There’s nothing more exciting than an upcoming vacation. You might be set to explore an unfamiliar part of the world or just relax on the beach, but there’s a good chance you aren’t as prepared as you think. Your carefully budgeted trip — or so you believe — could end up draining your bank account.
The world of travel is filled with financial pitfalls and grifters looking to make a buck off of your naiveté. But don’t fall for it. By keeping an eye out for these common mistakes and traps, you can be sure that your big holiday is memorable for all the right reasons.
1. Roaming Charges: When you’re glued to your phone during a faraway vacation, you may experience some trouble in paradise. Check whether your plan allows for calls and texts outside your territory, or kiss your souvenir funds goodbye.
2. Souvenir Money: No vacation is complete without a few knick-knacks purchased to remember the experience. Just remember to budget for a few novelties for yourself and loved ones, as few can resist the call of the gift shop.
3. Emergency Funds: Even on the best-planned trip, things can go wrong. Whether you face an unexpected medical expense or lose some vital belongings, you should always have a little cash on hand for such occasions.
4. Seat Selection: We get it. Nobody wants to be stuck on a long plane ride on the seat with no legroom. Still, you’re going to want to read the fine print before you switch to another row.
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Many airlines hide the cost of upgrading your seat until you’re in too deep. Once you see how expensive your new window seat can be, you’ll scream like there’s a monster on your plane.
5. Resort Fees: A lovely afternoon lazing by the pool is the worst time to realize that your hotel is ripping off. Some of the sleazy tricks they use will make you want to drop dead.
On top of your regular room rate, resorts will add all kinds of “luxury” expenses to your bill. Even asking for extra towels or pillows might cost you. And don’t even think about touching the minibar!
6. Tipping: Customs for how much money you should leave for good service varies by country. Of course, you always want to be polite without leaving an unnecessarily exorbitant tip at a casual cafe.
And on the other hand, it’s a terrible look if you shortchange your waiter at a fancy restaurant. Nobody likes a miser. So always tip as if Gordon Ramsey is about to march out of the kitchen and yell at you.
7. Credit Card Fees: You might want to apply for a fresh card or two before you head abroad. Certain types will slap you with penalties if you use them abroad, so you’ll want to find a piece of plastic you can swipe anywhere.
8. Booking Over The Phone: Though most of us have become completely addicted to the Internet, some folks prefer to make accommodations over an old-fashioned phone call. However, some services charge up to $25 for booking over the phone! Only Gordon Gekko can afford that needless extravagance.
9. ATM Fees: Woe be to the traveler who withdraws money from another bank’s ATM. Many charge fees, and these payments really add up. Either find an ATM run by your bank or carry enough cash to last you through the trip.
However, be careful. Should you choose to carry a lot of money throughout your vacation, keep it in a safe place like a hotel safe or neck wallet. Pickpockets can’t resist a tourist wandering around with a fat wallet sticking out.
10. Gypsy Cabs: Wherever you go, don’t climb into an unmarked taxi. These gypsy cabs don’t have to follow all the rules of official companies, meaning that they can charge you however much they feel like.
11. Baggage Fees: Your airline bill often isn’t limited to your seat. If you bring an extra carry-on or pack a checked bag that exceeds the weight limit, you’ll likely be emptying out your wallet. But you can get around these costs.
The Arrival Store
Signing up for an airline-affiliated credit card allows you to circumvent these baggage fees. Apart from that, you can always lighten your bag by wearing all of your clothes at once.
12. Hotel Wifi: While most of us are now accustomed to receiving free Wifi in our rooms, you have to be careful. Some chains may place time limits on free service or try to upcharge you for a faster connection.
13. Visas: Contrary to what some may think, you can’t simply waltz into a foreign country with your plane ticket. Do your research because in many cases you need to purchase a visa to visit. Otherwise, you’ll be turned away at the door!
US Customs and Border Protection
14. Exchanging Currency: If you’re hopping between countries, you’ll usually need to switch out your cash for the local coin. Travel hubs have many booths where you can handle this task, but just know their services do require a fee.
Granted, a successful vacation is as much about comfort as it is about saving money. Once you have your full itinerary set, there are some low-key genius travel hacks you can try to make your hotel stay feel like pure bliss.
1. Call Front Desk: With oodles of comparison sites claiming to get the best bargain, customers miss out on direct, from-the-source deals. You can book online, but by calling you can ask if the hotel can do better than the online prices.
2. Tell Them Why You’re There: Now don’t get paranoid. Hospitality people actually want to make you happy. Share the reason for your visit with the front desk. That way, you might be surprised with spontaneous upgrades or bonus goodies.
Best Life Qatar
3. Resell, Don’t Cancel: Cancelation fees are the final kick in the pants you don’t need when you have to miss a long-awaited trip. Take advantage of services like Cancelon, which let you rebook your room to someone else to earn some of your deposit back.
4. Combine Frequent Flyer: Some travelers are willing to spend more money in return for that sacred currency — frequent flyer miles. Sites like Rocketmiles allow you to bank sky points to funnel into your next getaway.
5. Best Sleep Spot: To ensure peak REM cycles, book a room mid hallway. Those rooms are furthest away from communal spaces, like the ice room and vending areas (and creepy twins). Theoretically, they’re the quietest places to catch some z’s.
6. Worst Sleep Spot: Rooms overlooking the pool area are convenient for families, but if you want any chance of restful sleep, stay clear. Kids screaming, water splashing, late night rowdy crowds, the pool attracts the noisiest of all hotel guests.
7. DIY Blackout Curtains: Still awake? That sliver of sunshine peeking through the curtains can wreck you’re easily disturbed eyes, so check the closet for hangers with clips. They work wonders for turning your room into that pitch black cave you crave.
8. White Noise: Imagine if your home AC worked as well as the arctic-tundra-creating hotel thermostat. Besides keeping your room super frosty, the high-powered AC units function as an excellent white noise machine. Crank that machine up to ensure uninterrupted sleep.
9. Humidifier Effect: For the air-quality-conscious sleeper, here’s a valuable trick. Drape a damp towel over the ironing board and place it beside the AC unit to create a makeshift humidifier that keeps the air moist.
10. Make A Mini-Bar: Yes, that $7 bottle of sparkling water looks tempting after a day of travel. But resist the mini bar and hotel prices. Pick up your beverages at the convenience store, and fill your sink or tub with ice from the machine down the hall.
11. Cook In Room: Every basic hotel room setup has the tools to whip up a meal. Ramen noodles or boiled eggs are the go-to, easily cooked in the room’s kettle or coffee pot. The bolder chef may tackle a grilled cheese, pressed via iron.
12. Kid Proof: Traveling with your kids is a challenge. Worrying about snack duty, distractions, and tons of bags is better than worrying about your child’s safety. Toddler parents, keep a roll of duct tape in your carry-on to cover outlets and soften sharp furniture corners.
The Points Guy
14. Extra Table: Ironing boards and children normally don’t mix, but in a hotel room, things change. Give the kids a place to color or an impromptu table for in-room eating. Drape a towel over the top like a tablecloth for cleanup.
15. Stream TV: Leave your HDMI cable and laptop at home where they belong. For the hotels offering WIFI, scroll the never-ending homepage of your favorite streaming service with one surprisingly affordable tool — Google Chromecast. It hooks directly into the TV and works from your smartphone.
16. Extra USB Spot: Sharing the outlets in a close-quarters hotel room can turn a family vacation sour. Keep in mind the extra USB port on the back of most hotel TVs, and charge your phone so you have something to do during a tension-filled family meal.
The Krazy Coupon Lady
17. Instant Speaker: Stick to your morning ritual of blasting an AM playlist — no electronics, cords, or money required. All you need is a cup! Plastic is preferred, but any cup will serve the purpose of a ready-made speaker.
Gotta Be Mobile
18. Wash Clothes: Forget dry cleaning! Wash your clothes from the hotel bathtub. If the tub is stopperless, fill a plastic bag with a handful of coins, and position it over the drain. That way, the water stays in so you can scrub those delicates and leave them hanging to dry.
19. Shower Cap: Another free multipurpose tool in every hotel room? The shower cap. Some suggest you use it to wrap up leftovers to store in your mini fridge. Others, slide the shower cap over their most traveled shoes to keep the rest of the suitcase uncontaminated.
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20. Steam Tools: Save time before the big business meeting by steaming your clothes the easy way — hang them near the running shower. Make sure to close the bathroom door for maximum steamage. If that’s not enough, spritz your garment with water and blast it with the hairdryer.
21. Take The Toiletries: Really, it’s the ethical choice. Otherwise, all those barely used products stack up in landfills. According to the Clean The World Health Organization, over 2 million partially used soap bars get tossed in the trash every single day, and that’s just in the US.
With all these hotel tools in your arsenal, the stay part of your trip should be somewhat-headache free. Iron out those last travel wrinkles with tips that’ll help you streamline the process before you zip that suitcase and close your front door.
1. Roll up your clothing: Space is at a premium when you are packing for a long trip. Get as much out of your suitcase as you can by rolling up your clothes when you pack them instead of folding them. It makes a real difference!
2. Put dryer sheets in your luggage: If you’re worried about your clothes smelling less than fresh once you unpack, just stick a few fresh dryer sheets into your bag! They will keep everything smelling like you just pulled it out of the laundry.
3. Make a soap pouch: If you would rather not travel lugging around your bodywash bottle from home, why not make a soap pouch? It’s very easy: just sew up a bar of your favorite brand of soap inside an old washcloth and you’re ready to get sudsy on the go!
4. Put toothpaste in empty eye drop bottles: Getting your essentials past security in a carry-on bag isn’t as easy as it used to be. To make sure that you pass inspection with flying colors, put your toothpaste inside an empty eye drop bottle.
5. Use straws to pack your jewelry: Just because you’re traveling that’s no reason not to look your best. To keep your necklaces from getting knotted, string them through a straw like this one. Just remember to remove the straw before you wear it!
6. Browse incognito: If you’re trying to book hotel or airline tickets, always make sure you have private browsing enabled before you click. These sites can tell when you’ve visited them before, and they often raise their prices accordingly.
7. Use the tray table hook: Why you’re flying, don’t forget to make use of that funny little hook on your tray table latch. It’s the perfect place to hang up your headphones or even a lightweight jacket. Talk about useful!
8. Use shower caps when you pack: When you pack a suitcase, you don’t want to have to worry about your dirty shoes sullying all of your freshly laundered clothing. Spare yourself the headache by storing your shoes inside shower caps!
9. Contact lens case storage: Those extra contact lens cases you have kicking around make great containers to store a little bit of moisturizer and foundation. This is also a convenient way to freshen up your look during super long flights.
10. Glasses case for cord storage: Even if you don’t use a glasses case regularly, investing in a cute one is a great idea. That’s because they’re the perfect size to help store all of the cords for your electronics.
11. Exercise: If you get hit with jet lag when you travel, do your best to go for a jog or do some other light exercise the day before. This will help you to relax once you’re in the air and it can make readjusting to the time change easier.
12. Straw storage: You don’t need to spend a fortune buying speciality travel cases for your toiletries. All you need are some plastic straws and tape! Fill them up with the desired amount, then label and seal them with the tape.
13. Pill case storage: If you carry a lot of jewelry when you fly, you might want to pick up a cheap pill case. These cases make for great storage for smaller items like those favorite pairs of earrings you’re always misplacing.
14. Always go left: When you’re faced with a choice of direction while waiting to go through security, always go to the left. Statistically, studies have found that the left side of the line always moves along quicker than the right.
15. Shoes for safety: If you’re traveling with something fragile like a bottle of nice wine or your favorite perfume, why not try putting it inside of one your shoes instead of leaving it loose in your suitcase? The shoe acts as a great protective barrier.
16. Pack inside your shoes: If you’re running out of space in your suitcase (and who isn’t?), try packing items like your socks and underwear inside of your shoes to save as much space as possible. It works like a dream.
17. Binder clips: If you travel with earbuds consider picking up a binder clip to keep them safe and to prevent them from forming knots in the future. Binder clips also work as a great option when it comes to covering up razor blades.
18. Emergency cash: If you’re traveling abroad, you ought to make sure that you have plenty of emergency cash. Using something like an old ChapStick container can be a great way to store cash in a place no one would think to look.
19. Maps hacks: If you use Google Maps when you travel (like so many folks out there) and you’re heading to an area without a signal or WiFi, simply type “ok maps” into your search bar to save the map of the currently displayed area.
20. Empty water bottle: Buying refreshments at the airport can be a costly endeavor, however everyone knows that traveling by air can dehydrate you. Pack an empty water bottle and fill it once you’re through security at a water fountain.
21. Buttons: If you are traveling with a few pairs of stud earrings and you don’t want to misplace them, consider storing them on a large spare button. This keeps them organized and makes the earrings much easier to find.
22. Pot holders: If you are traveling with a blow dryer or a curling or straightening iron, consider also packing a pot holder. These can be handy ways of storing your hair care appliances—and not burning yourself—when you’re on the go!
23. FourSquare: Don’t forget to check out apps like FourSquare before you try that new coffee shop. Not only will it give you a great review, but it will very often give you the WiFi passwords ahead of time.
24. Peppermint oil: It’s not uncommon for some people to become nauseated while they are traveling. Using peppermint tea for aromatherapy purposes can really help. It can also freshen your breath and banish body odor in a pinch.
25. Give back: At the end of your trip you might find yourself with currency of the country you have been visiting leftover in your pockets. Consider giving it to a worthy cause or a person who is in need. Always pay it forward!