Top 10 Most Expensive Travel Mistakes
Save money on your next vacation by avoiding these 10 costly (and common) travel mistakes.
We all make mistakes, but flubbing your travel plans could cost you big time. Don’t blow your vacation budget on a goof you could have avoided. We spoke to travel agent Mary Jane Heibert, general manager of Holiday Travel Inc., in Steinbach, Man., to help you steer clear of these costly travel mistakes.
Forgetting to Buy a Service Plan for Your Phone
Using your cell phone in a foreign land without an international service plan – what we like to call “roaming without a net” – could be shockingly expensive.
Best Health Web Editor Melissa Greer recently travelled to Greece and Italy for a relaxing two-week vacay. She brought her phone and turned it on infrequently, just to check emails and send a few texts back home. The results? A $1300 roaming fee from her phone company. “I was shocked,” Greer says. “I didn’t realize that turning my phone on for 30 seconds would ever cost so much!”
The solution? Contact your service provider to inquire about overseas fees and packages for voice, text and data. If you’re travelling for a longer period of time, do what Heibert did while travelling in Germany: “I bought myself a German mobile phone because it was a lot less money than taking my Blackberry,” says Heibert.
Losing Your Passport
Is there a bigger waste of time and money than spending your vacation tracking down consulates and misplaced documents? Still, this major goof happens to the best of us, and Heibert advises all of her clients to be prepared. Make two copies of your passport, leave one at home with a friend or family member and keep the other one tucked away in your suitcase. “If your passport is lost or stolen, take the copy to your consulate so they can trace the number, cancel the original passport and issue you a new one,” she says. Find contact info for the nearest consulate on this list of Canadian offices abroad.
Taking Too Much Stuff
Arriving at the airport with overweight suitcases could have you busting your travel budget before take-off. Most airlines allow you to check one bag for free on international flights, but you could be charged up to $100 per additional piece of luggage or overweight bags. “It’s wise to review what you’re bringing and think about what you really need and what you can layer and reuse,” Heibert advises. Regularly check weather reports for your destination to help determine what items you really need. To avoid an expensive situation at check-in, review your airline’s baggage regulations before you pack.
Travelling Without Medical Insurance
No one likes to think about worst-case scenarios when planning a fun time away, but it pays to be prepared for accidents. What if you wipe out on a back-country cycling excursion, or for the less adventurous, slip on wet tiles at the spa? Winding up in a foreign hospital without insurance can be a huge financial blow. “Your provincial insurance isn’t necessarily going to cut it, even when travelling in Canada,” Heibert warns. Make sure you have enough medical coverage and top it up if you’re not certain. Here’s hoping you never have to use it!
Forgetting to Call Your Credit Card Company
If dropping 200 euro on a purse in Milan is out of your regular shopping pattern (if it’s not, lucky you!), your credit card company may suspect fraud and suspend your card until you’ve confirmed the purchase. It’s comforting to know they’re looking out for you and all, but not having access to credit while abroad is a huge hassle that takes time away from your well-earned vacation. Avoid this situation altogether by giving your credit card company a heads-up that you’ll be travelling.
Booking Too Soon
You’ve finally decided to take your dream trip to London next spring. Congratulations! But hold off on booking your plane ticket – making a reservation too soon could be a costly blunder. “People like to book their tickets well in advance, but sometimes they overpay because there are opportunities for seat sales and discounts through your travel agent,” says Hiebert. If you’re travelling to a common destination, wait to book your flight until three months before you want to leave.
Making Changes to Your Reservation
Scheduled your holiday on the same date as your sister’s wedding? Seems unlikely, but Heibert says that rebooking departure dates is one of the most common (and expensive) mistakes that travellers make. “You can make all sorts of changes to tickets, but you’re looking at a hefty cost,” she warns. Double check your calendar before making any reservations and consider travel dates set in stone.
Arriving Without a Place To Stay
Travelling is an adventure, but landing in an unfamiliar city without a hotel reservation could be a costly risk. You may end up paying more than you expect for a last-minute room if economical accommodations are all booked up. Plus, wandering around jetlagged and desperate for a place to rest probably isn’t your idea of super-fun spontaneity. “I often recommend to people who want to be flexible, that they at least book their first night because when you arrive you’ll be tired and you’ll want a place to put your suitcases down,” Heibert says.
Arriving Clueless About Transportation
Do you know how you’ll get from the airport to your hotel, or to the quaint little town you want to explore? Winging it with transportation can really ratchet up the expense of your trip. Cabs can be surprisingly expensive in some cities, so do your research on options for public transportation. If you’re planning to take the train, Heibert recommends buying rail passes before you depart because some of the more economical options may only be available for purchase in Canada.
Sticking To The Tourist Traps
While you’ll certainly want to see the Eiffel Tower and stroll the Champs-Élysée, visiting smaller destinations and less-trafficked sites could significantly reduce the cost of your trip. “Some of the most interesting places are not big tourist centres,” says Heibert. “It’s amazing what you can see when you get off the beaten path.”