15 Sneaky Travel Costs That Could Accidentally Blow Your Travel Budget

As with all things in life, travel costs money. Whether you’re planning on going backpacking or heading to a luxurious five-star resort, you’ll want to start off with a clear travel budget. Some things are fairly obvious; the cost of flights, accommodation, food, and activities.

There are a few sneaky travel costs though, that are often and easily forgotten…

Don’t accidentally blow your travel budget by forgetting about these 15 travel costs that most forget to budget for;

Travel Budget 15 Unexpected Costs that will blow your travel budget

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1. Passport (Renewal)

Ok, I’m pretty sure you already know that you need a passport to travel (Thanks for stating the obvious, Joannda!)

At least you do if you’re traveling (internationally) by plane. Or going on a cruise. Although, having said that, you can still fly between the UK and Ireland on just your driver’s license!

What is sometimes easy to overlook though, is that your passport must generally be valid for at least 6 months from the date of your return!

As well as that, it needs to be in good condition (that is, not frayed or torn), and have a minimum of two consecutive and facing blank visa pages for immigration stamps.

If your passport fails to meet any of the above requirements, it is time to get a new one before you travel!


2. Travel Visas

Make sure you know what the visa requirements are for you, based on your passport’s issuing country and the country you are visiting.

Many countries offer a 30 day or longer free tourist visa, but this does depend on where your passport was issued (i.e. your nationality as deemed by your passport).

But, if you do need a visa, these tend to cost money… Some more than others!

For example, going to the US means I have to get an ESTA visa. Which is a so-called “visa waiver program” but they won’t let you in without it…. It costs US$14 and is valid for two years, for a stay of up to 90 days at a time.

A visa to Russia, on the other hand, can set you back US$160 or more, depending on where you’re from (much more, I’m told, if you’re from America.)

Definitely something you want to include in your travel budget!

Travel Budget Passport Renewal Cost


3. Vaccinations / Medication

For some countries, certain vaccinations are a requirement. For others, you might just choose to get specific shots to be on the safe side.

Either way, vaccines cost money… Check with your doctor on exact requirements and costs.

Also, if you’re on any form of medication, you’ll want to make sure you have enough to last you for the duration of the trip plus a few days extra, just in case.

Pro Tip: I recommend bringing vaccination records and prescription slips that you can show at immigration if needed. The last thing you need is to end up being questioned for drugs smuggling! 😱


4. Travel Insurance

I know some people scoff at the thought of getting travel insurance but I highly recommend you plan to spend a bit of money up front within your travel budget, rather than risking extortionate medical bills abroad. You just never know, and I say better safe than sorry!

Pro Tip: It can work out cheaper if you buy a yearly insurance rather than a one-off travel insurance. Prices vary depending on where in the world you go. Hunt around for a good price but be sure to check the small print so that you know that it covers what you expect!

Travel Budget Travel Insurance unexpected injury


5. Luggage / Seats

The whole paying for your bag and seat thing used to only be the case for budget airlines. But recently it seems like major airlines are getting in on the paid-seat scam too. Not all, of course, but some.

Make sure you check with your airline, budget or mainstream, what your luggage allowance is, whether there is a fee and whether you need to pay for selecting a seat ahead of time.

If you’re like us, you might be happy enough to be allocated a seat at check-in, especially for shorter flights, and that’s fine. But if you’re looking for a specific seat, ensure you know whether or not you need to include any potential fees in your travel budget.

Recommendation: I’ve flown with Qatar Airways a number of times over the past year or two and I genuinely think they are the best airline out there. They’re great as they have a generous checked luggage allowance included in your ticket price, as well as the ability to select your seat free of charge ahead of time, so you can put my secret seat selection tips from my Pro Travel Tips blog post to good use!


6. Toiletries

Much of this you’ll likely already have at home. And if you’re checking a bag, there’s no annoying 100ml liquid restrictions like you’ll usually have for hand luggage.

But, you may need to add a line item in your travel budget for items like sunscreen, after-sun lotion, insect repellent, antiseptic cream and so on.

Recommendation: We don’t often have much use for sunscreen here in Ireland and it always blows me away how expensive it can be to buy! Having said that, we normally do opt for the slightly more expensive P20 sunscreen as it lasts all day, even with multiple swims, and still allows you to tan beautifully 😎


7. Pet Care

Okay, so we don’t have pets… At least not currently! But if you do, they’ll need to be looked after while you’re away.

Maybe you’re lucky and can leave your dog with a family member, or have a neighbour pop in to feed the cat and maybe even water the plants while you’re away! But, if not, you’ll likely have to fork out for a kennel or pet hotel.



8. Airport Parking / Transfers

So you were super organised and prepared and booked your airport transfers to and from your hotel at your destination. Good work! (I recommend Hoppa, by the way – super efficient and easy and they’re available in basically any country!) 

But… What about getting to and from the airport at home?

You might have a friend or relative on hand to drop you off. But, if not, you’ll have to budget for either airport parking or a taxi to and from the airport pre- and post-departure as well. 🚕


9. Car Rental Extras

If you’re planning on renting a car, great! It’s a fantastic way to see more of a country and be able to go at it at your own speed. I’m a huge fan of renting a car!!

What I’m not such a huge fan of is the excess insurance waiver fee that they charge you at the car rental desk!! This can quickly add up if you’re renting the car for any real length of time.

Also be aware that if you’re renting a car one way (so, you pick up and drop off in different locations) there can be mind-bogglingly high one-way rental fees that may not be immediately obvious when you book your rental.

And then there’s the possible addition of a booster seat for your child/children, a charge for adding an additional driver, a Sat-Nav. And don’t forget costs for fuel and any road tolls! Oh, and maybe parking… Bye, bye, travel budget!!

Pro Tip: Buy an independent excess insurance from a company like Allianz (AIG) for a year at a time – yearly insurances are often much more affordable and saves you having to consider this every time you travel.


10. Bank/Exchange Fees

Whatever you do, don’t change money at the airport!!! They’ll usually have a much less favourable exchange rate than anywhere else.

One option is to order some foreign exchange at your bank. The more you order, the better the exchange rate is likely to be.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always an option… For our wedding and honeymoon trip, we were only able to get a limited amount of Thai Bhat from our bank. They did not stock, were not able to order, and appeared to have never even heard of Indonesian Rupiah for Bali… 😳

The alternative is to use your bank (ATM) card at your destination. Again, there will be a fee charged for this convenience by your bank, so check with them before you head off.

Many ATMs will have a limit to how much you can withdraw at any one time, and that withdrawal fee will be charged each time.

Recommendation: We swear by our Revolut cards for travel and at home!  There are so many benefits that I outline in more detail in my Revolut Review post, but high level you will be able to withdraw, spend, transfer and exchange money in over 140 currencies for free! This is huge and will save you SO MUCH money!

Pro Tip: Make sure you let your regular bank know that you’re traveling abroad. Otherwise, they may block your transaction thinking it is a fraudulent activity, and this can leave you in a bit of a pickle…

Travel Budget ATM Bank Fees


11. Tourist Tax

So many places charge a city or tourist tax now. Often this is charged without any real mention at your hotel. While it is likely only a Euro or two a day, this is a per person fee and does quickly add up if you’re away for any length of time.

As we found out on our recent trip to Venice, Italy, a tourist tax is also charged for Air BnB stays, and your host is likely to want you to have the relevant amount of cash to pay them on arrival.


12. Tipping

I know that tipping is basically just second nature for my American friends. But, for most of the rest of us, tipping is not as common and certainly not a given.

Having said that, I think it’s important to research what the norm is at the destination you’re traveling to.

While some countries may not expect any tips at all, others may simply appreciate you rounding up the bill or, as in America, more or less expect around 18% of your total bill at a restaurant.

I was super surprised to learn from some American friends that it is also expected to tip $1 at the bar for getting a drink, tip your taxi driver, tip your hairdresser, tip housekeeping…. So yeah, just know what to expect, and plan your travel budget accordingly 💵


13. Laundry

You may get away with not doing laundry if you’re only away for a week or two. If you’re staying in an Air BnB, you might be lucky and have a washing machine in your accommodation. But, if you’re traveling for longer, and staying in hotels or camping grounds, you’ll want to put some money aside in your travel budget for doing laundry.

Pro Tip: Bring a small amount of washing powder with you in a zip-lock bag! That way you can even do a small bit of hand washing in the sink if need be.

Travel Budget Laundry Costs


14. Internet/Phone Costs

I love my iPhone. It is so helpful when traveling – for taking photos, keeping in touch with family and friends, listening to music or podcasts… It’s also great for keeping electronic copies of important travel documents.

Just be careful of international roaming charges. And remember that you’ll be charged for receiving calls as well when abroad, not just for making them!

These days, most hotels offer free WiFi. It is pretty rare to have to pay for it nowadays but it’s worth checking this out before you book!

As I’ve suggested before, try sticking to free WiFi as much as possible. My husband usually keeps his phone on airplane mode for much of the holiday, only connecting to WiFi. This helps to ensure you don’t accidentally rack up a massive phone bill!  


15. Souvenirs

Granted, souvenirs can cost you as much or as little as you like. I’ve heard some parents buy their “souvenirs” at home before they even leave and hand them out to their kids either on the trip or when they get home. For the rest of your family, friends or co-workers, you may not even have to get anything, which is perfectly fine too.

But, you may want to buy a lovely keepsake or souvenir from your trip for yourself. I know we’ve started doing this recently and have some wonderful mementos from all around the world.

Note: Souvenirs don’t have to be tacky!! We’ve got some beautiful wood carvings from Bali and Thailand, a painting from Greece, a print from Italy and a hand-painted ceramic bowl from Tanzania.


Do you plan out your travel budget ahead of time or do you simply go with the flow and splash out on whatever is needed? Are there any items you budget for that I haven’t included in my list unexpected travel costs? Please leave a comment below and let me know!


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Travel Budget 15 Easily Forgotten Costs


24 thoughts on “15 Sneaky Travel Costs That Could Accidentally Blow Your Travel Budget”

  1. Oh I love your tip about the sunscreen! I have an autoimmune disease (lupus) that makes me so sensitive to the sun that I have to wear sunscreen pretty much every time I leave the house. This ten hour stuff is a game changer! Thanks!

    • Wow, that must be difficult to deal with, especially when you’re away from home! I absolutely love P20 sunscreen! So much easier to not have to worry about it the rest of the day.

  2. Good advice. Personally, I don’t really do travel budgets. I just travel with the philosophy of spending as little as possible each day. This works better for me. But, yeah ..some of these costs are avoidable.

    • I like that approach, Tony! I’ve used a similar tactic before as well and it almost becomes like a mini competition with myself 🙂 haha! I think it’s good to be prepared for the pre-travel costs though, as it can quickly add up!

  3. This is a great list! I love that you included vaccinations. It’s been a while since I took a trip where I needed one!

    Also, I have a hard time figuring out how much to tip and who to tip in America, and I’m American! I do always look up the tipping situation in each country I visit before I go. I have been told not to tip before when I was still a new traveler!

    • Honestly, tipping is one of the things I am always unsure about! I’m sure there’s been times when I’ve either totally over-tipped or under-tipped. It’s not something we’re used to much here in Europe!

  4. These are great tips and pretty much items that get us EVERY TIME!

    The most expensive Visa that I ever paid for was Brazil…so far. It’s good for seven or eight years so we want to try to visit again before it’s up. This is a huge tip, though, because I feel like people miss this one or don’t always know enough to research what they need legally before visiting a country.

    Our house/cat sitter is one of our biggest expenses that is something you don’t associate vacations with as easily as airfare and hotels. Four cats adds up. It’s still cheaper than a dog kennel but…

    As we get older, we pay to pick our seats like the old people we are. So those planes with the awful 3, 5, 3 seating kill me for 12+ hour flights. We just paid more for Germany to book the two row seats in the back, and they had extra leg room. SO WORTH IT. But again, it adds up fast.

    This post is truly great! Those local taxes and transfers take people off guard too. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Christine! Wow, I didn’t realise some visas were valid for such a long time – definitely sounds like a great idea to head back to Brazil before yours is up!
      I totally agree that it’s not always easy to know what is required, legally, before visiting a country. Things like proof of onward journey can catch some people out too.
      Ha! I wouldn’t necessarily say you guys are old!! LOL! But, sometimes it’d worth forking out a big of extra cash for the comfort you get in return!

  5. I am saving hard and hope to do some travelling in 2019 so this is very helpful! The passport is a very good point as mine is due for renewal next year! Thanks for sharing 🙂 x

    • Oh, yay! Where do you hope to travel to in 2019? We still need to get planning too… So many places, and so little time 😉 Definitely a good idea to keep an eye on the passport expiry date.

  6. All great points! It really drives me nuts when you have a perfectly good passport and you need to renew it way before the 6 months. I remember coming home the day before my passport expired and it was fine. Mind you that way long, long time ago 🙂

  7. What great tips your post provides! I travel frequently and loved it. I had a friend recently that learned the hard way about the passport. Thank you for a great post!

  8. Loved this post, and loved most of all that all these tips are things we usually take into consideration before we travel. 😛 I need to be better about exchanging money before the trip though. We try to use our credit card where ever we go (no international fees and we receive cash back on every transaction), but it is obviously always good to have some cash on hand for smaller places.

    • Yay! Great that you already take all of this into consideration – Do you have any other costs you bear in mind before travel? Credit cards are definitely a great idea as long as there are no international fees! Cashback is an awesome benefit too!

    • Yes, hotel taxes are crazy, definitely in the US!! I find the US quite difficult as a whole since you have to calculate on taxes yourself for most things!!

  9. Great tips for not breaking your travel budget. A lot of these I would have never thought of and I can see how they could easily bring you over budget.


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