Hidden costs that should be considered in every travel budget

Setting the right travel budget is no rocket science, but an exhausting task. With Leap, you can make the algorithm do the work for you. Our database contains costs of accommodation, food, and transport of top travel destinations across the world. But wait, are these the only costs that will occur when traveling around the world? Great, you’re asking. They are certainly not the only costs that you will face. There are a few hidden and nasty to budget costs that come up during your trip. Even worse: you do not have any control over most of these costs. While costs for accommodation, food, transport, and activities depend on your preferences, these costs are defined by (bad) luck. Here are the small (and often unseen) costs of travel that everyone planning to travel long-term should be aware of and consider in their travel budget:


  • Visa.

    • Part I: While for most countries visa requirements are getting lower each year, visa fees do not. Governments worldwide either increase the visa price tag directly or through additional service and administration charges, making your visa expenses taking over a significant portion of your travel budget. While more people are willing to go on long-term travels, ministries of foreign affairs have not updated their policies for decades. Do not get surprised if you have to extend your visa every 30 days or something. It’s important to understand the terms of your visa well as some countries provide a visa for three months visa but limit the maximum stay to 30 consecutive days. In such cases, you might have to go on so-called visa runs. 

    • Part II: With more people than ever traveling to foreign countries, embassies and consulates have a higher workload than ever before. For you, when applying for a visa, it means that you will have to wait longer for getting your passport back. Some years ago, it was enough to tell the visa officer about your already booked flights or trains to speed up the process, but nowadays you are asked to pay an additional fee.

    • Part III: Sometimes your visa spending is not done after receiving back your passport. Some countries have introduced stamping fees at border controls which mostly will come as a surprise as there is no official information regarding this available on the internet. While these may only amount to a few dollars, it may add up to a high amount as you travel around the world.


  • Outbound Flight. As tourism is an attractive source of income for economies, many countries facilitate inbound tourism by giving out visas at low cost or even for free. However, a large influx of tourists has also resulted in tourists becoming illegal immigrants. To cope with illegal immigrants, some countries added the presence of outbound flight tickets to their list of visa requirements which makes it impossible to exit the country by any other means of transport. If you are planning a road trip across different countries, make sure to not start your trip in a country that asks for an outbound flight as entering that country by plane means that you will have to leave the country by plane as well.


  • Cheating/Corruption. Let’s face it: not every country or society is open to tourists. While of course, the majority of people you meet in your travels are good-hearted, a few individuals are not. Knowing that you are helpless in your situation or unaware of the circumstances, rules and policies in a foreign place make you the perfect target for cheating on prices or corruption. What those evil people also know is that even after realizing that you have fallen into the trap, chances you will file a complaint at the police are low as you might already be at a completely different place or not able to recognize their faces. While it is good advice to inform yourself about the regular prices of an activity or transportation service beforehand, you simply cannot completely avoid getting tricked here and there. We, therefore, advise you to plan an extra budget for instances where you have to pay more than the regular price.


  • ATM Fees. While banking fees might be regulated in your home country, they might not be at your travel destination. Banks at their ATMs often can more or less charge whatever they want for foreign credit cards with either lump sums or percentages of the withdrawal amount. We, therefore, recommend you to make yourself aware of the ATM fees and withdrawal limits of popular banks at your travel destination and consider the fees in your budget.


  • Forex Fees. Taking out money at ATMs instead of money exchange agents is a good strategy to avoid unnecessary costs. However, some border crossings require you to pay in US dollars. If you are not carrying USD, you will have to get it from exchange counters at additional fees. Not just visa but even essentials such as transport, food, and accommodation are priced in USD in some countries like Cambodia. Our recommendation: carry a good amount of USD with you in cash or connect to expats at your travel destination who would be more than happy to exchange their “old” USD to local currency.


  • Inefficiencies. If you want to save money on your travels, preparation is the key. However, the charm of travel is to explore a new place when you are there, not via your computer screen. While in your home country, you know what means of traffic is the cheapest for which kind of travel, this may be different at your travel destination. Costly taxi rides, single metro tickets where a day ticket would have been the cheaper option, etc. cannot be completely avoided. For the first days, you are at a new place, we recommend you to consider a slightly higher budget as you are new to the place and very likely to spend more by taking the obvious but often more expensive options.


  • Ticket Counter Discrimination. Imagine the following scenario: you searched online for the price of a zoo ticket at your travel destination and found it to be incredibly cheap. Reaching the ticket counter, you are kindly but strictly asked to pay 10 times the price you found online because you are a foreign national. That’s what regularly happens in India and other developing countries. Our advice: in developing countries, plan the cost of one-time activities at public institutions at the same level as in your home country.


  • Safety. Sometimes you want to spend extra money in order to make sure your safety is not in danger. If you have the choice between a governmental train and a slightly cheaper private bus, go for the rail if the bus operator does not look trustable to you. Your gut feeling is often a good advisor. You neither want to find yourself at a lonely bus stop at night nor arguing with the conductor about a hidden fee he wants to charge from you.


  • Repairs. Things get damaged, things get broken, especially electronics during travels. Bumpy streets, electrical frequency or voltage fluctuation and high moisture can cause damage to your laptop, camera or mobile phone. While you might not have a warranty for all your devices, repairs can go as high as the price for a new device. Always make sure to keep your data stored either in a remote drive or in the cloud to avoid data loss.

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