Sneaky Travel Expenses You Don’t Expect…

If you’re anything like me, you leave for a trip with all your savings and plans and think, “there’s no way I’ll spend all this, but I’ll bring it just in case.” Somehow I’ve ended a lot of trips saying, “where did it all go?!” There are always little expenses popping up that get passed over in planning and they’ve caught my bank account by surprise plenty of times!

sneaky travel expenses - zero dollars


Once you’ve booked flights, insurance and accommodation, the temptation is definitely to say “great, now I only need food money”. However, if you’re going on a trip that involves travel of anything over a 20 minute walk, chances are you’ll be copping a taxi or a tuk tuk most days. Not to mention that public transport gets more expensive when you’re buying one off tickets. Four dollars a day for tuk-tuks or trains might not seem like much, but over a two week trip that’s still more than a fifty.

sneaky travel expenses - transportation


You do your standard ‘day-before’ checks. Passport, wallet, booking confirmation….oh, what? We need visas?! Visas are one of those things that you don’t think about until you realise the country you’re going to needs one, particularly if you’re just traveling by ground. They’re also often up around the 50 dollar range, and if you’re visiting a few countries that require one, it adds up pretty fast! It’s something that’s worth checking out when you first book the trip.

sneaky travel expenses - visas

Losing, wearing out and breaking stuff you actually do need

I try not to get too fussed about losing or breaking stuff while I’m away. If you have good insurance, you can usually claim it and buy it again anyway. Every so often though, you lose something that you actually need, like your snow gloves, charger or sunnies. These are things that are actually going to make your holiday less enjoyable or considerably harder, so you’ve kind of got to replace them straight away. I’ve been on a trip where I lost: regular glasses, sunglasses, my scarf, a bank card, and just the one glove. It’s always good to keep a bit of ‘in case I manage to lose five things’ money handy.

Secondly, if you’re traveling for any sort of long period of time, you’ll wear things out; shoes, backpacks, suitcases, toiletries. These are things that can be pretty expensive and just have to be replaced. Plan accordingly and either pack spares or prepare to purchase!

sneaky travel expenses - new stuff

Phone credit or data

It’s the classic traveler’s scenario; you tell yourself everything will be fine and you’ll just survive off cafe wifi and dodgy hotel signal. That has probably worked about half the time for me. The other half of the time though, something goes wrong either traveling or at home, and I need to actually call people, or I need more than just the in-and-out hotel wifi. Those times, I end up forking out for sim cards and phone credit, which isn’t so bad unless you get put on hold to the bank and you have to put new credit on three times; cure 100 dollar phone bill! There is a good cheat for this one though if you only need calls and not data because Skype lets you call regular phone numbers and it’s cheap as chips! Just download the app, chuck on five dollars credit and you’re good for hours!

sneaky travel expenses - phone credit or data

Entry to landmarks

This one might be just me, but I’m always surprised by the number of fees and charges to get into ‘touristy’ places…. or even places that are any sort of attraction. Fair enough, tourism is big business, but be prepared to pay anywhere from two to 50 dollars to get into a good attraction, even if you’ve been there recently. I visited Angkor Wat recently and found the entry had gone up from US10 to US20 in a year! Which was per day, so it racked up pretty fast. Luckily it’s definitely something you can check out beforehand for some places, or if you’re going to less ‘touristy’ places, just estimate high to be safe.

sneaky travel expenses - entrance fees

Tolls, taxes, service charges, tipping and other country-to-country differences

This is something you should definitely check out beforehand. Look at travel blogs to see what they found the norm in your chosen country to be. Again, these are just little charges, but they definitely do add up! In some places, it can be more subtle and this is where a bit of research and chatting to some locals on arrival will be handy. For example in some areas ‘courtesy payments’ to police who pull you over is standard and you need to know what is normal to pay so you don’t get left empty-handed. On the flip side, you never want to be that person who doesn’t leave a tip when that’s the wage for some hospitality workers!

sneaky travel expenses - tolls, taxes, tipping

This is definitely not an exhaustive list – I’ve forgotten to do everything from packing shoes to buying last-minute flights – but it’s definitely the things that I forget most often. Hopefully it gives you a handy checklist so that you’re an overachiever on your next holiday!

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Laura Hamblin

Currently living in Perth, Australia, Laura is a law student, environmentalist and lover of photography. She has been to 22 countries but is constantly looking to add more to her list.

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