We’ve all been there. That moment when you look back on your trip and wonder how in the world you managed to overspend your budget by so much! Was there fault in your planning? Did you completely black out when you envisaged your budget? Did you get robbed in the night, sleep walk to the local ATM, and then withdraw more money to replace your deficit? Although none of these options are implausible, we do think we have a slightly better explanation to your mysterious (and terrifying) budget overspending: you’re human and you made some simple travel mistakes.
But don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Here’s a list of the 6 most commonly-made (and expensive) travel mistakes and how to avoid them:
You Made a Booking Boo-boo
We get it, sometimes things come up and you have no choice but to change or cancel your flight. In any case, we can’t emphasize enough just how important it is to take some extra time out to read the fine print and those dreaded Terms and Conditions on cancellation/exchange policies. Hidden fees are, unfortunately, pretty common, so the least you can do for yourself is prepare for the fiscal damage you may have to do to your wallet if you need to switch or cancel your flight.
No matter how travel savvy you are or how strategically you planned for those tight timings between connections, travel is always unpredictable and missing a flight is a nightmare (and yes, you guessed it, expensive)! Between rebooking, potentially losing paying for meals while you wait, and potentially even having to reserve a hotel room for the night, missed flight mishaps may mean you have to dish out some extra cash. When planning your itinerary, make sure you factor in time zone differences, give yourself enough time between connecting flights (we suggest a minimum of 90-120 minutes), and if you’re flying to or from a city with multiple major airports (ie: JFK or LaGuardia in NYC), make sure you triple check that you’ve booked and are headed to the right one!
You Forgot to Check the Baggage Allowance
When it comes to baggage, ask yourself these three basic questions: do I need to check a bag? How much will it cost me to check a bag? What is the weight limit for each piece of luggage? Some airlines can be quite tricky about baggage allowance. If you find that you must check luggage make sure to do so online, as the fees can more than double once you reach the airport.
Don’t forget to also check the weight limit! Most airlines strap on heavy fees to overweight luggage. If your suitcase is too heavy, while you try to lighten the weight of your bags, you might be lightening the weight of your wallet too! The good news is that even the airlines that charge for checked or carry-on luggage, they still allow for a free personal item. Small backpacks, purses, and briefcases are free — so maximize that space if you can!
You Purchased the Onboard Wifi to Stream Videos or Music
Unless it’s for that project or presentation you’re scrambling to finish by the time you land, you’re probably only purchasing that onboard WiFi to stream your favorite show or music station. If this is you… stop right there, because this isn’t a cost you need to incur! Premium versions of music radios or podcast stations like Spotify and Pandora have downloadable options for their media, which enable you to listen to all your favorites, offline. Similarly, Netflix and YouTube now offer the option to download full videos ahead of time, meaning you can watch those last few episodes of that show you’ve been binging on, while you’re up in the clouds and venturing off to your destination.
You Didn’t Eat Before Your Flight
…and now you’re stuck on the plane swiping your credit card for a bag of potato chips and a ginger ale to suffice as a meal (because you can’t afford anything else). One of the simplest solutions to shaving off a few dollars from your travel expenses is to make sure your belly is full before you embark on your flight. If you’re on an extra tight budget eat a full meal at home before you head to the airport and pack some snacks to munch on while you wait to board (and for the plane too, if you’re flying domestic). Chances are that you’re going to pay anywhere between $8-$15 dollars on that half of a (soggy) veggie wrap, or for any of the other unsatisfying meal choices. Yikes!
You Didn’t Change Your Cell Phone Plan
If you didn’t post hourly updates on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, did you even travel? On a more serious note, chances are that cell phone of yours is also going to come in pretty handy when you’re lost and trying to find directions back to your hotel! We don’t want you to end up like the British teenager that racked up a phone bill over $3000 on her vacation! We know you’re going to need your phone, so check with your cell phone provider about international plans and rates. Some companies have one-time data packages for as little as $2 a day!
You Didn’t Purchase Travel Insurance
Now that your bags are all packed, you’ve settled your bookings and have done all your due diligence for your itinerary and cell phone plan, you’re ready to go, right? Almost! One of the least obvious and most important things to “pack” for your next trip is a travel insurance plan! We know, we know… we’re supposed to be showing you ways to save your money, so why are we telling you to spend it? Because emergencies happen and medical bills are expensive! Travel insurance often covers emergency cancellations, so you’re not losing out on hundreds of dollars. If your own health insurance company doesn’t provide any coverage, many travel plans cover emergency medical costs or have the option to purchase such coverage. So just think: paying a little extra now, could save you hundreds of dollars, later!
Whoopsies! Have you made any travel mistakes that have cost you a pretty penny? Share your expensive travel faux pas with us in the comments below (and then go ahead and book that trip already!)