10 Things You Should Never Pay For When Traveling

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When planning a trip most backpackers spend hours and hours scouring the internet in search of any deal that can save them a few bucks. All this effort yet the moment the step onto foreign soil they spend unnecessary money, wasting cash in ways that are easily avoidable.

Today we want to help you stop the bleeding from your wallet and show you how you can save some hard earned money by simply not spending it in the first place. We have compiled a list of ten common expenses that you can easily avoid.

1. Excess Baggage Fees

Oversized luggage
Oversized luggage

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the top 15 U.S. airlines pocketed over $3.35 billion in checked bag fees in 2013. That is an insane amount of money that we are just throwing down the drain. There is no real reason for most people to be checking luggage these days. Before you travel, take a look on the airline’s website and see what their weight restrictions are, then pack smart in your carry-on and you should never have to worry about these fees again.

If for some reason you do need to check your bag, do some research. Many airlines allow 1 free checked bag, especially if you are a member of their frequent flyer program. If you are moving overseas you can often save some money on airline fees by shipping stuff over.

2. WiFi Access

My wifi hotspot is cooler than yours
My WiFi hotspot is cooler than yours

Unless you are traveling to the far reaches of the earth you should be able to find a free WiFi hotspot. First point of call should be your hotel or hostel, simply ask at reception for the password. If they don’t give you free access try the local library as most will offer up a connection these days.

Otherwise head for the local food court, cafe or fast food joint. McDonalds is one of the easiest places to surf the web in the comfort of a nice booth.

3. Books

Books on a shelf
Books on a shelf

Yes, we agree that reading a good book is a great way to pass the time when you are traveling but buying a guide like Lonely Planet is something you simply don’t need to do anymore.  In this modern day and age you can hold 10,000 songs on a device not much bigger than a credit card. You can also hold thousands of travel guides or books on a tablet. There are tons of travel sites that allow you to download free destination guides and even more apps on offer. Simply pick your favorites and away you go.

If you really love the old-school feel of a book, visit a local library. Many hostels will have their own small selection of books that you can use. Just remember to leave it for the next person.

Looking for something great to read next? Check out the 52 Best Books for Travelers.

4. Crappy Souvenirs

World’s largest gift shop
World’s largest gift shop

In the spur of the moment we all make some questionable purchases. While it may seem like a great idea at the time, no one really wants that snow globe or tacky keyring. If you must, send a postcard with a nice note. Your friends and family will appreciate the effort and thought that went into it.

5. Bed Linen or a Towel

Hostel bedding
Hostel bedding

It is important to know that some hostels will charge you for bedding like sheet covers and also for a towel. To avoid the cost, pack your own! A simple bedsheet and a small microfibre towel will not take up much room in your pack but it could save you from those unwanted extra fees.

6. Long Distance Phone Calls

A phone booth
A phone booth

With the advances made in WiFi call quality, there is no real need to pay for that call home. Services such as Skype, Viber, and Google Hangouts are a great way to communicate with your friends and family while you’re away. Just make sure you set it up on their computer before you leave and give them clear instructions on how to use it.

7. Priority Boarding

Boarding the plane
Boarding the plane

Are you serious? Low-cost airlines such as Ryanair charge £2 per person per flight. On a return flight, the money you save could pay for an extra meal, or even a bed in many cities. Unless you have priority pass credit cards, which include priority boarding for free, it's usually not worth paying extra for this service.

The plane isn’t going to leave you at the airport if you are the last person to board the flight. The only people who really NEED to be boarded first are families with children, the elderly, or the disabled. If you fit one of these categories you don’t need to pay for priority boarding anyway.

8. Airline Meals

Air France Hindu vegetarian breakfast
Air France Hindu vegetarian breakfast

If you know that you have to pay for the food on your flight pack your own. Not only will you have control of the food you get to eat but you can eat whenever suits you and you save some money. Win-Win-Win!

It is probably not a bad idea to avoid airline food anyway as it usually is very high in sodium which will dehydrate your body. Read more on our guide – Everything You Need to Survive a Long Flight.

9. An Umbrella

Black umbrella
Black umbrella

While this one may seem strange to include, you would be surprised how many people will hastily pay for an umbrella during the wet season.

Our Tip: If it starts to rain, find the nearest bar and tell the bartender you think you left your black umbrella in the bar and can they check. The chances are pretty good that they have a black umbrella in their lost and found (think about it, when you have had a few drinks it is easy to forget your umbrella).

10. Bank Fees

Pay-to-use ATM
Pay-to-use ATM

Unfortunately banks never seem to know when enough is enough. They seem to find new ways to gouge us at every opportunity. Don’t be surprised to find an extra fee or more added onto your statement when you return.

Most private ATM’s will charge you just for the privilege of using them. Go to Vegas and you could be up for as much as $5 each time you pull out cash.

So what do you do? Well, our first tip is to avoid private ATMs and where possible only take money out from your own bank. This is a challenge when traveling internationally and to remote areas so look for cards that waive any foreign transactions.

Now we could have included restrooms/toilets in our list but there are still many places in the world that do charge for the convenience of a clean toilet. We’re pretty sure that when the time comes you will pay that fee!

Have we missed any others? Tell us what things you won’t pay for in the comments section below.

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Michael Glass

Michael is the founder of Backpacker Travel. He also runs walking tours in San Francisco and is a freelance travel writer. Michael is extremely passionate about travel and loves to explore festivals around the world.

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7 comments on “10 Things You Should Never Pay For When Traveling”

  1. Completely agree Michael, if you have an umbrella, book or the like spare, rather than bin it, give it to a backpacker lodge or bar...plenty of people will seize the opportunity in the future! Great article!

    1. The tablet or e-reader has totally changed the way we travel. I totally love read during my travels and now can carry an entire library in the front pocket of my daypack.

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