You work hard for the whole year to save some money on your long-awaited vacation. Maybe you even created a special travel fund to be sure you’d collect the needed amount of money before your holidays.
But then you start your dreamed vacation and see with consternation how quickly your money runs out during only a few days. And you have no idea where all of this hard-earned money has gone.
I totally get it. I’ve been there too. Before I worked out my best hacks on saving money for traveling and learned how to manage them with a peace of mind, I was exactly in the same situation.
From my own travel experiences, I learned how important is the process of travel planning. Thanks to a few moments more spent on organizing your trip before leaving your home, you’ll be able to save a lot of money. Which you can use to enjoy your trip even better.
So I wrote this post for you. You find here 13 situations in which your money simply run away from you if you don’t pay attention to organizing your trip in a proper way.
This post is a part of the Travel Planning Series.
You can find more clever tips on how to plan your next trip by clicking here.
This article will help you localize the gaps in your travel planning process. Thanks to this you’ll be able to manage your money better while planning your next trip.
Consequently, you’ll keep more money in your pocket that you can spend on real travel pleasures like activities, delicious food, and high-quality souvenirs.
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Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links. That means that if you click on them or make any purchase via them, I receive a small commission. But don’t worry, this will not cost you anything and in a few cases, you can even receive a special discount! And I will still be able to chase my dreams. So thank you!
13 ways to lose your money on a badly organized trip:
#1 Planning travel in a peak season
Many beginning travelers make this mistake. When we think about holidays in Italy, Greece, or France, we usually imagine the hottest summer months – July and September. But if you want to be more clever about holiday planning you should also consider other months to travel.
First of all, those two months are the most expensive to travel to Europe and the USA. Why? Because the weather is told to be the best to lie on the beach and travel with kids during their school break.
But if you’re not limited by the strict school time frames, you should consider traveling in less popular months. Prices, especially for accommodation, might be much lower then, and you’ll have a bigger choice of nice places to stay.
So not only you’ll save money, but also you’ll enjoy sightseeing in fewer crowds of other tourists. Also, let’s be honest. Visiting the Italian coast in temperature about 30°C is not that pleasant. Late Spring or early Autumn also guarantees great weather and a lot of fun.
#2 Booking the first available flight and insisting on a specific date
I perfectly know the excitement that comes with finding the cheap flight to a dreamed destination. But if you’ve just started your search, it’s much better to dig a little bit deeper.
First of all, make your price research before you actually start the booking process. Checking the flights a few weeks earlier will give you an overview of the average prices. Only then you’ll know if your final price is attractive or not.
Secondly, try to become a little bit more flexible and check the flights not only on a very specific date but also +/- 3-7 days away. By moving your vacation for a few days backward or forward, you can save a pretty nice amount of money on the flight tickets.
#3 Booking a cheaper flight to a distant airport and paying more on transfer
Very often big cities have a few airports nearby. And even though those airports are in fact in different towns, usually they use the metropolises’ names for better recognition.
But this practice is misleading for travelers. Did you know that popular Oslo Torp is actually 120 kilometers away from the actual Norwegian capital?
Or that Paris-Beauvais is an airport around 90 kilometers away from the Eiffel Tower?
To reach your main destination from these airports you need to take additional transfer that costs money. Usually, the airports are well connected to the main cities but you need to take this cost into consideration while planning your travel budget.
#4 Booking the first found accommodation instead of checking in different places, on different websites
Here’s a similar situation as in the case of cheap flights. The booking websites are designed to show you the best-off-all, only-today, almost-sold-out accommodation options.
While it’s often true, because the best rooms sold out quickly in a peak season, you should take a cold distance to all of these incentives.
So before you book your perfect hotel, I recommend you to check it on a few different websites. You can try Booking.com, Trivago, HotelsCombined or even Airbnb to check if some of these sites don’t offer a more attractive price at the moment.
Also, booking rooms directly via the hotel’s own page will sometimes give you some benefits: a discount, a free breakfast, or a welcome drink.
So instead of being impulsive, consider different booking options to eventually save some money.
#5 Ignoring packing lists and buying forgotten items on place
These days, we are often in a rush and I know how easy it is to ignore preparing the personal packing list before a trip.
But trust me, it’s worth your while.
The biggest advantage of packing lists, next to your peace of mind, is to cut the risk of unexpected but necessary shopping during your vacation time. And admit it, you’d better be laying on the beach or trek in the mountains, instead of looking for the drug store because you forgot to pack your daily medicine, right? Even harder if you try to do it in a foreign language.
And the worst thing about this: you simply lose your money on items that calmly wait for you at home.
Psst. Wanna check out one of my packing lists? Here’s the post with all the stuff you should pack for the Caribbean (or any other hot) vacation!
#6 Overpacking and paying for additional luggage
This is a very popular travel planning mistake among occasional travelers. Even I sometimes catch myself on overpacking the stuff that I won’t ever use during the holidays.
If you want to stop losing money on unuseful airport services, you should be honest with yourself and truly consider the amount of clothing and accessories you bring for every trip.
Maybe 5 pairs of trousers and 4 dress is a little bit too much for a week of vacation? And maybe you really can live without a hair straightener on a tropical island when you’ll be mainly splashing in the sea?
Or isn’t your 40 liters’ suitcase a little bit too big for a weekend city getaway?
If you want to learn more about how to pack reasonably for short trips, read my blog post about traveling with hand luggage only.
#7 Not making research of the public transportation options
I know that figuring out public transportation in a foreign place might be a deterrent. Big cities offer enormous transportation options while distant places sometimes miss online information about local buses or trains.
Nevertheless, many places want to make their transportation systems easier to understand for travelers these days.
Considering public transportation as important for three financial reasons. First of all, reaching the city center with public transport instead of dedicated tourist transfers might save you a pretty nice amount of money. Not always, but sometimes the independent trip to the airport isn’t that complicated that they say, and it’s often cheaper.
Secondly, many touristic places offer special time-limited travel passes for tourists. They allow you to enjoy unlimited rides with buses/trains/metro but often they have a better price than single tickets.
And the last thing: if during a trip you visit a big city, such as Paris, or London, it’s definitely better to take public transport than to rent a car. This way, you reduce the costs of car parking and gasoline (which are often not taken into consideration while creating a travel budget). But also, you save a ton of time on finding a parking place that is always a problem in metropolises.
#8 Forgetting to check the technical condition of your rented car
Reading complex agreements and being picky when it comes to renting a car might be stressful for some.
But if you want to gain the peace of mind and, moreover, do not worry about your money paid-up for a deposit, you should be a little bit fussier while picking up a vehicle from a car rental agency.
Always remember to take detailed photos of your rented car before leaving the agency’s parking, preferably with the date on them. This way it’ll be easier for you to present evidence of your guiltlessness in a situation when the agency will try to blame you for damages made by someone else.
P.S. Always check the battery in your car keys. Wanna know how? Click here and read about my stressing experience.
#9 Not making a foodie research
This is a point that you might haven’t think about before. But we all know that eating in most tourist places is often a scam, right?
I believe there exist restaurants located just next to the most popular tourist attractions that offer delicious meals. But they’re usually very expensive.
And let’s be honest, a lot of restaurants having a perfect location, play a game eat-pay-and-never-come-back. I experienced it on my own. In Milan, I had a doubtful pleasure to eat in a restaurant in a very representative place. It was crowded inside so I thought it must be good. Unfortunately, the people eating there were probably tourists like me. I ate there the worst carbonara in my life. Imagine it. In Milan, Italy!
The best way to find delicious food at your destination is to look for some information on the Internet before reaching it. You can browse travel blogs, or local forums, on Couchsurfing for instance. Note the chosen places down and you’re ready to go!
This way you’ll not only save some money by eating in less representative restaurants, but you’ll also experience the pleasures that locals enjoy every day.
#10 Not learning about local travel scams
You’re gonna have the silliest feeling ever after losing your money on a local scam. That’s for sure. It’s hard to totally avoid them, especially in huge popular cities.
From pick-pockets, through requests for fake donations, and ending by horrendously expensive shitty bracelets. You can get scammed in many different ways.
So how to avoid losing money this way? Go to Google and search for the name of your destination +”tourist scams”. You’ll find plenty of information from travel bloggers and other travelers about how to stay safe and how to not get mislead.
#11 Ignoring the currency exchange rate
We got used to being sure that in any civilized place in the world we can pay with our credit card. And that’s usually true.
But have you ever considered how much money you lose by paying with your $, €, or £ bank card in other currencies?
Banks usually tend to inflate the exchange currency on their services. It’s their margin. It’s not a big deal if you travel only occasionally.
But if you aim to travel more often, I would recommend you considering another solution.
Personally, for my foreign expenses (also during travel), I use the Revolut prepaid card. It allows you to exchange many different currencies with the interbank exchange rate. So at the lower possible price.
Using the Revolut card is totally free to personal accounts. If you want to learn more about it, click here to read my review of the Revolut card. I show there an example of how big your money savings can be with this clever solution.
Or, if you already want to create your free Revolut multicurrency account, simply click the button below.
#12 Not participating in loyalty programs
I am not an expert on travel with “airplane miles” (yet). But I already know how valuable can loyalty programs be.
One of my favorites so far is the Genius program by Booking.com. I make most of my bookings through this platform cause I like to have everything in one place. Plus, I have some positive experiences with their customer service.
And Genius program is a nice add-on to the overall picture. It’s easy to achieve the first level of the program. And the biggest benefit of it is a 10% discount in many hotels and apartments all around the world.
At level 2, you can get even a 15% discount in some places, a free breakfast, or even a free room standard upgrade. Sounds nice, right?
#13 Not purchasing the insurance
Many people tend to save money on insurance. And I do not blame them, because it might be hard to find affordable insurance of high quality. Many of them are often scams.
But if you don’t want to get in financial trouble in the future, I would recommend you purchasing the travel insurance before your trip.
So far (luckily) I had only one situation when the insurance saved me from troubles. It was in a car rental agency. I described this story in a blog post about my worst travel planning mistakes that I mentioned before.
You should always get insurance, at least for the medical treatment. On a trip anything can happen and trust me, you won’t be happy seeing the invoice for expensive medical emergency services abroad after coming back home.
Download the free list of
21 Advanced Travel Tips
and improve your travel planning process
with these easy steps!
Do you have any other experience that you would like to share with other readers? Your thoughts might be extremely useful to others. Share them in comments!
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Dominika is a founder of Sunday In Wonderland and she recently switched her life to be local independent. She aims to travel the world and admire all of its wonders. She is much focused on sustainable life, self-development and making this world a better place.