When Going Cheap on Travel Can Come Back to Bite You
Saving pennies here and there is a way for most of us to get ahead of where we want to be financially. However, pinching those pennies in the wrong places can be a huge mistake, especially when it comes to travel.
You can make your own decisions when it comes time to save money on your next trip. But first, check out these reminders of how much you could compromise enjoyment of your vacation if you pinch pennies the wrong way.
Going Cheap on the Rental Car
With a few exceptions, there's a good reason why a budget rental car service is as cheap as it is. Sometimes you can find a deal on a rental car that’s only slightly lower quality than the standard or premium rental car services, but other times, skimping on the rental car will have you wallowing in regret.
Scheduling a Flight That’s Unreasonably Early (or Late)
The term "know thyself" is a time-tested piece of advice for good reason. Knowing yourself is the key to scheduling a flight time that’s not going to cause you to miss your flight or be completely miserable because you decided to save a few bucks by booking a crack-of-dawn departure when you’re already a night owl.
Going Cheapo Mode on Lodging
Whether it’s a motel in the seedy part of town where nobody seems to sleep or a hostel where everybody seems to sleep (and snore), going cheap on your lodging accommodations is a surefire way to ensure a miserable day of travel.
Convincing Yourself That the Middle Seat Is Just Fine
"You've lost weight," you told yourself, "so what’s a couple hours of clenching your elbows to your sides when you can save a few bucks?" You went ahead, purchased the middle seat near the back of the plane (likely the cheapest seat available) and convinced yourself that everything would be rosy.
Squeezing Into the Economy Rental Car
There are any number of downsides that can arise from going too cheap on your rental car. If you go with the budget company, you could end up riding a ramshackle shuttle to a different time zone than the airport, and you could run into similar misery if you save money by renting a super-economy vehicle.
Relying on Public Transportation
As you probably know, many of the costs of traveling are hidden. You know how much your flight costs, what you’ll pay for a hotel room and the price tag for whichever activities you choose during your trip. But the hidden costs that you don't pay up front, such as transportation to and from the airport and everywhere in between, can bite you.
Cutting It Close With Connections
One of the more popular ways of saving money while traveling is getting cheaper flight prices. You can find plenty of travel sites that put together connecting flights on budget airlines, and often those flights are cheap because the time to connect from one to the other is razor-thin.
Avoiding the Booking Fee
It doesn't matter what activity you’re getting a ticket for. It could be a day at Disney World, a ride on the Bateaux Mouches in Paris or a tour of Alcatraz Island. If you choose to save on booking fees, instead deciding to roll the dice and purchase a ticket at the window, you could be left kicking yourself in a major way.
Taking the Slow Train or Ferry
There’s a reason why express trains and speed ferries exist: They get you where you want to be faster. But from a broader perspective, express trains and ferries exist to help you avoid boredom and, in certain cases, misery.
Eating Near Tourist Zones
Restaurants in tourist hotspots have you right where they want you, and it may be your inclination to eat at a place that’s convenient, sometimes in an attempt to save money. However, it may actually save you money by paying the taxi fare to go somewhere authentic.
Exchanging Money at the Airport
The urge to exchange money while you’re at the airport can lead to a costly mistake. It’s easy to rationalize exchanging money at the airport, though, as you may convince yourself that this will save you money by preventing the extra trip somewhere else specifically to exchange currencies.
Springing for a Deal Before Checking All Your Options
Travel sites intentionally remind you that, if you wait too long, that deal that looks so appealing could be gone. In an attempt not to lose the deal, you may be inclined to hit the purchase button straight away out of the fear that this is the best deal you’ll find.
Skipping Travel Insurance
There are times when warranties or insurance are a complete waste of money, and there are times when those safety policies are lifesavers at relatively low prices. Though you may be inclined to think of travel insurance as the former, it can very easily be the latter if things go wrong on your trip.
Taking a Cab in a Pinch
It's a good rule of thumb that cabs are generally something to avoid when you’re traveling. All around the world, cabs are typically more expensive than virtually every other mode of travel (unless you're talking helicopters) with respect to the value you get from them.
Booking Your Trip Too Early
It's generally true that the earlier you book a flight, the cheaper your flight is going to be. With that said, booking your travel arrangements and accommodations too early can also be the ultimate waste of money.
Skipping the Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience
You're going to rack up memories from your travel regardless of whether you go all-out on the spending or take the economic hostel route on your trip. There’s a healthy middle ground when it comes to spending money on any vacation, and saving money where you can is always wise.
Budgeting on the Fly
Whether you’re budgeting for a night, a week or a month, sit down and think hard about where you want to save money and where you want to spring for the top-notch experiences. A bit of foresight is a strong general approach to making your trip all that it can be.
Not Traveling in an Ethical Way
Depending on where you’re going, there may be more or fewer ethical ways to go about your vacation. For example, when traveling in developing nations, you may want to find a tour that puts its profits into the pockets of the people rather than the state — that's your call.
Choosing a Less-popular Destination
For many people, this is a big factor in where they take a vacation. You might want to go somewhere "off the beaten path" that isn’t packed with tourists so you can get a more authentic feel for a culture. If you've saved up money and are considering two comparable destinations, pick wisely.
Missing Tangible Personal Growth
This piece of advice could be seen as a license to spend, spend, spend, but that’s not the intent. When you consider whether an experience will lead to personal growth, consider that a pricey cab ride will almost certainly not, while a stroll through the historical old downtown probably will.
Not Bringing Others Along
This is especially true for families. While couples' retreats are an essential part of maintaining a happy marriage, don't let expenses be the reason why you choose to leave the kids at home. If you need to spend a bit more to include a kid or two on the trip, you may thank yourself later.
Compromising Your Health While Traveling
Nobody says that you have to spend your vacation in a five-star resort or that roughing it isn't good for you sometimes. With that said, if you go cheap on any aspect of your trip that could compromise your health, you might regret it.
Saving Money Dangerously
Just as you shouldn’t save money in any way that puts your immediate health in danger, you also shouldn’t put your life in danger of human threats because you wanted to pocket a few bucks. Many travel destinations worth visiting have seedier parts of town, and while you can probably find cheap lodging there, you shouldn't.
Saving on Luggage Fees
It really has gotten absurd how willing airlines are to gouge every price, and baggage fees are just one of the more egregious forms of "airline theft." Though you may be inclined to try to avoid this by downsizing your belongings as much as possible, don’t leave out essentials to save a buck.
Failing to Snatch Up the Perfect Souvenir
Impulsivity can get you into a lot of trouble. On the other hand, when you have to have something, you have to have something. When you decide to pass up on a travel trinket or souvenir that catches your eye, make sure that it’s something you can afford to pass up.
Cutting Your Data Short
The interconnectedness of the world has made keeping in touch easier and more affordable than ever before. Even if you’re traveling across oceans, you may be able to remain in contact with your loved ones back home, and you may want to do exactly that.
Not Springing for a Tour Guide
Tourists are tourists for a reason, and this becomes infinitely more apparent when a tourist is in a foreign nation. You've paid a nice chunk of change to travel to a new place and soak up the culture, so why wouldn't you spring for a local guide if they can make your trip far more enjoyable?
Haggling Yourself out of a Deal
Many nations consider haggling or negotiating to be a central part of buying anything. This can be a blessing and a curse if you know (or don’t know) where to draw the line at the bargaining table. You can save a few bucks by negotiating a price down, but you also risk going too low and offending the seller.
Skimping on Quality Footwear
Almost no part of your body is more important when traveling than your feet. You’re going to be away from home, away from the couch or bed where you’re used to kicking your feet up and relaxing. So you want to make sure that your feet are taken care of, especially considering all that walking you’ll be doing.
Getting Too Attached to Guidebooks and Maps
You know who everybody starts to really feel resentful towards after a few days into a trip? Fair or not, the person who insists on stopping every 30 feet to consult a guidebook becomes a real pain for fellow travelers who are trying to soak in the sights with minimal interruptions.