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11 Hidden Travel Expenses to Avoid on Your Next Trip

Before you book your next trip, consider these hidden travel expenses first!

While it may be true that traveling enriches your life emotionally, the reality is that it can also be a costly affair that unpredictably puts a strain on your wallet.

When we switch into our vacation mode, we often overlook the subtle traps designed to drain money from off-guard travelers. Luckily, you don’t have to return home financially depleted. Must See Places has got you covered!

If you have a vacation coming up, you should obviously expect to spend SOME money. But you should also strategize to spend less wherever you can. Knowing which purchases don’t deserve your dollars, pesos, or euros is the best way to begin this journey.

Here are 11 hidden travel expenses you might be wasting money on while traveling and how to avoid overspending.

Hidden Travel Expense
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Hidden travel expense: On-the-spot ticket purchases for popular attractions

Popular tourist spots usually have long lines and higher prices for on-the-spot ticket purchases. But many attractions offer discounts for tickets that are purchased in advance online.

By planning ahead for your trip, you not only save money but also time, which will make your overall travel experience even better.

Hidden travel expense: Limiting yourself to US travel sites

Taking advantage of US domestic sites like Travelocity, Expedia, or Orbitz are fine. We’ve all found out that booking your vacation through one of these websites is easy. You remember William Shatner recommended one: search, find, pay.. easy peasy!

But they only search some companies worldwide, and by limiting yourself to these sites, you may miss out on hotels, airlines, and deals that don’t show up in US-based searching.

So we recommend expanding your horizons to include websites like: Holiday Pirates, Skyscanner, Momondo, Laterooms, and Agoda. This way, you’ll get a more detailed view of all the deals available to you.

Hidden travel expense: Only using rental cars or taxis

Relying on rental cars or taxis can get pretty costly fast, especially in cities where public transit is much more affordable and often more convenient.

Try to use public transport as much as you can wherever you go. It’ll be easier on your wallet, and it also offers you a glimpse into the everyday lives of locals.

Hidden travel expense: Booking too early

People get enthusiastic about their next trip. And, to make it seem more official, they book their flight right away. On the other hand, there are those who forget entirely and wait until the last minute. If you ask us, both ideas are a mistake.

You should book your flight about two or three months in advance to guarantee the lowest fares possible. Prices go up and down for four major reasons: supply, demand, competition, and oil prices. Sadly, we can’t control any of these aspects.

But about two to three months before your departure, airlines begin to raise or lower prices based on competition and demand.

Also, if you’re going to search flights over multiple days, search incognito because airlines and booking websites use cookies to track behavior and may hike up prices if they see you returning frequently.

Hidden travel expense: Dining at the wrong places

While we understand that dining with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower or plopping yourself down right next to the Colosseum sounds like a dream, eating near major tourist attractions is a major money pit.

These prime spots usually have a high price tag and surprisingly low-quality food. If you take a stroll a few streets away, you’ll discover where the locals eat.

Not only are the prices much more budget-friendly, but the food’s authentic, and you may even stumble into some fantastic, off-the-menu experiences.

Hidden Travel Expense
Phot by ArtifexGuru at Shutterstock

Hidden travel expense: Travel insurance

Before you spring for that extra coverage, take a moment to look over the insurance you already have tucked away in your wallet. Credit cards, particularly those designed for travelers, include travel protection for baggage delay, trip cancellation, and medical emergencies.

Likewise, your home or renter’s insurance may already cover personal items while you’re traveling. The secret is to gather all the facts before you leave.

A brief call to your credit card company and glancing over your insurance policies could reveal that you’re already well covered.

Hidden travel expense: Not collecting frequent flier miles

This is one of the most straightforward but often overlooked wins when it comes to traveling because of the continued misunderstanding of credit cards.

If you’re not collecting hotel points and airline miles on your day-to-day spending through credit card purchases, you’re leaving a hefty chunk of cash on the table and limiting your ability to travel more frugally and longer.

So make sure all your spending goes on points or cash-back cards. Many credit cards come with a 40,000 or more point bonus when you meet their three-month minimum spending requirement.

That’s a free US-to-Europe flight from the get-go. Just be sure to make your payments on time!

Hidden travel expense: Excessive baggage fees

You might not know it, but you may be spending too much money even before leaving your house. This happens because we frequently try to pack everything but the kitchen sink when traveling!

Most airlines are pretty rigid about luggage limits, and those extra pounds in your suitcase can lead to soaring fees when you get to the check-in counter. To keep your wallet in better shape, it’s all about packing smart. Think about what you truly need while you’re away.

Try to mix and match some outfits, and remember that most hotels you’ll stay in will have laundry facilities. Tools like a luggage scale and packing cubes are also lifesavers and will help you stay within weight limits and organized.

Hidden travel expense: Currency exchange flops

To avoid this financial faux pas, try to stay away from those currency exchange booths at hotels and airports, where convenience dramatically raises costs. Instead, think like a local and find an ATM when you get to your destination.

You can also use a credit card that’s friendly to travelers without those irritating foreign transaction fees. This is more like paying what the locals pay, which usually means more bang for your buck.

Hidden travel expense: Traveling at the wrong times

Even though joining the summer travel frenzy or the holiday rush might sound tempting, you’ll likely end up paying much more for accommodations, flights, and even local attractions. So, you should consider the magic of the shoulder season instead.

This is the time just before or after peak season. You’ll get to enjoy milder weather and fewer crowds. But most importantly, you’ll benefit from lower prices on almost everything from airfare to hotel rooms.

Hidden Travel Expense
Photo by Tooykrub at Shutterstock

Hidden travel expense: Expensive trinkets from gift shops

The easiest way to throw away your money while on any vacation is in the gift shop. Generally, the coffee mug, shot glass, or indigenous mask you splurge on winds up in a box, collecting dust right after you get back from your trip.

Most tourist destinations have souvenir shops that charge much higher prices for their products compared to the local stores outside the tourist hotspots.

And the truth is that many travelers often waste money buying souvenirs like t-shirts, keychains, and magnets at these over-priced boutiques.

So we recommend comparing prices at different shops before buying anything, which will help you make a more informed decision. And if you really need that “I Love Italy” t-shirt, Amazon can help you out!

Have you considered any of these hidden travel expenses when traveling? Be sure to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

And if you liked this article, we highly recommend you also read: Top 12 Most Boring US Destinations People Say You Shouldn’t Visit

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