Ask a Singaporean what his or her favourite hobby is, and you’re likely to get the answer, “travelling”, or, worse, “wanderlusting”.
That’s why Singaporeans are such frequent travellers, taking an average of 5.2 trips in 2016. In fact, if a colleague at work takes leave on a Friday or Monday, they are almost certainly gallivanting in Bangkok or something.
All that travelling can get expensive, yet people often get careless and waste unnecessary money by making silly mistakes out of laziness or negligence. Here are four common travel planning mistakes to avoid.
Booking flights at the last minute
Who says Singaporeans aren’t spontaneous? A recent survey found that 2 in 5 Singaporeans book trips at the last minute.
But booking flights on short notice often means you end up paying more. $50 here and there might not sound like a lot, but if you go on frequent trips it all adds up.
People often end up booking trips at the last minute over public holidays because they die-die must leave Singapore over a long weekend and didn’t bother to plan ahead. This is the most costly type of last minute booking, since flight prices are already higher than usual due to the surge of people leaving the country.
Not sure when’s the best time to book your flights? Check out this article elsewhere on MoneySmart.
Paying too much for travel insurance
When you’re buying your air tickets, don’t blindly buy the travel insurance the airline is dangling at you. Here’s why it’s a bad idea.
At the same time, don’t just google “travel insurance singapore” and buy insurance from the first insurer that pops up. If an insurance company appeared at the #1 spot in Google’s search results, it just means they’ve got a really good SEO team.
To avoid getting ripped off, compare travel insurance plans from various insurers right here on MoneySmart so you can pick a plan that offers the best value. The more you travel, the more you save (since you wouldn’t dream of going abroad without travel insurance, right?), so this is the gift that keeps giving.
Not being careful to avoid unnecessary fees
You’re too busy taking selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower and googling for hipster cafes in Bangkok to bother worrying about the little details. But if you don’t pay attention you’ll be wasting cash by paying lots of unnecessary fees.
Budget airlines are notorious for trying to charge you for a number of things to make up for the fact that your flight itself cost almost nothing. Watch out for baggage fees if you’re taking a budget flight that doesn’t allow you to check in luggage for free.
If you shop too much and your bag exceeds the weight or size limits of carry-on baggage on your way back, you’ll be forced to pay to check it in at the airport, and it’s not going to cheap. The same applies if you’re trying to bring back liquids like sauces or beauty products that aren’t allowed on board.
When you use your credit cards overseas, you also get charged fees that basically augment the price of everything you buy. You’ll be charged a foreign currency conversion fee as well as a transaction fee, all while having your currency converted at a very bad rate. All in all, expect to pay 3% to 5% more. Even with benefits like air miles or rewards points, there’s a high chance you’re better off just converting cash into the local currency unless you have the right credit card to reward your overseas expenditure.
Not budgeting well
Just as you should have a budget for your day-to-day spending, you should come up with a budget for your trip. You might be overseas, and yes booze might be cheaper in most other countries, but that doesn’t give you a free pass to spend all your money.
When budgeting for a trip, you should come up with an overall amount you’re comfortable spending, including the price of air tickets and transportation from the airport to your destination.
Then break that sum up into accommodation, food, souvenirs, attractions and other costs such as inter-city buses. At the planning stage, you will soon see for example that if you wish to eat at restaurants every day of your trip, you will have to sacrifice some comfort by picking cheaper accommodation.
How do you try to save money when you travel? Share your tips in the comments!