The Hidden Costs of International Travel

There is nothing more exciting than the prospect of international travel. It could be the fulfilment of a lifelong ambition, and an opportunity to explore new cultures, cuisines, and landscapes. Not to mention, the rush we will get by posting the pictures on Instagram!

Also, a part of international travel is the plethora of hidden costs that pop up as a surprise, even for frequent travellers. These could be fees that you didn’t expect or expenses that most travellers overlook during their travels. But in any case, they add up to the travel expenses and end up escalating it.

If you are a first-time traveller to an international destination, don’t let the trip become an unsavoury experience financially. And if you are a frequent flyer, stop leaking money through hidden costs every time you travel.

Here are some of the most common hidden costs that you need to be careful about during your overseas trip:

Losing More than Exchanged For

You can convert your money to the local currency through a bank or a currency exchange service. They will charge a fee for the service, which will vary depending on the service provider. The currency exchange fee can be a fixed amount or a percentage of the converted amount.

You can avoid excessive currency exchange fees by planning. Research the exchange rates offered by different service providers and choose the rate that is most suitable for you. If you have a debit or credit card with low foreign transaction fees, consider using the same instead of paying a premium on currency conversion. Similarly, stick to cash withdrawals from ATMs if you have a debit card with such waivers or low withdrawal charges.

Wherever You May Roam

Your mobile phone bill can shoot up astronomically with even a small stint overseas. Mobile companies generally charge a very high roaming charge on calls, texts, and data usage. You might think that a few brief calls could not harm you, but the charges add up to a hefty phone bill. Needless to say, staying connected while overseas comes at a steep cost. The smart thing to do would be to purchase an international SIM card which is domestic to your country of destination. This will eliminate your roaming charges, while you can make calls at the local rate. Also, check if your mobile service provider offers a temporary international roaming plan at reasonable rates. Lastly, most developed countries have wide WiFi coverage. So, make sure you enquire and connect to WiFi wherever possible.

A Bit of To and Fro

Flight tickets may seem like the most obvious travel expense, but there are various other costs you bear during local travels. This includes airport transfers, taxis, buses, air or train fares between cities, and metro rides.

You should research different transportation options and compare the alternatives. For example, in most European countries, airfare may end up being cheaper than train fare. Besides, bus and train fares are dynamic in many countries.

Visa and Entry Fees

Visa or entry fees are unavoidable travel costs, and therefore not overlooked by many. But it is a significant expense, which increases with the number of travellers. Many countries require you to obtain a visa before you travel. Some countries offer visas on arrival. In both cases, the visa comes at a cost, which may differ for tourists, business travellers and other categories.

Once your foreign trip is confirmed, check the visa requirements for your destination. Find out the visa and other related costs in advance and include them in your travel budget.

Charges Levied on Tourists

After taking all the travel expenses into account, you will be surprised to find that certain locations and activities attract an additional tourist fee or tax. You may have noticed that the entry fees for monuments like the Taj Mahal are different for Indians and foreigners. The same is applicable in many overseas destinations where you end up paying a premium for being a foreigner.

To minimise these charges, you can plan your itinerary, and check the applicable charges in the places you plan to visit. You can look for equally attractive alternatives that have lower or no charges and avoid expensive activities altogether.

Staying Insured for a Price

Most countries wouldn’t allow you entry without a valid travel insurance. While it may seem like an unnecessary expense, it protects you from medical emergencies, trip cancellations, lost baggage and a host of other perils. You must assess the scope of travel insurance coverage you will need and choose the riders accordingly. This way you will end up paying a premium for actual risks, rather than choosing an umbrella policy with irrelevant coverages.

Budget and Avoid Hidden Costs

To make the most of your travel budget, you must plan and research your travel thoroughly. You should take advantage of discounts and promotions, travel rewards and loyalty programs that your memberships and credit cards offer. Be flexible with your travel dates for better bargains, and avoid peak seasons. Travel light to avoid excess baggage fees and be open to alternative accommodations to save costs. With these steps, you can enjoy your foreign trip while avoiding unnecessary costs.


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