Don't get caught out by unexpected travel expenses. Be proactive with these tips!
If you love traveling, chances are you have booked a flight to one of your bucket list destinations without really thinking it all through. Or maybe you’ve finally taken the plunge and booked your first trip away on adventure. Whilst we at Travelher.org encourage this kind of behavior to the utmost degree, we want to make sure you have the best time possible by giving you a heads up on some of those annoying expenses that may come up and surprise you. Some of these may save you money, others will just take the sting out of the shock because you know it’s coming.
Before you go
1. Travel insurance. Depending on where you go and how long you are going for, travel insurance could cost you a couple hundred dollars give or take. It’s always more if you are traveling in the US. You might consider going without it. What are the chances, right? From personal experience I can tell you it’s worth it. In Australia, I ended up in the hospital for three days with a severe throat infection which would have cost me a couple thousand if I didn’t have it. Also, if you’re going to be renting scooters or plan on any risky behavior, make sure your policy includes it. Accidents happen and insurers try their best to avoid paying for it, so be smart. For instance, many travelers aren't informed that if they are injured while they are in any way intoxicated, your travel insurance is voided. This means that not only are your hospital bills not covered, but neither are the flights you missed, the rooms you rented, or the vacation packages that you reserved.
2. Vaccinations and medications. Getting sick while overseas is the absolute worst so it’s a good idea to visit the doctor to protect yourself (as much as possible) from any diseases whilst abroad. Whether you need to top up the usual vaccinations or prepare for some hard core jungle backpacking, ask your doctor what you need for the area to which you are traveling. Yellow fever maybe? Hepatitis vax? Malaria pills? Some countries even require you to have a certificate proving you have been vaccinated prior to entry. Depending on where you are going and what you need, this could also cost a couple hundred dollars.
3. Regular medications, contacts, etc. If you’re going on a long term trip, you may need to stock up beforehand with a supply of contact lenses, contraceptives and/or any other medications you must have on a regular basis. As a lump sum, this could add up to a few doubloons.
4. Visas. Depending on what country you are from and where you are visiting, you may need to pay for a visa to enter. China, for example, requires you to sort your visa in advance of arrival and could cost up to a couple hundred dollars. You also may need a visa just to have a layover in a certain country. This must be sorted before you go, or you could find yourself paying to be rerouted through a different country and paying for the change. This happened to my Swedish friends flying through the US to the Bahamas and they had to reroute through Amsterdam and Colombia on their own dime.
5. Onward tickets. Many countries require visitors to present evidence that they will be leaving in the allotted time of which their traveler’s visa allows. This means that if your visa is for three months as an example, you will be required to show a ticket departing the country before that time is up. If you don’t know how long you are staying, buy the cheapest bus ticket you can find so that you have something to show but won’t suffer financially. If you’re forced to book something under pressure at the airport, (like a flight out for example) this could cost you a pretty penny.
6. Luggage/adaptors. With weight restrictions on planes and different power points in foreign countries, you need to have the right equipment to head off on your adventure. Try to plan ahead by borrowing the right stuff, purchasing it online or on sale and generally avoiding the day-before panic and buying frenzy that often ensues when packing last minute.
7. Storage/shipping. For those long term adventurers, don’t forget about storing stuff while you’re away. If you don’t have family or friends with lots of space, you may need to rent a storage unit to keep your goods intact. This usually is not cheap! If you plan on taking a heap of stuff, don’t forget to factor in the cost of sending it over an ocean - also not the cheapest but sometimes has to be done.
This may be a lot to think about but once you’re on the plane, all of the pre-trip excitement bubbles over and the stress begins to melt away. Especially when you are well prepared!
After you arrive
8. Visitors fees. In some countries, you have to pay a visitor’s tax as soon as you arrive, others when you leave. Bali for example, requires you to pay upon entry. Last time I was there it was roughly USD$25. I’d suggest figuring out what the exchange rate is before you arrive, and don’t make the mistake we did by taking out 10,000 rupiah from the machine which turned out to be the equivalent of about USD$5 - the same amount it cost to take it out of the machine in the first place. Doh.
9. Phone/Internet charges. Whether you are traveling for a couple of weeks or a few months, staying connected is often a priority for modern travelers. Whether you pay for a sim card to have a functional cell phone, use your own phone and pay long distance charges or try your best to find proper wifi, chances are this is going to cost some dollah dollah bills yall. As an internet addict myself, I say just go for the highest limit the first time and don’t lie to yourself about how much you don’t need it ;)
10. Tips. If you’re coming from a non-tipping country (Australia or New Zealand for example) heading to North or South America, you would do best to remember the custom of tipping when calculating your daily budget. Ask the locals when tips are necessary and how much people usually give. In Chile, for example, grocery baggers and parking officials work on tips, whereas in Canada it’s mostly wait staff and cab drivers who take gratuities.
11. Tolls. If you’ve rented a car and are driving overland, don’t forget to look into the toll situation. In Chile, for example, there are quite a few tolls so it is best to have several small bills on you to stay on your merry way.
12. High season/scheduling. If you’re visiting a country during the most popular tourist season, you may find yourself spending a few extra days in places while waiting for buses, ferries or planes to have space for you. Prices may go up in general due to high demand. Plan what you can and try your best to expect the unexpected.
How about you? Have you run into any unexpected expenses whilst traveling that we missed here? Let us know about them in the comments.
Author - Meghan Advent
Meg is one of the co-creators of Travelher and lives and breathes travel. She recently left her full time office role to put more energy into her own projects and is currently travelling through Chile while working remotely.