Seven travel money wasters

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?

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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