I Did What? 3 Stupid Money Mistakes I Recently Made While Traveling. Ouch!


I Did What? 3 Stupid Money Mistakes I Recently Made While Traveling. Ouch!

Stefanie O’Connell is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to “live the dream” on a starving artists’ budget at thebrokeandbeautifullife.com.

You know when you fundamentally disagree with someone or somebody does something so foreign or unfathomable to you that you just can’t wrap your brain around it?  I often feel that way when it comes to personal finance, or what I call common sense money, or lack thereof.

When I hear stories of people living in apartments that cost more per month than they earn or going on shopping sprees with credit cards already maxed out or adopting a dog when they supposedly can’t afford to feed themselves- I become overwhelmed with frustration.  Why?  Why? Why?

Well, there were a few instances recently, when I made less than ideal money moves that gave me a small window of insight into the “why”.

Too Fed up and Tired to Deal With It.  This sounds like a totally lame excuse for anything, but it’s one I used just a few weeks ago while on vacation.  After a long delay, a layover, and two flights, I finally arrived at my destination.  I had contacted the hotel beforehand to inquire about public transit options between them and the airport.  But after 24 hours of travel and an overwhelming desire to be done with transit, I went ahead and got myself a cab.  20 minutes later I was at my hotel, but 30 Euros poorer.

Financial Ignorance.  Unfortunately, I think a lot of money mistakes are made because people don’t know any better. I have read a lot of books and blogs over the years to make sure I don’t wind up paying for my own financial ignorance, but even I am not immune.  When I arrived at the airport, just before hailing my pricey cab, I went to the ATM to withdraw local currency.  I have a fabulous debit card that reimburses me for all ATM fees, even abroad, but the machine wasn’t reading it.  In my haste, I went ahead and used my credit card thinking I’d be covered under the “no foreign transaction fee” stipulation.  Well, withdrawing money abroad isn’t just a foreign transaction it’s also a cash advance, and while I didn’t get charged for the former, I got slapped with a $10 fee for the cash advance.

Failing to Inquire.  So many of the savings and strategies I implement on a daily basis come from my own research.  I typically don’t accept things outright, I inquire and find out before making any kind of decision.  Well rewind back to my trip for another financial failure.  I was flying back home to the states and I had a layover in Iceland.  For some reason, neither of my flights was serving a meal so I was desperate to get my hands on some food at the Reykjavik airport.  I had an hour but the selection of snacks by my gate wasn’t cutting it.  I had to run back to the main terminal to grab myself something before boarding.  I found a place, packaging meals to go, with a veggie lasagna- perfect.  Of course the prices were no longer in Euros so I had no idea what it cost.  I just handed my card over and ran back to my plane.  After waking up back home the next morning and reviewing my credit card statement, I saw it, $17, that knocked me right out of my jet-lagged grogginess.  I spent $17 on a to-go meal because I didn’t even bother checking the price.

So while I still shake my head at easily avoidable financial fumbles- I know I can’t be too quick to judge.  I’ve been there myself.

What silly mistakes have you made with your money?  What financial choices do you see others make that drive you crazy?



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  1. says

    I have TOTALLY done the cab thing. After my last business travel that had me delayed over 24 hours, I couldn’t resist the siren call of the cab. Ugh. Lessons for the future.

  2. says

    We all make mistakes!
    Planning ahead while traveling really does help. However, I know I’ve ended up spending on convenience or aspects f the trip I had never thought about.

  3. says

    I just saw a co-worker buy a new car, because he’s get better gas mileage. He old car a Honda Civic, was in good shape and already got good gas mileage. I just don’t understand the $29K purchase for a $20 saving a week.

  4. says

    I’ve totally done the cab thing at the airport. Sometimes you just get to a point where you feel that the extra price of a cab is worth being able to be in bed sleeping that much sooner. Sorry to hear about the to-go meal- that sucks!

  5. says

    Tired and hungry is not a good combination at all! I don’t blame you for taking the cab honestly. Travel hassles are just annoying to deal with. After going through a 22 hour move in a car, I probably would have paid anything not to have to drive again. Ugh.

  6. says

    I also make mistakes when I’m hungry or tired. Lack of information also gets me! I’ve made some dumb mistakes by not knowing something, then being too polite to speak up about it. Being too nice can get you in trouble too!

  7. says

    Ugh, when I went to Costa Rica, I got hit with ATM fees, advance fees, transaction fees, and conversion fees. I realized then that the best thing to do was use a debit card to get out cash at an ATM. Get the full amount (or half, depending on your length of stay), and then just use local currency. The one downside is if you cannot do the mental math to convert it.

    Nice article, Stefanie!

  8. says

    Airport meals are always so pricey to begin with. Probably the least you would have paid was $12 for something you didn’t even like. How was the lasagna?

  9. says

    I bet you weren’t the first tired hungry traveler to pay $17 for a to-go lasagna. I’m sure it is priced that way on purpose. I’m always careful with money in my daily life, but have made mistakes while travelling too. It’s because we are out of our element and have to make quick decisions or in my case the airline tacked on a new fee I wasn’t aware of.

  10. says

    I think we are guilty of making a few money mistakes! Like you, when I’m tired and frustrated is when I am most likely to just cave in and pay whatever when I’m traveling, especially with two young kids. Not a good policy by any means, but it happens occasionally. This happened many years ago, when our family was going to Turks and Caicos for a vacation. My husband said we didn’t need a passport for Taylor because she under a specific age (I can’t remember any longer). Well, of course, that wasn’t the case. My husband felt terrible, and it was a honest mistake on his part. So he and Lauren went to Turks and Caicos while I tried to get a passport for Taylor. Lesson learned! :)

  11. says

    I have made LOTS of mistakes, but a recent one was going to a non-bank ATM. I HATE to do this but I was with a group of people going to dinner and we all had to pay cash and I didn’t have much on me so I went to the nearest ATM which was not my bank’s. I really hate to through $2.50 away.

  12. says

    “For some reason, neither of my flights was serving a meal so I was desperate to get my hands on some food at the Reykjavik airport.” As soon as you said that I went, “uh-oh!” ha! As I was just here and yes the prices are crazy! Hey, we can’t be perfect all the time. It’s going to happen!

  13. says

    I don’t know if it will make you feel better about the foreign transaction fee, but I learned the hard way once to never leave the airport without 24 hours of whatever foreign currency on you. I know they totally hose you on exchange rates at airports, but I wound up in a really tight spot in Amsterdam a few years ago when we only exchanged like dollars into like 20 Euros, assuming we’d find a better currency exchange in the city center. Not only were none open, but no ATM’s were working or would take any of our cards…. which we figured after blowing half of that at a carnival we walked through. $10 would’ve been well worth it to me then.

  14. Jacqueline says

    I did the cab thing, was running late to catch my flight and none of the lyft or sidecars were available. I was told Ueber is also less expensive than a regular cab. Had to take an Uber since all other cars weren’t available and ended up paying $100 (the driver didn;t give me a number when I got in the car but assured me it will be a great rate). I ended up missing my flight, had to wait till the next day (thankfully at no extra charge), the regular cab would’ve been $30 or $45. I was furious. Never again will I not research before or get in a car without a quote. Oh and I took the bus and train back home, which was no big deal and only $8 total.

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