What Travelers Who Are Good With Money Don't Buy on Trips, According to Experts

Use the money you save to book your next trip.

Tourists looking at souvenirs in Barcelona
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We all enjoy feeling carefree when we're traveling on vacation, but those lighthearted emotions can sometimes lead to unnecessary spending. I'm not suggesting that you pinch pennies or sacrifice enjoyable experiences, but advice from experts can help avoid wasting money or returning home with buyer's remorse (along with tacky souvenirs).

In an interview with Travel + Leisure, Kristen Gall, retail and shopping expert at Rakuten, the leading cash back shopping platform, said, "When it comes to traveling, it's hard to resist buying items so you can have a piece of that memory at home. However, it's important to remember that you don't need every souvenir that catches your eye."

Bottles of champagne for sale at the La Cave Le Verre Vole wine store in Paris, France
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Gall added, "When traveling abroad, I recommend only purchasing items that you can't get back at home, or that are small enough to not impact your luggage weight. If you're set on bringing home a souvenir, save up for one special thing, rather than wasting your money on a bunch of trinkets you may not think twice about once you return home."

If you've ever had to leave a purchase behind at security or customs, you'll agree with Gall's advice here. "It's important to keep in mind that you're going to have to travel back with everything you purchased. So, avoid buying fragile, bulky, and heavy items, as you will likely have to pay for oversized luggage fees once you get to the airport. Be careful when buying food or wine, as it may not make it through customs. Foods like chocolate are typically fine, but items like meat and produce are likely prohibited to come back into the country."

California financial advisor Gerry Andrade of Gerry Andrade & Associates agrees with Gall's advice. As a frequent traveler with his family, Andrade recommends only buying items that are unique and can be easily transported. He shared a story of one trip during which his 10-year old son saw a painting in Rome's Piazza Navona and loved it so much that they bought it for him, making sure it was placed safely in a tube and packed in their luggage. After a few more destinations, they arrived home and found the painting was missing. In other words, an important purchase, whether for monetary or sentimental value, can easily be lost while traveling.

Andrade also offered ways to save and manage money while traveling, including using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. The card he uses also provides cash rebates for every purchase. "While traveling, we use this credit card exclusively so we can monitor any fraudulent charges. More importantly, this eliminates the need to carry a lot of cash that can easily be lost or stolen." Andrade added," We also carry a separate debit card that we can use to access currency at ATMs if needed in a particular country. There's a bank fee, but for the convenience, it's worth it." According to several sources, ATMs offer the best exchange rates as well as convenience.

A businessman is paying with credit card at the hotel reception
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Travelers who are watching their money can save by planning, comparing, and researching hotels, restaurants, and tours. This is where travel advisors or agents can be a great resource. According to JoAnn Caputo Tripi of Protravel International in Westbury, New York, travel advisors can often secure resort credits, bulk airfare rates, and room upgrades, in addition to providing local knowledge and experience. So, travelers who are good with money do their homework before booking, as well as take advantage of experts' advice. On the subject of shopping, if a souvenir or gift is necessary, Tripi recommends not buying it at the airport or hotel shop.

As for hotels, Tripi notes prepaid or advance purchase hotel rooms. While they offer a discount, they're paid in full and nonrefundable. The pandemic has taught us the value of flexibility, and the peace of mind that comes with the ability to cancel if necessary is worth a few dollars. In addition, travelers who are good with money don't frequent the minibar in their room.

Eating at restaurants is another major expense when on the road, but thrifty travelers look for local establishments rather than heading to hotel dining rooms for every meal. They also avoid spots that look "touristy" while conserving their vacation funds. Tripi suggests travelers skip the hotel breakfast unless they're included in the room charge. Instead of a full breakfast, go for a cornetto in Italy, croissant in France, or pastel de nata in Portugal, along with your morning coffee.

Friends drink at local store
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Renting a car can sometimes be a necessity, but travelers should compare the cost of alternatives like trains, public transportation, taxis, and car services before deciding on a rental. Consider the cost of parking, which can be quite high and poorly accessible in some countries. If a rental is the best means of transportation, be sure to research whether you need additional insurance coverage. Many credit cards and auto insurance policies cover rental cars, saving you a considerable amount — often as much as the daily rate.

Travelers who watch their spending also don't buy travel insurance without reading the fine print. They know exactly what's covered, comparing rates and details, and understanding exclusions. Before buying medical coverage, check with your current policies to avoid duplicating insurance. Travel policies that reimburse for trip interruptions, cancellations, and changes should also be evaluated carefully before purchase. Be aware that travel insurance policies and rules vary by state.

Blurred People Crossing Road, Top View
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Travel generally involves a lot of walking. Even if you don't sign up for walking tours (often an economical and enjoyable way to explore a destination), just getting through airports can involve miles. Money-wise, travelers don't buy cheap shoes that aren't comfortable or won't survive rain and cobblestone streets, according to Tripi. The same goes for luggage. Who wants to deal with a broken suitcase wheel, damp clothing, or ruined belongings?

If you adopt some of these ideas or come up with your own, you can travel confidently knowing that you may have saved enough to start planning your next trip.

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