machine you’re using), a foreign transaction fee (from your bank) and be hit with an unfavorable exchange rate.

Knowing how your bank works before you go can end up saving you a lot of money.

Pro Tip: Be sure to check the ATM machine before using it. If it looks like it has been tampered with or is in a back alley do not use it.

8. Not Making Copies Of Foreign Documents

Imagine being in a foreign country and not being able to find your passport or your travelers insurance. This can cause a lot of stress and completely ruin your vacation.

Not only that but it can cost you a lot of money trying to organize to regain some of those documents with your embassy and your home country.

For this reason, it can be incredibly beneficial to make a couple of copies of these documents. Having some printed out copies of the most important documents and having a digital copy can save you a lot of time, money and stress.

For many people having a digital copy is most useful. This can be found in the form of a USB or, more desirably, scanned in and saved to a passport protected secure email folder.

Having your travel insurance, passport, birth certificate, driver’s license and even health care information accessible can prove infinitely invaluable.

While you may think you will never lose these important documents, the truth is you never know. Make a few copies and put them in each one of your bags. This way you ensure that you will not lose them even if you lose a bag.

9. Sticking To Tourist Areas

Not only will sticking to the tourist areas keep you from really indulging in the culture of the foreign land you’re exploring, but it will end up costing you a pretty penny.

In these areas prices are often marked up an astronomical amount. This includes prices on food, shopping and accommodations.

Oftentimes heading a mere block or two away from the tourist hub will get you prices half of what you would pay otherwise.

Wherever you go be sure to talk to the locals to find the best places to eat, stay and shop. They will likely be able to tell you the different areas to avoid and the many rewarding areas you may have otherwise missed.

10. Not Reading Reviews

Reading the many available online reviews is the best way to get in the know of the must see places in your foreign area. Well the second best after talking to the locals and hearing their advice.

While travel books can be helpful, they can often be outdated and overwhelming. Sites like tripadvisor and yelp are internationally used and the best way to find everything from accommodations to restaurants and great shopping.  

Before you go be sure to read one of the many online travel blogs for a great way to get a base knowledge about the area you’re visiting.

Looking through the reviews on all your online booking agencies such as agoda and booking.com will show you how other tourists found the stay here.

This will help you to figure out where is worth spending your money and the many places that you should avoid.  

While you travel be sure to update the various internet platforms with your reviews to help future travelers get the most for their money.

11. Over Packing

Over packing is something most people fall victim to with a degree of severity. Nearly all travelers pack at least a few things they don’t end up using.

This can sometimes get excessive with more pairs of shoes than days to wear them. The trick with travel is to always travel light.

If you can share a bag with your travel buddy that works even better. That way you can roll up an additional traveling bag inside your luggage and use it for all the souvenirs you buy while abroad.

Not only do airlines have a limit to how much luggage you can pack but they also have a limit to the weight. While technically you can pack quite a bit you can expect to be hit with some hefty bills if your suitcase is too heavy.

The trick here is to pack solid clothes in neutral colors with a few bright staples. This will allow all your outfits to match easily for different looks with less clothing.

For those who are known to over pack, you should ensure that you get a lightweight suitcase that will not add to your carrying weight.

Over packing will not just cost you at the airport but is also likely to hurt your back after a day of carrying. To avoid over packing be sure to give yourself enough time to properly analyze what you’re packing before leaving.

Also, investing in a scale to weigh your suitcase at home will leave you with a better mindset so you’re not shocked when you reach the airport.

12. Not Cashing In Miles Or Credit Card Perks

So many people don’t take advantage of the many rewards cards out there that help make vacationing even easier. This is often because they worry about associated costs or are looking to avoid having 5 different visas.

While it’s good to limit the amount of credit cards you have it’s important to be smart and allow your money to work for you.

Many people have mastered how to work the system by signing up at the right time to earn bonus points and then maximize the benefits of these cards.

Oftentimes people will spend money on their credit card for daily purchases to gain points or cashback only to pay off their visas weekly in order to keep their credit card balance down.

You rack the points up to use them, so when it comes time to book your vacation be sure to sit down and figure out how you can get the most for your money.

Maybe look to your different options and sign up for some travel rewards cards to enjoy their bonus points. While you may not have enough points anywhere to book free (or cheap) flights you still have a lot of options.

Be sure to see if you have enough to cash in on a nights accommodation, to help with a car rental, or even to get a prepaid visa you can use abroad.

Rewards cards are a great way to virtually get access to free money in the form of flights and accommodations.

13. Checking Your Passport Expiry Date

While you may check that your passport doesn’t expire before the day you get home some countries may have more stern rules on this one.

Well before you leave for your trip it’s important to check the passport rules in your desired country of travel. Some countries such as Indonesia and Belize require six months of passport validity following your intended return date.

This means that if you’re departing home from one of these countries January 1st, your passport will need to expire no earlier than July 1st of the same year.

While this seems strange it’s not uncommon. 25 European countries require three months of passport validity in order to travel.

Knowing where your country of travel falls into this and being fully prepared will save you lots of stress in the long run and potentially a lot of money.

Final Thoughts

You may think that you know all the tricks to successfully traveling without overspending.  While this may be true, even the most seasoned traveler can make some costly mistakes.

Knowing what to avoid before you go can work to save you a lot of money that is much better spent enjoying your trip abroad.

Have you fell for any of these costly travel mistakes? Let us know what you think in the comment section below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!

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