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6 Unexpected Things Singaporeans End Up Forking Out Money For When They Travel

Joanne Poh

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The great thing about Singapore is that when you get sick of the unbearable weather and the suffocating crowds, you can get out super easily. All you have to do is hop on a $100 budget flight and you’re in a resort in a country with real beaches and where everything suddenly looks affordable.

… Or can you? While going on overseas holidays can look cheap just based on budget ticket prices in the region, don’t let that fool you into thinking your entire getaway will be as cheap as a restaurant meal for two. There are lots of hidden costs that can easily turn that quick and dirty trip to Bangkok or Bali into a money sink.

 

1. Trip to and from Changi Airport

Before you congratulate yourself for scoring those $100 budget air tickets, take a good look at your flight times. If your flight departs at 5am, that could mean you’ll have to take a taxi to Changi Airport with hefty midnight surcharge.

If you live in the west and are cabbing to and from Changi Airport while paying midnight surcharge, you could well end up forking out the entire price of your air ticket in taxi fare. Check if Uber is cheaper or consider going to the airport before the MRT shuts down if you have an early morning flight.

 

2. Airport food

No matter how short your flight is, you’re going to be spending at least a few hours in airports. If you’ve got a stopover, you can extend that tally to, uh, half your life. And as thrifty as you might be while you’re on the road, there’s no avoiding spending a bit of money on airport food if you’re on a long layover.

Tough luck for you, because airport food tends to be overpriced and (unless you’re in Japan or Hong Kong) taste like cardboard. It’s always a good idea to have on hand a few emergency energy bars or packets of Tao Kae Noi when you travel, just in case you don’t want to spend $20 on the “Asian fried rice”.

 

3. Souvenirs

Just because you’re not the sort of person who believes in buying tourist junk doesn’t mean you might not still end up spending on souvenirs anyway.

Even if you live like a monk, that doesn’t mean you won’t still have to make a guilt-driven last minute visit to the airport gift shop to stock up on snacks for your long-suffering colleagues who’ve been covering your ass in your absence.

The same goes for your aged parents who’ve been putting up with your kids’ antics while you were away, or the neighbour who’s been keeping your plants/cat alive. Unless you’re creative enough to find a free way to obtain mementos for these people, your gratitude comes at a price.

 

4. Wi-Fi / internet cafe

The days when people travelled without smartphones and laptops in tow seem like a distant dream. These days, the first thing Singaporeans do when they sit down at a cafe or restaurant is to ask for the Wi-Fi password.

The fact that the lines between work and life have blurred so much also means that there’s a high chance your boss will be emailing you on your holiday, or you might be trying to clear some work while you travel.

If that’s the case, you’d better hope there’s free Wi-Fi at your hotel, and that the connection is stable. Otherwise you could end up wasting money on Wi-Fi or, worse, going to an internet cafe (yes, they still exist in some places).

 

5. Checking in luggage

Many Singaporeans go to Bangkok with nothing but a small backpack—and come back with a few of those massive rainbow-coloured bags stuffed with shopping. Unfortunately, if you’re flying budget, you’ll be charged for checking in luggage—much more so if you don’t purchase luggage space in advance at the time of booking.

If it’s only day two of your holiday and you’re already sharing the bed with your shopping, it’s wise to call the airline in advance and purchase luggage space if you haven’t already. Otherwise any luggage you try to check in might be rejected or charged hefty excess baggage fees.

 

6. Pet hotel

Don’t worry about Rover or Princess. There are more than enough fancy pet boarding facilities that will assuage your guilt for leaving your pet all alone, including this five star kitty and doggy hotel.

Obviously, they don’t come cheap, especially when you factor in surcharges and transportation. You might even end up paying more for your pet’s little staycation than your own accommodation. If you want to save a bit of cash, engage a freelance petsitter on this site instead.

Have you ever had to fork out money for any the above? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.