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10 Travel Expenses You Should Not Forget To Budget For

10 Travel Expenses You Should Not Forget To Budget For

When you are travelling this summer, sticker shock certainly sets in regardless of the mode of transportation. From gas prices currently in jeopardy of increasing to higher airline fees, you’ll feel the pinch some where. However, what doesn’t help out is that these upfront fees don’t take into consideration the hidden and unexpected costs that come with your trip, domestic or international. Today, we will take a look at 10 travel expenses that you should remember to take into account when planning your travel budget for the summer travel season. We will also factor in some ways you can save on these unexpected costs.

1. Departure Taxes

Departure fees are easy for many individuals to forget including in their travel budget. For many countries, these are fees that are included and unchangeable in your airport ticket. However, for other countries, for example Argentina and Costa Rica, in some cases you’ll have to pay the departure fees the airport. While small for a majority of countries, hovering around $20 – $50, other countries charge a lot more. To stay up-to-date on departure fees from the United States, checkout this website by the US Department of State. Simply search the country and click “Entry, Exit, & Visa Requirements”.

2. Card Fees and Currency Exchange

When traveling abroad, you are likely to encounter foreign transaction fees from your credit card company. You may even find that such a fee is even imposed on debit cards as well. Before you depart, it is always important for you to call your credit card company to allow them to be informed that you will be out of the country.

Credit and debit cards don’t have GPS chips and they are unable to know if you croissant purchase in Paris is your summer vacation or credit card theft. When you call, ask what the foreign transaction fees are.

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Secondly, even when paying cash, ensure that you have a handy currency exchange app on your phone to ensure that you are truly paying a good price for all goods purchased abroad. XE Currency is a great currency conversion app that is updated daily whenever you connect to the Internet.

3. Meals During Travel

Eating is an obvious aspect of your travel budget. However, one addition to your budget that you might not always consider is eating while arriving and departing from your destination. These are costs that add up, especially if you encounter delays or layovers. If you are a family of four, you’ll find that this is a fee you can’t simply hope will organize itself. In an airport, food costs are astronomical.

To alleviate this cost, bring food from home to nosh on during your arrival, and make a short trip to the grocery store in your location you are visiting before heading back home. If you encounter a significant delay, get in touch with your airline for a meal voucher, they are almost always offered when asked in such situations. They want to keep your business, in the end.

4. Cellular Provider Fees

From keeping in contact with your family back home to sharing your vacation adventures on social media, voice and data costs are an aspect of your budget to consider when abroad this summer. Without intervention, your GSM (AT&T and T-Mobile) smartphone will simply connect to the local international provider in the area and you’ll find yourself charged huge fees.

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Before leaving, inform your cellular provider of your travel plans, ask for possible international plan discounts, and if such discounts aren’t available, look into getting an international pay-as-you-go phone while there. WIFI is a great alternative as well, making use of Skype for calling back home. Some Internet cafes and hotels charge to use their WIFI, but this fee is exceedingly cheaper than paying cellular fees.

5. Emergency Expenses

It can be easy to think that the most stressful part of your trip is the flight there and back. However, if you encounter an emergency, you’ll find that the flight was only a breeze. Being on vacation, you find yourself doing more strenuous activities that you don’t normally do every day (from hiking to scuba diving, etc).

This presents itself with unexpected risks of injury. If you find yourself with a major injury, your insurance could help out. However, other emergencies and injuries may require digging into your own pocket for associated fees (sprains, cuts, bruises, etc). Due to how this is an expense that not everyone encounters, look into setting aside your credit card for these expenses, instead of setting aside a specific amount of cash.

6. Visa Costs

Along with departure fees, you’ll possibly find yourself encountering visa fees that depend on the duration of your time in a certain country. Ensure that you have these fees set aside and paid for if you are having an extended trip. In addition, if you find that you have to go to a local embassy to handle these tasks, make sure you factor transportation costs for getting to and from there. A friend of mine currently visiting China had to make three embassy visits before receiving her visa. Sadly, we can’t put a price tag on the stress that task brings on!

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7. Travel Insurance

Regardless of if you are backpacking through Europe or becoming a beach bum this summer, travel insurance is a must for individuals going abroad. You’ll find that purchasing travel insurance through providers like World Nomads offers you not only medical protection, but also assistance for trip cancellations, assistance, interruptions, and delays. In most cases, travel insurance cost under $100 and can protect you with thousands of dollars in coverage.

8. Spontaneous Adventures

If this is your first time abroad, you’ll want to make sure that you have the time of your life. If you are in a country during a national holiday or celebration, you’ll find that activities and adventures appear out of no-where and can be once in a lifetime for you to celebrate in. Make sure to have a form of payment planned for these spontaneous adventures, either in cash with your budget or with your card. You’ll thank yourself in the end.

9. Flight and Baggage Fees

A common occurrence for travellers is that they encounter an amazing deal on a plane ticket, only to find that they are hit with baggage fees. Always ensure that you look at your airlines website before packing, not departure, to see the hidden baggage fees assessed by your airline. If you do this before packing, you can pack accordingly. Having a price tag attached to your overpacking will cause you to pack smartly, not impulsively.

Other flight fees that you might unexpectedly encounter are WIFI costs and food/beverage purchases. Contact your airline before departure to see if WIFI is available on-board and for how much. If it’s a short haul (< 2.5 hour flight), WIFI might not be a necessary cost.

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10. Lodging Fees

Finally, when travelling anywhere, fees associated with lodging can be unexpected for many travellers. Ensure that you have a clear outline of how much you have to pay for lodging. Internet fees, room service costs, open bar, and room service tips are costs that travelers find that they usually ignore when travelling. Make sure you include these possible costs in your budget to prevent sticker shock at the end of your vacation.

By including these fees in your travel budget, you’ll find that you are better prepared for any fees that come along the way. Not only can you combat them, you can save money along the way. Let us know in the comments below how you are saving money this travel season.

Featured photo credit: http://hawaiidads.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/family-travel-1.jpg via Hawaii Dads

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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