Seven travel money wasters

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It’s no secret that travel can be expensive. Many travellers who return from an overseas trip will say it’s money well spent, but there’s always some head-scratching receipts mixed amongst the ones that were worth it. So why not take advantage of these travellers’ experiences and give your wallet a holiday when you next travel by avoiding these travel money wasters?

1. High-end eating
Sure, it’s nice to treat yourself to a special meal, but every meal doesn’t have to be expensive. Head out for the street food, or use an app such as Yelp, Foursquare or Trip Advisor to find local restaurants that are not so expensive but still get good reviews. Or you could ask the concierge and hotel staff where they like to eat. Not only will you get a healthy dose of local culture, but you may save a bundle, and make some friends in the process.

Local markets are also a good place to find nice, cheap and tasty food, and if you are near a pier try the seafood straight from the boat. You could choose to grab a pizza from the piazza and eat it on a park bench instead of inside the restaurant, or order in some Thai food to your hotel.

The next time you book a hotel, find one with a kitchenette so you can prepare some easy meals and spend the money you save on room service on a nice bottle of red instead.

2. Paying high currency conversion fees
Do your research and find a prepaid travel card instead of using your everyday bankcard. Most banks charge around two to three per cent on overseas transactions, so save yourself a heap by using a cash passport or travel bank card instead.

And stay away from the money exchange at foreign airports. Even if they say they don’t charge fees or commissions, they will most likely have massive fees built into the exchange rate. You’re better off using your normal bankcard at any ATM than using the bureau de change at airports.

3. Steer clear of group tours at popular tourist traps
If you’re in a foreign land and don’t have a handle on the language or are worried about safety, then a group tour can be a great experience. But if you find yourself in Rockefeller Plaza in New York, don’t bother paying someone to show you what you can see for free – or at least a lot less than the tour charge.

There are some great travel apps for some of the bigger tourist attractions, most of which will show or tell you the history of the site and may even show you suggested routes for a self-guided tour. Your travel guidebook, Wikipedia or Google are great for background information on many sites around the world, and if they fail, ask the lovely locals for information. So save your money on a tour and explore the sites yourself.

4. Use public transport
Unless you’re in a big city where cabs are very affordable, why not live like a local and catch a bus or a train? Many of the larger cities have amazing public transport systems with cheap travel passes and using them over more expensive taxis can save you loads when getting around town.

Sometimes a bus or train will take you across country for far less money than the cost of a flight and in not much more time than air flight would take. So do your research and find an option that suits you, your timeframe and your budget.

5. Paying to reduce car insurance excess
If you’re hiring a car whilst overseas, then paying the extra money to lower the excess on your insurance may be a good idea. But the way travel insurance is set up these days may mean you are already covered. It’s best to read your product disclosure statement on your insurance cover before signing off on and paying for unnecessary car insurance and excess fees.

6. Seeing the city from up on high
Why pay $40 to traipse to the top of the Empire State Building to see the city from above, when you could hop in a lift in an office building or hotel of equivalent height and see the same sites for free?

7. Filling your suitcase with souvenirs
It’s nice to buy a few souvenirs for yourself, your friends and family, but before each purchase ask yourself: “Do I really need this?” or, my favourite, “Will this just end up being landfill?”

Your friends and family will be no less thankful for having you home if you don’t bring them a souvenir, instead,why not save the money and take them out to lunch to tell them about your journey and show some photos? It’s the memories that will last longer than a light-up pen from Paris.

Do you know of any other ways to save on travel? Do you know of any more holiday money wasters that our members could avoid? Why not share them?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?



Total Comments: 20
  1. 0

    4. The Empire State building is well worth the ticket – just for the Art Deco architecture and step back into history. How often do you get to NY after all and the empire state building is iconic – not the view.
    5. Car insurance – ugh yes – you could almost buy an old car instead except for the inconvenience.
    6. Souvenirs – Yep – a waste of weight, space and money but the cheapest way to say thanks for minding the pet, mail, house etc. – and always good to rub it in somebody’s nose that you have just been OS only topped by FB photos. Thank heavens they don’t have slides anymore.

    • 0

      Yes very true re the empire state building. I was there in for the second time in may and the architecture is amazing, even if you’re not into building design. The ESB is truly iconic and no wonder its the most popular building in NYC, not only for foreigners but also Americans. There’s a detailed history of the construction and an atmosphere which cannot be experienced from any other building. Worth the money? Absolutely!

  2. 0

    travellers cheques a no no.. prepaid cards a no no because high fees .. we just used our ordinary debit card … no dramas .. came to a machine with a $200 limit ..withdrew the $200 cost $2 at machine.. kept us going for a while… carried a little cash to start with …. did our own thing .. did some tours including a 7day bus tour of national parks…9 states,7days,5 national parks and including Crazy Horse, Mt Rushmore, Bear park…7 nights accommodation..$384 per person… but mostly we just winged it on our own advice around on line BEFORE you go there…see whats about and how much it costs

  3. 0

    Yes you can see sights by yourself for free but totally write off a group tour. Most places have city walking tours that are generally very reasonable (and sometimes free) and you get a wealth of information and a better cultural insight from the tour guide than from Google tours.

  4. 0

    Love the idea of taking your loved ones and friends out for lunch and regaling them with first hand details of your trip and showing them photos and stories that go with them. We all have interesting stories to tell from our trips, I know we do !~ Much better than a model of the Eiffel Tower or Taj Mahal etc.,

  5. 0

    Those prepaid travel cards are one of the most expensive ways to go. Credit cards work out the cheapest for me for purchases and debit cards for cash out of ATMs. Know you cash rates to exchange cash as the rates even vary form bank to bank.

  6. 0

    Travel cards are great, you can either fix the rate by purchasing the currency or risk the fluctuations.

  7. 0

    Why not mix it up? Local tours can be good but I find reviewed Tours from sites like Viator or Trip Advisor to be good value (I have personally used Viator 20+ times and all good except 1 which ended in a refund). Public transport is good for quick movements through cities but I regret using the underground too much in Rome in particular. As with all there is good and bad in all methods so test to find what works for you 🙂 Enjoy the travel is the main thing.

  8. 0

    Most of the tips seem to spoil the enjoyment. If you are so keen to avoid expenses, don’t go! Simply drive down to the local beach, as we have plenty of great ones in Australia – and maybe buy fish & chips if you don’t mind spending at least that much!

  9. 0

    We encountered a strange problem. Paid for our hotel in Dublin by debit card, caught the ferry to Holyhead in Wales and tried to pay for a hire car with the same debit card which refused to work. Thankfully the wife’s card worked so no real dramas. When we got home we were told that it was a safety feature that you can’t use the debit card in two countries in a short space of time. Anyone else have this happen?

  10. 0

    So your friends say you have been to New York did you go up to the top of the Empire State Building and you say no we went up the one next to it cause it was free.

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