Seemingly tiny expenses can add up quickly when you’re traveling. And often it’s money that’s better spent elsewhere.
Ways You’re Throwing Money Away While Traveling
Here are seven expenses you can (and should) avoid paying for on your next trip.
Foreign Transaction and ATM Fees
Paying to use your own money is often an infuriating consequence of traveling abroad, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re still paying fees for making foreign transactions, it’s time to switch banks—there are plenty that don’t charge youto use your card overseas.
As for ATM fees, be wise about when and where you take out money. The best option is to visit your bank before you travel, when you can switch your currency virtually free of charge. But, if you do have to withdraw money at your destination, do it in as few transactions as possible. Withdrawing one large sum will save you from paying multiple fees on withdrawals. Just make sure to keep large amounts of cash in a safe spot.
Tip: Talk to someone—a real person, not a machine—at your bank before you leave. They could answer questions you didnât even know you had about spending money abroad.
Not Checking Prices After Purchasing
One common mistake people make when booking flights and lodging is thinking the task is done once they complete their purchase. Many airlines allow you to cancel your purchase for no charge within 24 hours, which means you can re-book your flight if the price drops during that period. This could potentially save you a lot of money.
Hotel prices can also drop after you book them, but it’s harder to keep your eye on those fluctuations. The solution? Book with an online travel agent (OTA) site like Tingo, which automatically refunds you the difference if the rate drops below what you paid. Earning money back for doing absolutely nothing isn’t a bad way to start a trip.
Tip: Many hotels don’t tally rewards points for hotel bookings through Tingo, so if you’re a loyal member you might want to keep an eye on the rate yourself.
Editor’s note: Tingo is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network, which aslo operates SmarterTravel.
Checking a Bag
Over-packing is a common problem, but in an age of increasing airline baggage fees, it’s more than just inconvenient—it’s costly. Traveling without checking a bag is relatively easy if you maximize your carry-on and personal item capabilities.
Tip: Checking a bag on only one of your two flights can be considered a small victory. Don’t decide to check one both ways just because you plan on bringing back some items that violate the 3-1-1 guidelines—just check your carry-on for the flight home.
Staying in Hotels
Places with a high cost of living typically have pricey hotels, too. But often these same destinations will be a hub for free housesitting opportunities. Yes, free.
Joining a house- or pet-sitting site like TrustedHousesitters for under $100 is a small investment when you consider the money it could save you in the long run. For example, pricey London is one of the biggest housesitting hubs in the world. Pet lovers flock to sites like TrustedHousesitters, which is full of homes and apartments from the U.S. and U.K. to South Africa and New Zealand. If you’d rather a pet-free residence, Airbnb is a cheap alternative to hotels in many expensive cities as well.
Eating exclusively at restaurants isn’t just unhealthy—it’s expensive. As housesitting and Airbnb become more popular, however, it’s more common than ever to have access to a kitchen and the opportunity to cook meals. This is good news for people who want to save money (and calories). Check out the local culinary scene and cheap eats by all means, but not every meal has to be one that’s heavy on your wallet.
Tip: Subscribe to restaurant deals near your destination through websites like Groupon and LivingSocial to get offers that will make you feel less guilty about dining at a trendy restaurant. Just be sure to tip based on the restaurant’s bill.
Driving or Taking Cabs
The best way to explore a city is by walking or taking public transit, both for your health and your wallet. Don’t fall for cheap car rentals in other countries—the difference in gasoline prices can be a huge drawback to that plan.
Taking cabs is also an unnecessary habit that’s sure to drain your wallet. Public transportation, walking, or even taking an Uber are all more cost effective. Save your cab money for the off-chance that you end up running late to the airport to catch your flight home. If you opt for public transit, find out what the best payment option is—many cities have discounted smart-card passes available.
Tip: Walking is a great way to stay fit, but you’ll only want to opt for a stroll in neighborhoods and during times of day that it’s safe. Ask your concierge or host about walkable areas with plenty of things to do.
Ignoring Rewards Programs
File rewards programs under “always do”—whether it’s for airlines or lodging. Even if you don’t think you’ll be a returning customer, you’ve got nothing to lose. Tallying up enough of those points can happen faster than you think, and some programs offer inside deals or freebies just for signing up. From monthly wine deals with Virgin America to private concerts with Hilton, many rewards memberships are worth the seconds it takes to sign up.
The same goes for rewards memberships you might have and are not asking about. AAA member? Student? Active military? Senior? Always ask what discounts companies offer.
Tip: If you’re trying to earn points, make sure you read the fine print and book directly with the company. Many hotel chains and airlines don’t count them if you book through a third-party site.
More From SmarterTravel:
- 10 Countries Where the Dollar Goes Furthest in 2018
- 5 Common Travel Insurance Questions, Answered
- 9 Times You’ll Regret Being Cheap When You Travel
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2016. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.
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