5 Things You’re Overpaying For on Your Vacation

by Sarah Winfrey on 10 April 2014 (4 comments)

Sponsored by Skype — Use Skype Credit to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.

Picture this. You’ve just spent a glorious week on a beach somewhere, soaking in the sun and cooling off in the surf. You’re ready to leave, and you’re taking one long, last look over the beautiful resort that you’d like to remember forever.

As you’re checking out, the clerk hands you the total sum of your charges. You go to sign, and have to catch your breath. How in the world did you spend that much? And how will you ever pay it, let alone finance another vacation in the future?

Contrary to popular belief, travel does not always have to be expensive. In fact, many of the fees that travelers incur are not necessary expenses. There are often ways to drastically lower the cost of your vacation, especially when you’re aware of which items often cost travelers way too much money.

1. Insurance

Many travel agents, airlines, and other travel services will ask if you want to purchase all sorts of insurance related to travel. These can vary from travel accident insurance to rental car insurance to lost baggage insurance, and more. Depending on your trip, some of these options may be things that you actually want to have. However, you don’t always have to pay extra to get this coverage.

Most credit cards offer some sort of travel coverage, and some of the offerings are superb. Be sure you know exactly what your card offers, and if you need to do anything to qualify for the coverage. Sometimes, you have to let the credit card company know that you are traveling, or purchase your tickets on their card.

2. ATM/Transaction Fees

Your bank will charge you an average of $5 every time you make a withdrawal from a non-network ATM. While it’s usually easy to stay in network when you’re at home, some networks don’t even have ATMs in other countries, or even other areas of the same country! However, you can pick a bank in the Global ATM Network or bank with Charles Schwab, and you will be able to avoid these fees.

Some credit cards also charge foreign transaction fees when you use them outside of your home country. Such fees used to be standard, and travelers just accepted them as a fact of life. But if you shop around, you can easily find travel credit cards without such fees.

3. Airline Tickets

There are many ways to save money on airline tickets. One great way is to travel on a Tuesday or a Thursday. Since most people tend to travel close to the weekends — on Friday and Saturday — airlines offer lower priced fares on other days. Unless you are traveling for something specific that is happening on a weekend, traveling on other days means that you’ll avoid peak tourist times at your destination, too, and so you may enjoy your vacation even more.

Sometimes, it is also cheaper to fly out of smaller airports in your area, or into a smaller airport at your destination. This isn’t always true, but it is worth checking into the cost of flying out of another location, just to see if there are cheaper tickets available.

4. Phone Calls and Texting

Most hotels, resorts, and even your usual phone carrier, charge way too much for calls and texts when you’re overseas. Instead, choose Skype Credit which offers low rates on phone calls to both mobile phones and landlines all over the world (not just to other Skype users). They also offer good rates on worldwide texting, and you can even text from your computer (rather than your phone). They round out the package by offering free access to Wi-Fi hotspots and call forwarding, which can be especially useful when you’re traveling.

It’s easy to set up your Skype Credit account, and then you can add money from your computer, your phone, or even from participating stores. You only need to add money when your account is running low, so you can control what you spend on calling and texting, rather than never knowing exactly how much you are being charged.

One neat feature many people don’t know about is Skype Number. For $5 a month, you can set up your own Skype Number that anyone can call from their phone, and you can pick up the call on Skype from any device. Plus you can set up call forwarding to your Skype number from any phone that has the feature. You can select a number from a variety of area codes in several countries. This can save your friends and family a lot of money when you’re traveling. For example, say you’re an American visiting relatives in France. Instead of having your French relatives call your US cell phone number, you can get a Skype Number with a local French area code. Your French relatives can call this number at local rates instead of international long distance rates, thus saving them a ton of money.

5. Souvenirs

You’ll want to remember a great vacation forever, and so you’ll want to bring something home. However, avoid the overpriced gift shops, especially those at resorts and other places that cater to tourists. There are many ways to get souvenirs that are both cheaper and more authentic than what you can get in tourist traps.

Most foreign locales have local markets, where you can purchase cloth, clothing, jewelry, or even spices that are authentic to the region and cost a fraction of that t-shirt in the gift shop. You can also keep items like napkins and ticket stubs, which don’t cost anything extra, and can make a great scrapbook when you get home. You can also journal, collect sand from the seashore, bring home some beautiful rocks, press flowers, and more.

How have you saved money when you’re traveling? Do you have any tips for your fellow readers?

Sponsored by Skype — Use Skype Credit to call mobiles and landlines home and abroad at low rates.

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Guest's picture

While I agree that ATM fees can be large, they are far better rates than going to a Bureau d' Change or other money changer, where you get a horrible exchange rate. I would rather hit up a large bank ATM once or twice. You need hard currency, not just plastic!

Guest's picture

Good ones. Also, personal care items! If you remember to pack everything, you won't need to buy it.
Make a list. Check it twice!

Guest's picture

The local grocery store is one of the best places to find souvenirs! You can try new foods, find a favorite that you had while there that you might not find at home, and open up a new world of taste to those back home!

Guest's picture

i used an app on my phone to talk to my family while in Africa and used the hotels wifi to save on data charges...it saved a ton