Avoiding costly travel mistakes should always be your number one priority whilst planning a trip. Unfortunately, a lot of people fail to do this and don’t even realise they are doing so. Traveling is expensive enough, and you definitely don’t want to be spending more money than you have to.
There are a ton of things that people fail to consider before a big trip, such as expensive roaming charges on their cell phone or forgetting to convert cash in advance. There are also careless mistakes that end up being hefty costs, such as overweight fees on baggage or forgetting that you left your $100 lotion in your carry on.
You also may think you are saving money by not buying travel insurance or booking that cheap flight with an hour layover, however they are money savers now that will cost you an arm and leg later. It’s also important to know when to book, during what season, and what search engine or site you should be using to do so.
Luckily, I’ve done all the research for you—by both the power of Google as well as my own personal travel mistakes. These tips can save you a lot of money in the long run by simply being aware of your surroundings in the destination you are visiting, doing your research in advance, and not spending irresponsibly just because you are on vacation and feel invincible. Of course, you should enjoy your time off, but there are certain things to keep in mind that will save your wallet.
25 Overpacking and paying overweight fees
We are all guilty of overpacking. However, packing too much can not only cost you an annoyingly heavy load to carry around, but also a lot of money.
If you are a few pounds over the minimum weight, there is a chance that the airline staff will let you off—but it doesn’t always happen that way.
If they do end up charging you, you could be forking out a hundred dollars (or more) that could have been avoided with a little more preparation. Each airline differs in weight limit and cost, but it's important to be aware.
24 Failing to learn about roaming charges
You may think that going away for a week means that you don’t have to be aware of the roaming charges in the country you are visiting. After all, it’s only a few days so how expensive could it really get? Answer: very expensive.
It’s always a good idea to call your service provider to find out what options you have in terms of roaming charges. If you are going away for an extended period of time, you can usually put your plan on hold for a few months while you are away, so you aren’t paying for services that you aren’t using.
23 Booking at the last minute
There are few cases where booking last minute will get you this ‘amazing last minute deal’ that you always hear about. Especially with accommodation and flights, it’s always a good idea to book as early as you can.
There are certain places in the world where hotels are not frequently booked out and you can just walk in and ask for a room (i.e. Southeast Asia), however that isn’t the case for places like Europe. Flights are also generally always at their cheapest a few months before departure, and it’s rare to find a crazy flight deal unless you are insanely flexible with dates.
22 Booking too far in advance
On the other hand, there is also the cases where booking too far in advance will hurt your wallet. While this is a riskier tactic, you can generally bargain with hosts on sites like Airbnb if their apartment isn’t booked out a few days before you are wanting to stay.
If places aren’t too busy, there are times when they will bargain with you since they will take whatever they can get. Deals can also arise on excursions and tours during off season, therefore buying them in advance when it is still high season can be more expensive.
21 Booking rapid connection times
You may think that an hour between flights is plenty of time, but it definitely isn’t. If your first flight is delayed even a little bit (which it probably will be), there is a high chance you might miss your connecting flight. Airports are pretty much the known for long lines and waiting times, so make sure that you aren’t naïve to the fact that delays can and will happen.
Missing your connecting flight could mean having to stay in a hotel for a night or having to fork over a chunk of money to get a new one—neither of which is ideal.
20 Not negotiating a taxi rate in advance
In a lot of countries, taxis don’t have meters and the price can be negotiable if done in advance. However, you can end up forking over a lot of money if you don’t ask what the price is beforehand. The driver will likely get angry since you have already gotten the service and are now asking for a discount.
Moral of the story: you will be overcharged if you don’t make an effort to negotiate, since you are a tourist and therefore an easy target.
19 Paying for rental car insurance
When renting a car overseas, look into the different options you have for car insurance. The car company insurance will likely be overly expensive and a lot of the times not needed if you have your own insurance. A lot of credit cards offer coverage and the insurance company you use for your car at home can sometimes offer overseas options.
It’s important to take the time to learn what options you have instead of just opting for the convenient insurance the company offers you.
18 Paying for rental car damage
Whenever you rent a car, you should check for damages that are already present and take pictures of the car from every angle. That way, you won’t be accused of making these damages at the end of your trip and incurring a hefty charge.
This is also the case for scooter rentals, surfboards, skis, and pretty much anything else that could incur damages that you could be responsible for. And no one wants to pay for damages that they didn’t make.
17 Packing liquids or other ‘no-no’s’ in your carry on
There is nothing worse than going through security only to find that you accidentally left your expensive, full-sized hand cream in your carry on. Or even worse—getting something memorable like a treasured pocket knife taken away.
Losing expensive items to security is a mistake that can be easily avoided. I mean, no one likes forking over the money to replace something that was pretty much brand new. It’s like throwing money out the window—so just don’t do it.
16 Traveling during the day
Especially if you are on a tight schedule, why waste an entire day sitting on a bus when you can be exploring the destination you are visiting? Travelling at night not only gives you more time to make the most of your travels, but it also saves money on accommodation for that night. If you’re going to sleep anyway, you might as well sleep on a bus or train.
A lot of people would rather travel during the day as well, so you can sometimes get good deals on overnight journeys.
15 Forgetting the ‘6-block rule’
The 6-block rule is simple: generally, anything that is within 6 blocks of a major tourist site will be double the price of something a few more blocks over. This is especially the case for food and drink, where you will find crowded tourist restaurants that charge big bucks because it’s a high-volume area.
Walk away from the hustle and bustle and find something more authentic at half the price, or head to a street food market for some cheap eats.
14 Not knowing the tipping policy
The tipping culture is different in every country, with some countries expecting 20% to be added to the bill and some expecting none at all. There are also places where the tip is already included in the bill, which a lot of people don’t think of and end up double tipping.
Make sure you do your research before you visit a new country, as you don’t want to be forking over unnecessary money when you are already spending a lot eating out every day.
13 Not buying travel insurance
You never think you are going to need travel insurance—until you do. Something that you may not need to pay for in your home country could cost a lot of money whilst abroad. You could spend thousands of dollars in an emergency situation, or a couple hundred dollars for a doctor’s visit.
Adding the extra cost is worth it in the end, as you never know what could happen while you are travelling. The last thing you want is to have money stresses when you are sick in a foreign country.
12 Keeping all your money in one place
It’s important to have some cash on you, but not necessary to bring all the money you have on every outing. Hotels generally have safes where you can store valuables, and hostels usually have lockers that you can lock your things in.
Bring as much money as you think you are going to need with you each day, and leave the rest in a safe place. It’s also a good idea to store money in different compartments, just in case you end up losing your wallet that has every dime you own in it.
11 Not taking advantage of public transport
It’s always easier to grab a taxi or Uber, but definitely not always the best for your budget. If you can, take advantage of public transport as much as possible. It can be just as fast and usually a fraction of the price you would pay in a taxi.
Using public transport may be inconvenient, but it can also give you a free tour of the destination you are visiting but taking you a longer, drawn-out route. It’s a win-win!
10 Being an easy target for pickpocketing
There is probably no worse situation that can occur whilst you are traveling. No one wants to be thousands of miles away from home and without a phone, wallet, or passport—so it’s important to always be aware of possible pickpocketers.
Try not to wear flashy clothing that will attract attention, and split your valuables into different compartments or in a money belt that hides underneath your clothing. Always keep an eye on your possessions while out and about, because you never know what could happen.
9 Not comparing prices
You should NEVER just book the first thing you see. Not comparing prices is the number one mistake travellers make. It is not only limiting to the places you could stay and things you could see, but you could be booking the most expensive option.
There are a ton of search engines that do the comparing for you when it comes to hotels, car rentals, and flights. However, sometimes taking the time to search the web and call hotels yourself can give you the best deal possible.
8 Not booking tickets online
No matter where you are visiting, you will likely have to buy tickets for certain attractions, national parks, and museums. Not only is standing in line to buy tickets a complete waste of time and extremely boring, but it is also generally more expensive compared to buying your tickets online.
Most major attractions will have the option to book tickets in advance, so always try to opt for that if you can. A lot of the times the ticket will be sent to your phone and you won’t even need a physical copy.
7 Exchanging currency at the airport
Most airports have the worst currency exchange rate, so don’t fall for this trick and exchange all your money as soon as you arrive. It’s probably a better idea to exchange some money whilst you are home through your bank. Banks usually have pretty good exchange rates, so research the different rates before you do so.
If you really need some cash when you are at the airport, take out as little as possible until you can find a cheaper option.
6 Not bargaining in shops
Wondering why those shops full of homemade textiles in India don’t have prices advertised? Because everyone barters the price. In many countries, shop owners will offer a higher price than they are actually willing to sell it for, since they are expecting you to bargain with them.
If you don’t bother bargaining, you could be paying more than double what the item is actually worth. It’s also fun to negotiate prices with store owners, as long as you don’t go too overboard.
5 Traveling during peak season
Not only is traveling during high season going to bring crowds of people everywhere you go, but you are also going to be paying up to double the price it would cost in low season. From crowded beaches to long lines for pretty much everything— the high season isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
It’s a better option to travel in the off-season or shoulder seasons directly before or after high season. It will not only be cheaper, but also a more enjoyable time.
4 Not taking advantage of free hotel amenities
There are a ton of free amenities that hotels and hostels offer that they don’t necessarily advertise. A lot of places offer free breakfast, which can save you a ton of money since you are saving the cost of an entire meal.
Hotels also offer a ton of free toiletries and pretty much anything you ‘forget’ if you just take the time to ask for it. Not only that, but that expensive taxi ride from the airport might not be necessary as a lot of places offer free airport shuttles.
3 Not checking bills thoroughly
Especially if you are staying in a hotel where you can simply charge dinners and items bought to your room on your credit card, make sure you always check bills thoroughly. Mistakes definitely happen, and you could be paying a lot more than you actually should if you don’t take the time to look it over.
It’s also a good idea to keep receipts from anything you have bought as proof, just in case you are accused of paying for something that you definitely didn’t.
2 Not preparing your house before you leave
If you are going on vacation, chances are your apartment or house will be unattended. It’s a good idea to prepare your house for departure to avoid paying for things that you aren’t using. Turn off all the lights, unplug your appliances, shut down the water, and turn off any air conditioning or heating.
Also, make sure you aren’t leaving any valuables out in the open and that all windows and doors are securely locked. Your insurance likely won’t cover you if you have carelessly left a door ajar.
1 Drinking with every meal
When you go on vacation you are likely eating out for almost every meal. This can no doubt get pretty expensive, but there are certain ways you can save money. Be conscious of buying a coffee or an expensive drink with every meal, and opt for the free water instead.
Having a drink with every meal may seem like nothing, but it definitely adds up when you are eating out 3 times a day. Treat yourself to a drink every once and a while, but I wouldn’t be buying one every time.