I was reading this article the other day about five areas where people waste money when traveling. (I love that they included buying a SteriPen for on-the-go water purification!) It got me thinking about some of the things I’ve learned that might help you too (these are in addition to some posts I did awhile back – Part I – Flights, Part II – Lodging, and Part III – Food and Activities). Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Avoid surprises. If you don’t see a price listed, and you feel the need to ask, you likely can’t afford it. (This advice comes from my Nana and goes for more than just travel, but it works here too.)
  2. Consider how often you are in car accidents in your daily life, if it is a reasonable number, turn down the extra car rental insurance. (If you are in a foreign country, it may be wise to consider, check out a guidebook/travel agent for their advice in advance.) In most cases though, you are covered by the credit card you made the reservation with and/or your personal car insurance – no matter what the agent at the counter tells you.
  3. Unless you are all alone in the middle of the night and you’re not going five miles or more, walk or use public transportation instead of a taxi. It’s easy to have “vacation brain” and think, “I deserve this, I’m on vacation” but then you waste your hard-earned money on a car ride you could duplicate easily at home. So stroll to your next attraction and get lost a little, that’s half the fun!
  4. Trade magazines with other people on the go. I figure if I buy on brand new magazine (or better yet, bring one from home that I got with those pesky 5,000 airline miles that are about to expire) and someone across the gate area is finishing one up, we should trade. You can screen their taste easily and avoid the Trout Weekly lovers if that’s not your speed.
  5. Borrow things from your friends. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say they needed outlet adapters! I have these things: money belt, mosquito net, backpacks, suitcases, plug adapters, Kindle, tent, cook stove, tarps, inflatable neck pillow, cross country skis, travel books, packing lists, sleeping bags, dry bags, shoe bags, space bags, headlamp, flashlight, ski goggles, and on and on. If you need these things, you can borrow them!
  6. Double check what you packed or work off a list. This is especially true when you are traveling abroad. Forgetting something critical makes it hard to avoid buying replacements wherever you are going (just ask Brian Beard about our trip to Italy!). In addition to paying more because you’re desperate, you return home with double whatever it was, which is likely more than you reasonably need.
  7. Make a few calls. When you are traveling abroad, check with your bank and/or credit cards to find out what the fees are to make transactions. Usually debit cards charge you a flat rate plus a percentage for purchases and cash withdrawals (usually lower than a credit card) but some credit cards are better. It can be annoying to make these calls before you go, but it’s better than finding out how much multiple cash advances cost in daily interest rates when you get home. Not that that’s ever happened to me…oh wait.
  8. Trade pet-sitting, cat-sitting, house-sitting, plant-sitting, or bill-paying (depending on how long you’ll be gone) with a friend or neighbor who is planning on traveling in the near future. That way, everyone is pitching in and no one feels the need to pay anyone back (or bring home expensive gifts for) since you built in reciprocity at the beginning.
  9. Read your timetables carefully. I learned the hard way, literally (I had a bruised tailbone for months – another time on that), that other people (without mentioning any names) didn’t grow up on military time. This resulted in a missed bus and ticket repurchasing. This is a crappy way to waste money on vacation, period.
  10. Plan ahead. Traveling on a budget can be a fun challenge and can help you go a lot further on a vacation, like a week vs. two days. However, sometimes it’s worth the splurge to have the best meal of your life, take a tour of a glowworm cave, or experience your favorite band on the road. If you plan in advance, you can put aside the dough to take the plunge and not be paying for it later; which, in my opinion, is the best way to really enjoy your vacation.

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