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Seven Travel Mistakes That Cost You

After a couple of quiet years, much like the flu, the travel bug has returned with vigour – and it’s spreading fast.

Learn to travel smart

The queues outside the passport office, the sudden influx of #photodumps on your social media feed, the barrage of marketing emails from tourism operators desperate to make up for lost time – travel is back, baby. And thank goodness for that.

But let’s not get carried away and book the next flight to Greece. Half the fun of travelling is the planning stage. It’s also the deciding factor between a well-researched, thoroughly-budgeted trip and a complete blowout.

Before you start building your itinerary, be sure to wise up and avoid these rather costly travel mistakes.

Not weighing your bags before flying

Excess baggage fees are expensive. They won’t send you bankrupt, but they could set you back a few hundred bucks before your trip even starts. Be sure to weigh your bag before you get to the airport. 

Pro Tip

You can buy small, portable luggage scales from most luggage, travel and department stores. 

P.s. Please don’t be one of those travellers that has to unload their entire suitcase in front of the check-in desk and start piling on layers of clothing just to meet the weight requirements.

Not organising your money in advance

If you’re heading overseas, it’s a good idea to have access to a few different forms of currency. 

Cash – Go to a travel agent, post office or currency exchange and convert some spending money into the local currency. Avoid doing this at the airport, as the commissions can be steep! If it’s a large amount, you might want to split it up between wallets and bags just in case one goes missing. 

Travel card – Consider getting a travel debit card that you can load up with the local currency. You can usually find ones with no international transaction or currency conversion fees.

Credit card – Many hotels ask for a credit card to keep on file during your stay a debit card doesn't always cut it. Sometimes they’ll take a deposit, and other times, they’ll just hold your details to cover any incidental damages. Again, a card without international or currency conversion fees is ideal.

Debit card – I like to have a backup card with some cash just in case. 

Pro Tip

Be aware of ATM transaction fees. On a recent trip to Thailand, I got stung with $60 in ATM fees – $10 a pop!

Booking at the last minute

For those of you who relish spontaneity, you can skip this one. Everyone else, you will save some serious coin by booking plane, train and bus tickets in advance. Why? You can thank the airlines. They divide the seats into different ‘releases’, often starting with those ridiculously low sale prices, then as each release sells out, the prices jump up from there. As the departure date gets closer, supply drops and demand rises, leaving late bookers to pay a premium.

Many high-speed trains and long-distance coach services have adopted the airline pricing model, meaning the longer you wait, the more seats will fill up, and the more you’ll pay for your journey. 

Pro Tip

According to FareCompare, the best time to book a flight is on a Tuesday afternoon, around 3.5 months before you want to depart. Flying on Tuesday or Wednesday may also save you some dollars.

Forgetting to buy OR buying the wrong travel insurance

For legal purposes, I can’t tell you that you must take out comprehensive travel insurance when you go overseas. However, I do strongly encourage it. Speaking from experience, you never know when you might end up in an Emirati medical centre with internal bleeding from an unfortunate quad bike accident…

Be sure to tailor your cover to the type of trip you’re taking. If you know you’ll be renting a scooter to cruise along the coast in Bali, opt for motorbike cover. If you’re hitting the slopes in Japan, make sure your policy includes winter sports.

Taking your phone off aeroplane mode

Unless you want to come home to an outrageous phone bill, make sure your phone is on aeroplane mode for the duration of your trip. Don’t worry, WiFi and Bluetooth will still work.

Better yet, get a SIM card for the country you’re visiting. You can often get SIM packages at the airport that give you a decent amount of data for a month at a time. Data packages are also often available from service stations and convenience stores and might even be cheaper than those at the airport. 

In my experience, this has been far more affordable than purchasing a data roaming package through my Australian mobile provider. The coverage may also be better because you’re using a local network.

Not doing your research on how much things cost

The best way to avoid blowing your travel budget is to learn from other people’s mistakes. Dive into any travel forum or Reddit thread and you will find a nearly infinite source of information about visiting a destination. 

Don’t want to get ripped off by a taxi driver at the airport? Find out how much an average trip into the city should cost. Unsure what the expected tipping rate is? I guarantee someone on TripAdvisor has already asked the same question. Trying to find a budget-friendly hotel that doesn’t have an active bed bug infestation? Read the reviews. 

You won’t regret spending the time arming yourself with info before you set off. It could save you hundreds.

Setting yourself up for a holiday hangover

Blame it on YOLO, FOMO or whatever four-letter acronym you’re partial to, but it’s so easy to just “chuck it on the credit card” when you’re on holiday. International trips are full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and we get that you don’t want to miss out on anything. But if you haven’t budgeted for a big-ticket item, be wary of the impacts of paying for it with a credit card. A hotel upgrade here, a day tour there – it all adds up rather quickly, and if you can’t pay the full balance by the due date, you’ll be cringing when the interest is slapped on top of an already hefty bill. 

Instead, plan ahead and be generous with your budget. If you do need a little help to fund your next adventure, consider a Wisr travel loan to help get you there sooner. By budgeting in advance, you can avoid the holiday spending hangover that usually comes from relying on a credit card.

Can’t wait to get that passport stamp?

Find out where a Wisr Travel Loan could take you.

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information only, and is not general advice or personal advice. Wisr Services does not recommend any product or service discussed in this article. You must get your own financial, taxation, or legal advice, and understand any risks before considering whether a product or service discussed in this article may be appropriate for you. We have taken reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but the information is subject to change. We may not update the article to reflect any change.

James is a marketing and communications professional with a passion for leading high-performance teams. He likes what he does… a lot.

James, Chief Growth Officer

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