A lot of people save up for a vacation once or twice a year. Some just go to places within the country while some go to international destinations. As a budget-savvy traveler, the first thing to do is to research deals diligently to save on airline tickets and hotel stays.
If you think saving money ends there, think again. There are some other budget traps that you might encounter during your vacation. You might be blowing your budget on overpriced items and unnecessary purchases. Here are some of those traps to watch out for.
Books and magazines from the airport bookstore
Never buy reading materials from the airport. They cost way, way higher than your favorite bookstore or magazine stand. Borrow from the library or download free e-books. You can also buy $1 e-books or free Kindle books to download on your e-book reader or mobile device.
Most budget flights are during the wee hours of the morning or very late into the night. You usually get hungry during these flights, and it’s very tempting to buy the sandwiches and hot soups that are being offered by the flight attendants. It’s especially difficult to resist them once people start eating the hot meals and the delicious smells just waft through the air.
The reality is that plane food is overpriced. Bottled water alone can cost around 50% more when you buy it from the plane. Most airplane foods are also not very healthy. To save money, prepare your snacks and/or meals before leaving. Make your favorite healthy sandwiches, slice some fruit such as apples or orange wedges, boil some eggs, pack baby carrots or celery sticks and dips.
While you can no longer carry bottles of water through security, you can bring empty water bottles through and fill them up at water filling stations in the airport terminals.
If you don’t have time to prepare or you’re very lazy to do so, just buy some granola or energy bars, dried fruit, and nuts, and you’re all set. Spend your money discovering new cuisines in your destination.
In-flight paid TV
Several airlines are now offering their passengers a choice to watch TV during their flight for a fee, of course. The price is around 5 to 8 dollars. In general, don’t watch TV on the plane. Just bring a portable movie player or use your laptop to watch a movie.
You can also just read a book or magazine. You can also take this time to get some sleep and start giving your body the rest that it needs. You can take advantage of the quiet time to reflect on your decisions and choices about life, career, love, and relationships. There are many things you can do for free during your flight.
Hotel room snacks
If you get hunger pangs in the middle of the night, try to stay away from the snack or mini bar in your hotel room. They usually offer chocolate bars, cookies, crackers, and other snacks. They also have soda and some alcoholic drinks. Be wary of picking up items in the mini-bar or snack-bar in your hotel room. They are often weighted and you’ll be automatically charged within a few seconds time just for picking up the item. You cannot eat one of the snacks and then replace it by purchasing one elsewhere the next day.
Do not be tempted to open that $5 bag of cookies when you can get it for a dollar at a convenience store. To prepare for these late night hunger pangs, go to the supermarket during the day and stock up on snacks, soda, juice, water, etc.
If you are really on a tight budget, you can also buy prepared meals to eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner. You should make the supermarket trip a priority on your first day of vacation.
Another budget trap is room service. When you are tired from a full day of shopping and sightseeing, it’s easy to plop down on the bed, reach for the phone and order room service. Sure it’s nice to have meals in bed but are they worth the price?
Hotel food is usually overpriced and they typically add a delivery and service charge. The better option is to order take-away from a nearby restaurant before going up to your room. You can also rest for a while and walk to the restaurant or café for cheaper eats.
International withdrawals are charged an extra 2-10 dollars. Make sure you have enough money before you leave. You should also exchange currencies in the airport where the prices are competitive. You can be sure that you won’t get fake money as well.
If you missed the currency exchange booth in the airport, find government-accredited money exchange places. You can find them by browsing through the country’s website. If you really need to make a withdrawal, visit a bank that’s affiliated with your local bank.
Now that you are a smarter traveler, you can fully enjoy your vacation and spend money on things that really matter to you.