Along with the joys of traveling often come the unexpected obstacles, one of these being hidden fees, expenditures, and costs. Some of these hidden money-nabbing techniques can happen right under your nose. Although many of these may seem obvious, they are characteristics of travel that people often overlook. The best way to save money on these things is to avoid them altogether, but that’s easier said than done. From personal experience, these costs can certainly add up very, very quickly. Of course, everyone wants to save money, so by preventing these excess costs, you can spend your valuable money elsewhere.
In my experiences, here are some of the most common “hidden costs” of international travel, as well as some suggestions on how to avoid them:
5. Cell Coverage If you are planning to bring a cell phone from your home country, be sure you visit your cellular provider’s web site and determine how much calling, texting, and data cost. More importantly, TURN OFF all of the settings you do not use. For example, if you are not planning on using data, then shut off cellular data and location services on your phone. Be very careful with this, because international roaming can rack up an extremely pricey phone bill. If all else fails, keep your phone on airplane or wifi mode throughout your trip.
4. Overweight Baggage This one is easy to avoid, but you need to plan ahead. Usually the baggage weight limit is 40-50 pounds for international flights. If you want to avoid paying an oversize fee or throwing away some of your valuable stuff, I would suggest investing in a luggage scale. They’re cheap, portable, and can save your lots of money if you think you might be approaching the bag weight limits.
3. Money Exchange This one simply involves doing your research. Many exchange kiosks will try to scam you with hidden commission fees, steep exchange rates, and “enticing” offers. Knowing the real exchange rate before you go to another country will help you judge whether a deal is right for you. Of course, rarely if ever will an exchange desk exchange at the true rate, but try your best to find the closest rate you can. Often, kiosks located outside of major tourist areas will generally offer better rates.
2. Taxis Let me preface this by saying not all taxi drivers are scam artists; in fact, most of them are simply doing their job. However, it is easy to get scammed by a taxi driver, especially one that does not belong to a specific, reputable company. If possible, try to speak to the taxi driver in the language spoken locally. If that is not possible, make sure you keep an eye on where you’re going. If you feel like your cab driver is taking you “the long way,” kindly ask to be let out and catch another one. I have once been scammed out of the equivalent of ten dollars over the necessary amount – don’t let this be you!
1. Getting Pickpocketed The worst, and I mean absolute worst way to lose money is to have it stolen from you. Keep your wallet and valuable documents (passport, ID, credit cards, etc.) on your body in a place that is difficult for a passer-by to access. If someone from the street tries to come near you with an excuse like “I want to show you a magic trick” or “Sir, you have some dirt on your jacket,” simply walk away, keeping an eye (or, even better, a hand) on your important belongings and money. I would suggest investing in a money belt or some kind of case that makes it easy to keep your valuables right next to your body. And, most importantly, don’t ever lose sight of them.