The Hidden Costs of Travel



If you haven’t discovered yet, I am all about traveling on the cheap. And this means understanding what expenses go into a trip and how to keep that cost down as much as possible. When planning a budget, you always take into account the cost of lodging, airfare, food and major activities. But in the end, how many times have you ended up going way over your budget? All of those little unaccounted for costs add up, especially if you are traveling long term.

People often times decide to cover these surprise expenses with their “safety cash”, but why not budget for it ahead of time?! Hopefully this post will give you some insight on how to prepare your budget and avoid those extra costs.

Here’s my list of top hidden budget busters:

1. Vaccinations. At some point in your travels you will end up in a location that requires a series of vaccines. Whether it’s a malaria hot spot or a town overrun by monkeys with rabies, you don’t want to skimp on prevention. This means dishing out some serious dough. Getting a series of vaccines can cost upwards of $200. Ask your doctor what shots are absolutely necessary to get in advance, then consider waiting until you arrive abroad to buy the other vaccines at a much lower price.

2. Visas/ Entry & Exit fees. Many countries around the world require you to purchase a visa upon entry. Don’t overlook this step. Check out to research which countries need a visa and how to obtain one. Visas typically cost between $30- $100. Keep in mind, if you overstay your visa period, you will be heavily fined! You might also get slapped with a heavy fee to enter or exit the country. This can cost close to $80. Do your research!

3. Checked Baggage Fees and the Fine Print. Many regions offer some seriously cheap airfare within a certain radius. For example, Ryan Air in Europe allows you to fly to most European countries for a mere $30. So you budget $30 for each flight you plan to take. However, if you are checking a bag they will charge you an additional $20 or $30. And if you don’t bring a printed copy of your flight confirmation they will charge you at the counter. Be sure to read ALL the fine print when booking with budget airlines!

4. Alcohol. My best advice for this expenditure is to cut it out all together, but let’s be real, you aren’t going to do that. So maybe consider setting aside a small portion of your budget in advance for the sole purpose of alcohol. It adds up quick. Three drinks a night in a more developed country will likely cost you $15, which adds up if you are going out every night. In one month, drinking 3 times a week, you will easily dish out $180.

5. ATM Fees. Unless you have a fancy international debit card, you will be paying big bucks every time you withdraw money. The atm machine charges you a fee, usually about $5 usd and your bank also charges a similar fee. So you are looking at $10 every time you use the ATM. I don’t recommend withdrawing all the money you need at once because then you are a walking “please rob me” target… but definitely avoid taking out money everyday. I usually take out two weeks worth, keeping the majority of it in a safe place.

6. Airport Transfer. International airports are typically outside of the city and the transportation cost to and from is rather exuberant. On average, in many cases you can end up spending $20 for a shuttle or taxi into town. Do your research ahead of time and see if there is a bus stop nearby. I often times walk a few kilometers outside of the airport to save on cost.

To put these costs into perspective for you, in the period of 3 months you could find yourself spending $990 unrelated to daily living. That’s vaccinations, 2 visa fees, 4 airport transfers (to and from), 3 nights of drinking a week, 2 checked baggage fees and 6 ATM withdraws. That’s nearly $1,000 of unplanned expenses!

So get out your calculators and start planning for your next big trip!

What hidden costs have you ran into while traveling?

One Comment

  1. After getting charged ridiculous ATM fee’s on my last trip, I did some research for my trip and found that both Capital One 360 and Charles Schwab offer fee free checking accounts that don’t charge you ATM fee’s overseas. At least that’s what they say… I’ll find out this fall.

    I also found that many hostels in Europe offer a shuttle to the airport for only 1 euro.

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