The Hidden Costs of Traveling


A few people have asked me recently how much my trip to South America cost, and how much I’ve spent on traveling now. I don’t have an answer to these questions, because apart from the fact that I just don’t care and haven’t sat down to work it out (ignorance really is bliss when it comes to money), there are a lot of hidden costs to factor in that other people don’t always think about.

1. Travel Insurance
There is a well known saying a lot of insurance companies use: ‘If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel.’ This isn’t just a marketing ploy, its a fact. You might think a delayed or a missed flight will be covered by the airline, but this can be a much lengthier process and a bit more hassle than dealing with an insurance company. And then there’s healthcare. Yes in Europe we have the EHIC card, but that won’t cover the air ambulance you may need if you injure yourself on a mountain.

2. Visas
For certain countries, depending on your nationality, you may need a tourist visa in order to enter the country. I recently discovered that as a British citizen I have to pay for a tourist visa in the USA, even if I’m merely transitting through (getting a connecting flight). If you choose to work abroad, a work visa will cost you a lot too. Everyone will tell you that you’ll earn the money back when you do end up working in your dream destination.

3. Currency Exchanging
Everyone knows foreign currency can be expensive to exchange. You will be charged commission at some point, and if you’re not, you will be if you have any cash left to exchange when/if you return home. So you have a cash card or you’re going to stick to ATMs to avoid the extortionate commission? That’s not clever. ATM fees abroad are colossal, almost all of them charge commission AND a usage fee. Cash cards are the same- if you use them at ATMs you will also be stung with commission and usage fee. It’s pretty much an unavoidable cost, but you don’t notice it so much because often you’ll find that dealing with foreign money is like playing with monopoly money.

4. Vaccinations
This is a travel cost everyone forgets about. For a lot of places you will need vaccinations. If you’re a Brit reading this be warned that these injections don’t come free on the NHS. You will have to pay for them, regardless of which health centre you visit. Some injections even come as a course of three or more, and you have to pay for each one, separately. If you are going somewhere you think you may need injections for, you generally need to give your doctor 6-8 weeks notice (this allows for the long courses of injections you may need). Apart from the obvious health benefits, a major plus of travel vaccinations is that most last 5-10 years, which I interpret as 5-10 years of traveling to make the most of these injections!

5. Traveling to and from Airports
I bet you didn’t factor this into your budget. In Rio, I paid £52 for a transfer from the airport to my hostel. Why? Well there was the whole safety aspect- I didn’t want to risk getting in an unlicensed taxi and being taken somewhere never to be seen again. But even if you’re going to a safer country, you probably didn’t think about the cost of the taxi journey from the airport when you land. Airports are generally out of town, and not all of them are easily accessible by public transport.
Just something for you to think about when you’re working out your budget for your next trip!

So with all this in mind, it really is no wonder that I am clueless as to how much I’ve spent on traveling so far. Whatever it is, to me it is very much worth it!


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