Seven travel money wasters

Take advantage of these travellers’ experiences and give your wallet a holiday too.

Good money going to waste straight down the drain

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?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    5th Jul 2017
    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.
    5th Jul 2017
    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!
    5th Jul 2017
    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
    5th Jul 2017
    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.
    5th Jul 2017
    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.,
    Old Geezer
    5th Jul 2017
    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.
    5th Jul 2017
    Travel cards are great, you can either fix the rate by purchasing the currency or risk the fluctuations.
    Old Geezer
    5th Jul 2017
    ...and very costly.
    5th Jul 2017
    Costly? How so?
    Old Geezer
    5th Jul 2017
    Travel cards has less bang for their buck of all currency conversions. Have you ever wondered why banks promote them so heavily? Yes that's right they make more money out of them than anything else.
    5th Jul 2017
    Not if you buy them from non bank outlets. You get a better rate than the banks and the same rate at which the cash is sold. If you find the right retailer, a reload will also be available with zero surcharge, as long as you do the research and make sure you know what you're getting and paying for.
    Old Geezer
    6th Jul 2017
    I own the cheapest one of these travel cards and it is the most expensive money I can get when overseas. They are a real con.
    5th Jul 2017
    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.

    5th Jul 2017
    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!

    5th Jul 2017
    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?
    5th Jul 2017
    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.
    23rd Sep 2017
    Travel cards are to be avoided like the plague for Old Geezer`s reasons.
    14th Oct 2017
    If you have good strong legs, masses of stamina, good weather and plenty of time, exploring on your own is great.

    However have found it very time consuming trying to find the way with maps and hanging about at bus-stops and train stations waiting for delayed transport often in inclement weather when I have planned to get a lot of sight-seeing done.

    Sometimes the easiest and quickest way is to take a tour and its great when a bus drops you off right outside the place you want to see. The Hop on Hop off bus tours in London are a great way to get about. And there are many other cities which offer a similar service.

    With regard to going up lifts in buildings to enjoy views - you just can't do that very often. Security is very tight these days and you just cannot get near lifts without a pass.
    2nd Dec 2017
    Don't bank on being able to get to the top of any building to get the view for nothing. Security is pretty tight these days in most places and you can't get near the lifts unless you can show a reason other than sightseeing.
    And, some management committees have realised that sightseers can be a money maker so they charge you to go up in their lifts.
    2nd Dec 2017
    Don't bank on being able to get to the top of any building to get the view for nothing. Security is pretty tight these days in most places and you can't get near the lifts unless you can show a reason other than sightseeing.
    And, some management committees have realised that sightseers can be a money maker so they charge you to go up in their lifts.

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