You would think that after almost a decade of travels, I would be a travel pro.
I’m no amateur, but I wouldn’t consider myself a master in the art either. I still make costly mistakes.
I recently went on a 20-month long trip around the world to every continent and made a ton of mistakes regarding expenses. I do learn from my mishaps, but then I go ahead and make new unforeseen ones. It’s like a never-ending cycle. I also learned a lot of neat ways to save money during these adventures that I will highlight on a future post.
Always remember this: There is no such thing as a perfect way to travel adventurously around the world. That’s what makes it an adventure.
With that said, during my recent trip I jotted down all of the costly mistakes I made while traveling along with tips on how I could have prevented it. I hope my blunders set an example of budget mistakes you can avoid on your next adventure.
Missed my flight from Dubai to Tajikistan because I didn’t have a visa. -$400
United Emirate Airlines wouldn’t let me board my flight to Tajikistan because I didn’t apply for a proper visa to enter the country. I guess I missed the part about having to apply for a visa in advance. Whoops.
This almost happened again for my Brazil tourist visa. Thankfully, there was a Brazilian embassy in Cape Town, where I was situated at the time. Dodged that bullet!
Always, always remember to check the visa conditions for a country far in advance. In Tajikistan’s case, US citizens need to apply for one in advance and pick it up at the airport.
Went to the wrong bus station by accident in Germany. -$25
I needed to get to Cologne, but I went to the wrong freaking bus station. You should have seen me wandering around trying to find my bus that didn’t exist. I later checked the reservation email on my phone and found the address to the correct bus station listed at the bottom of the email.
I had to catch a more expensive train to another bus station, to catch the connecting bus I already booked prior.
Do read your email reservations carefully. Many travel reservations will have the direct address of where you need to be.
Ignored flight alert from South Africa Airways. -$340
This was pure procrastination on my part. While walking across Spain, I received an email alert from South Africa Airways that my credit card didn’t go through for my flight to Johannesburg in a few months and that I needed to contact them soon. I ignored it, thinking I would get to it later. Well, I ignored it for too long!
When I later tried to rebook the flight, my original departure was filled up. Thus, I had to book a new, more expensive ticket on an earlier date than I planned for.
Don’t put things like this off or it may deter your travels. If you get an alert from an airline saying to contact them immediately, then do it immediately!
This is me kissing my hard-earned cash goodbye!
Took an Uber to the wrong terminal in Mumbai. -$10
This is another example of not carefully reading my email reservations. It clearly stated to go to Terminal A on the bottom of the ticket. I didn’t see it until my driver dropped me of at Terminal B and I was wondering why I couldn’t find my airline. No problem. I ‘ll just walk to Terminal A.
Sounds simple enough if Terminal A wasn’t all the way on the other freakin’ side of the giant airport. I had to catch a taxi to get there.
Another case of reading your email reservations carefully. For flight reservations, check and see if there is any text imprint about which terminal you should depart from.
Accidentally stuck the wrong Aussie note into a ticket machine. -$30
I just landed in Melbourne from Tasmania. I needed to catch a train into the city. I went to the ticket machine to load up my Myki card (the cards locals use to get around on public transportation) and instead of putting in a smaller note, I accidentally stuck in a $50 note and I couldn’t get it back! There was no way I was going to be using this card all that much unfortunately. I used only about $20 of it. I gave my Myki card away to a backpacker I met in India who was on his way to Melbourne.
This I could have EASILY avoided if I just paid attention to what the heck I was doing. To be fair, it was an Australian note, which I wasn’t used to. Not a great excuse, I know.
Familiarize yourself with foreign currency. It can be confusing.
I have cheap friends. -$30
During my birthday in Nepal, my friends were so broke that I bought THEM drinks.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t want to be the only drunk one…That’s just no fun.
Don’t have cheap friends.
Dropped new iPhone into ugly water in Fiji. -$1,100
This was my biggest budget blunder I made during my trip and it happened fairly early into it.
I had my new iPhone I just bought a few months ago slung around my neck in a waterproof shell. I stood on the top of a cliff on a gloomy day, ready to rope swing into a pond of poopy looking water. I knew darn well that the day was unfit for recording any awesome footage, but so I went anyway. I rope-swung into the poop water and as I fell in the air, my iPhone came loose around my neck and landed into the water as I plunged into it. I quickly surfaced to try to retrieve it, but the water was so brown and 15 meters deep. I couldn’t see nor even attempt to get it.
It was still early into my trip. I needed to have a phone and more importantly, I needed my music. I had to buy a new iPhone in Suva, Fiji’s capital which costed me way more than it did at home in the States.
I still kick myself for that one.
Don’t be a dingus like I was. Sometimes it’s not worth risking your expensive gadgets. Think about it first. I knew perfectly well that there was no need to have my phone with me that day. My gut told me to leave it behind, but no. I just had to show off.
Wasted Airbnb’s in South Africa. -$300
I left too much in the hands in one my travel buddies. I left it to him to book our Airbnb’s in South Africa and boy did he splurge. The accommodation’s looked stunning…but perhaps too stunning and way too big for just three of us. I knew this from the get go. We would spend most of the time out and about and wouldn’t be able to properly utilize our accommodations. Now if it were a larger group of us to split the costs, then yes, I’d be all for it. The other third traveler in this group and I were fine with being in hostels, which turned out to be a lot more fun.
To be fair, my friend did ask us for our permission and thoughts before he booked them. My gut was telling me to say no because it would be pointless, but I let it be. My own fault for not speaking up.
His budget was only for South Africa. My budget was for the whole world.
If someone in your travel group is being too extra and wants you to be extra too, then let them know because we all have different budgets.
There’s no doubt this pricey place was amazing. But we were barely there and it was way too big for just three people.
Bought wrong type of visa in Zambia and Zimbabwe. -$30
Victoria Falls is claimed by both Zambia and Zimbabwe in Africa. A buddy and I went to Zimbabwe to visit the falls, not realizing that the fun part of the falls was on the Zambia side. By fun part, I mean swimming in a pool on the edge of the waterfall. We couldn’t miss this so we repaid for another visa to get us back into Zambia and then back to Zimbabwe. Then we had to cross back into Zambia the next day to catch a flight. I never crossed a border so much in such a short amount of time.
Once again, pay attention to visa requirements and also do your research when booking excursions on your own. Being that Victoria Falls was in both countries, we should have checked which side had access to the pools.
Total Amount Wasted (in USD) = Approximately $2,265+
I put the “+” because I’ve made a ton of smaller scale mistakes, among these bigger budget blunders. Like accidentally using my non-travel credit card on a foreign purchase resulting in foreign transaction fees, getting ripped off while bargaining, etc.
Heed my advice and avoid my mistakes well for your own adventures! If you made any costly blunders on your own and would like to share, then please do!
For more posts like these and everything related to ADVENTURE TRAVEL, please subscribe by clicking the Follow button on this page and also follow along on Instagram and Facebook! I’d love to hear from you! 🙂