As we’re wrapping up the bulk of our planning, I realized that there were a couple of crucial parts of trip planning that caught me by surprise when working on our budget and thought that those would be good to share for those who are also going to start their own adventure. They might be obvious but there’s no faster way to ruin a vacation then to run out of funds or completely blow your budget.
So let’s just dive in! The first three are your biggest concerns as they will take a significant amount of time so you’ll want to plan ahead. Please note that we are US citizens, and some details will differ for other nationalities. Watch the video below or scroll on down for more specifics!
If you’re applying for your passport for the first time, you’ll be looking at about $150 and 4-6 weeks for processing time. You’ll need to make time to go in for your application for your first time and you’ll also need to get those passport photos as well. If you have a Costco membership, they have one of the cheapest offers.
If you already have your passport, the first thing you’ll want to check is the expiration date. Many countries require a certain period of passport validity for you to enter. Another possible requirement is the number of empty visa passport pages, so if you’re out of pages you’ll have to get a new passport!
Visas can get a little complicated if you’re traveling to multiple countries, make sure to give yourself enough time for all the applications.
As US citizens, the average cost is anywhere between $20-200 per visa. For physical visas, you’ll need to find the nearest embassy and book an appointment, be warned that some embassies are notoriously bad at punctuality. Physical visas tend to be the pricier ones, while E-visas can be easily completed online and usually are a little more affordable. The application and processing time will differ, as well as the space required within your passport. You’ll also need passport photos for these as well.
Some visas will also require vaccinations, which we’ll get into next!
Helpful Tip: If you still have valid visas in your old passport, many countries will allow you to bring it along with your new passport, saving you from applying for a whole new visa.
3. Vaccines & Medications
Vaccines are definitely a need-to-plan-ahead detail, as not all vaccines are readily available at your primary care location. For example, there’s a temporary total depletion of US Licensed Yellow Fever Vaccine and so the Stamaril vaccine is being offered in its stead and you’ll likely have to find a travel clinic to get it. Also, many vaccines are given in a series and have strict timelines, so you’ll need adequate time to complete the series.
In the US, most insurers do not cover travel vaccines (Kaiser seems to be an exception). While most vaccines are elective, it’s difficult to put a price on peace of mind, not to mention our duty to be responsible travelers and avoid spreading diseases. Travel medications will also run you up a bill even with insurance. You might be able to get away with needing the vaccines if you stay around main cities, but where’s the fun in that?
Some example costs, note that this total could be a whole vacation in itself!
- Yellow Fever: $185
- J. Encephalitis: $670
- Rabies: $960
- Malaria Pills: $230
- Typhoid: $142
4. Currency Exchange
While we might remember to check the currency exchange rates when we plan our budget, sometimes we forget to include the transaction fees. This might be a small cut that money exchangers take, or a flat fee your bank charges when you use a foreign atm, or maybe it’s even a fee from your credit card. A couple ways to get around these are to make sure to carry a credit and/or debit card that has 0 foreign transaction fees, like Chase Sapphire, Wells Fargo & Amex Propel, or the Charles Schwab Debit card. I’ve also found that banks tend to give the best rates for exchanging money and won’t charge you any additional fees.
Don’t forget to double check your destination’s currency laws! Many countries limit the amount of money you can import/export and some don’t allow any of their currency to leave (i.e. Morocco), so you don’t want to end up converting too much cash and/or forgetting to convert back to your own currency before exiting the country.
Another cost that’s easy to forget is tipping. Do a little research to see what the tipping culture is in the country you’re visiting. In some countries it’s not necessary (though still appreciated) and in others, people depend on your tips. If tipping is the expectation in your destination, then remember to account for that on top of your initial cost – this could increase your costs a lot!
Transportation seems fairly obvious, but the airfare probably won’t be the only transportation you’ll need. Between the day to day transportation, which might be trains or maybe a car rental, and that potentially big trip to/from the airport, these can add up quickly. Sometimes the nearest airport to your accommodations might be an hour away which would be a hefty taxi/Uber fee!
Helpful Tip: Transportation to and from an airport is always pricey, so try to catch a ride just outside of the airport or use public transportation from it to save some money. Lots of accommodations will also provide a more affordable shuttle if you request it ahead of time.
Nowadays you can get away with hunting around for free wifi in most public spaces. However, plenty of hotels still charge for internet use and café stops will also add up (lattés have gotten rather expensive lately!). If this is important to you, make sure to check ahead when booking to see what you can get included in your stay. If you wind up buying sim cards or internet devices, that will start to add up really fast. Unless you need a strong connection for work, it might be a good excuse to disconnect from the internet and just focus on your vacay!
This last one might seem blatantly obvious, but bear with me guys. One of the easiest things to forget is to account for travel days. So while we may be taking off 7 days for a vacation, depending on the distance you’ll travel, those bookend days might not give you any actual time to enjoy the destination. Especially if you’re on a budget and you’ve booked a flight with less than ideal times, you might land too late to take advantage of the day – or so late that you run into trouble getting to your accommodations!
In order to really maximize the enjoyment of your trip, we suggest allotting some time to settle in or to pack up and leave so you don’t feel rushed. There’s those recommended 1-3 hours that you need to have at airport before your flight, time you might need to pick up or drop off your rental car, or even just the time it takes to check in to your hotel. These types of time costs won’t feel like they’re stealing from your trip if you’ve already mentally prepared yourself for them, but if they catch you by surprise, they can totally ruin your vacation.
And this may seem like a luxury that we wouldn’t want to waste a vacation day on, but you might consider the time you might need to recover from trip before jumping back to work. Knowing that you’re rushing back to work can often distract you during the end of your vacation, so it might just be worth it to pad your vacation with a day to relax when you get home so you don’t have to think about work while you’re on your trip.
And that wraps it up for our 8 Hidden Costs of traveling, we hope these will help you guys have peace of mind while planning and fully enjoy your next adventure! Let us know what you guys think or if we’ve missed anything in the comments below!