7 Unexpected Travel Expenses You Might Not Have Thought About

When we’re planning an overseas trip, we often sit at our desks in the months before, mapping out our flights, accommodation and daily food budget, but when it comes to the crunch, a successful trip abroad involves many more expenses than we realise.

You’ve saved up for your dream trip – your flights are paid for, hotels or hostels are booked, and you’ve got enough set aside for food, alcohol and maybe a souvenir or two. But what about the other, smaller expenses that you may not have thought about? If you’re going for a while, you might need to pick up some soap and toothpaste at some point… and you’ll probably be needing travel insurance just in case something unexpected happens.

When we plan a holiday, we often remember the more expensive, obvious things that we need to factor into our budgets. But it can be easy to forget the smaller, less pressing stuff. Keep the below in mind next time you are planning or saving for an overseas adventure – it might just mean you won’t be stranded, smelly and potentially ill without soap or travel insurance.

#1 Everyday items

Even though you’re travelling, you’re still going to need many of the basics you did at home. Your teeth will still need brushing, you’ll still need to soap yourself up in the shower on occasion, and it’s entirely possible you’ll need to restock your sunscreen.


If you’re away for a year and need to buy, say, a new bottle of body wash every two months, that adds up to $30 in a year – not a crazy amount of money, sure, but it could be the difference between another night in a hostel versus flying back home… and that’s not even taking into account the other everyday items you’ll need to pick up along the way.

#2 Travel insurance

Fifty one percent of Gen-Ys fail to take out travel insurance when they go overseas. It may not be top of your list of priorities, but it is more than worth the price you’ll pay for it. Almost half of all Australian travellers have made a claim on their travel insurance, mainly for emergency medical costs, loss or damage of belongings, accidents or thefts. If you fail to take out an insurance policy, it could end up costing you thousands more dollars in the long run – an expense you more than likely haven’t factored into your trip.

Make sure you check out what your travel insurance covers – you’ll often have to pay extra if you plan on going rock climbing, riding a motorbike or wandering into the street drunk (not that you’d ever plan to do that last one). Compare travel insurance coverage and figure out which is best for you.

#3 Visas

It often seems so easy to travel between countries nowadays that we forget borders still exist. On that note, have you remembered to include money for visas in your budget? This is especially important if you plan on travelling between countries. You might not need a visa to enter the Schengen zone, but if you plan on making a pit-stop in, say, Turkey, it’s going to cost you around US$60 (AU$80). Likewise, if you’re in the US and want to head south of the border for a weekend in Mexico, you’re going to have to fork out around 190 pesos (AU$12). Some visas you need to buy in advance, or you’ll pay extra at the airport – another good reason to add it to your budget.

#4 Tips

In several countries (here’s looking at you, America), tipping isn’t just encouraged, it’s expected. So even if your meal has only cost you $10, you’ll need to tip an extra 15-20%, unless you want to be seen as a scrooge. You’re often also expected to tip housekeeping, taxi drivers, concierges, tour guides… basically anyone who is providing you with a service. Be sure to keep that in mind when budgeting for each day.


It’s customary to tip bar staff too.

So, where do you need to tip? It’s pretty much a given in countries such as Dubai, South Africa and Russia… but considered rude in Japan and China.

#5 Currency exchange

Got a handful of dollar bills, but need them to be Euros? It will usually cost you at least a few dollars to exchange currencies, and if you’re away for a while, those few dollars can add up. Most currency exchanges charge a commission fee, so it’s a fairly unavoidable expense. You’re best off factoring this into your budget.

Withdrawing your cash in your required currency straight from an ATM is also probably not going to help, as banks will charge inter-bank fees on top of their current exchange rate. Either way, you’re going to be forking out some cash. Instead, make sure you’re part of the Global ATM Alliance so you don’t waste money on extra fees when withdrawing money from international ATMs.

#6 Departure tax

You remembered to pay for your visa to get into the country, but what about leaving again? Most countries with departure taxes have them included in your ticket price (hello China and Thailand). But others such as Indonesia and the Phillipines require you to pay a small fee at the airport. It’s not big bucks, but can still add up if you’re regularly travelling between countries.

#7 Transport

Airfare, check. Accommodation, check. But how exactly are you going to get from the airport to your hotel? More than likely, it’s not going to be a walkable distance. You’re going to need to catch a bus, a train or, if worse comes to worse, a taxi. This cost will vary greatly between countries, but it pays to research how you’re going to get from A to B before you depart. Trains might have stopped if you’re getting in late at night, or public transport to get where you need to be may not even exist.


Once you’ve arrived at your destination, you’re also going to need to travel from place to place… research the cheapest way to do so, and factor this in to your daily budget.

Che-Marie Trigg is a freelance writer and full-time subeditor. Her work has appeared in Virgin Australia Voyeur, Collective Hub and GoPlaces with Toyota magazines among others, as well as on websites like Broadsheet and Junkee. Follow her on Instagram @chemariet.

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