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Money Traps That Every Expert Traveler Avoids

Sure, it's tempting to turn off the part of your brain that pays attention to your bank balance when you're on holiday, but your hard-earned vacation money need not go to waste. Avoid these money traps, so you don't end up wasting your dollars on your next big trip.

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01Buying gimmicky souvenirs

Woman browsing in a gift shop. Eva-Katalin / Getty Images

Souvenirs are a great way to remember your vacation and all the fun things you enjoyed throughout your trip, but if you want to stretch your dollars for even more memories, try to avoid the gift shop. A gimmicky souvenir will likely only go to waste, ending up tossed in a drawer while you relish the real souvenirs you found along the way--like the sun hat you had to buy for that last-minute ziplining adventure. If you're going to get a souvenir, choose something truly special that will call back specific memories of your vacay.

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02Taking too many extra days

Suitcase packed in hotel room. bogdankosanovic / Getty Images

When you're planning your vacation, and when you first arrive at your destination, you're likely to utter some words along the lines of, "I hope this trip never ends!" Of course, any avid traveler knows that staying in one place for too long--even an entire week--can lead to the fun wearing off. If you plan things right, you won't reach the end of your vacation, itching to go home. Instead, you should board the plane before the fun levels off, cutting a great deal off your hotel bill. Flying mid-week can also save you money on tickets.

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03Splurging on expensive snacks

Woman paying at a hot dog stand. ferrantraite / Getty Images

You know how a lot of people pack their own snacks to sneak into the movies? That's because we all know that the candy is heavily marked up at the theater, so we try to make a wise financial decision. On your vacation, it's no different! Rather than telling yourself, "It's my vacay, I'll splurge on everything," you can save loads of your money for more meaningful things by starting the day with a big breakfast (perhaps one offered by the hotel) and packing hydrating water and drinks to take with you. Have granola bars and other filling snacks on-hand to avoid unplanned stops, and put all that snack money towards nice meals together instead. Your wallet (and waistline) will thank you!

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04Paying full price for attractions

Theme park ticket stand with line of people. andresr / Getty Images

Most attractions have discounts for members of certain clubs, people of certain age groups, and as part of promotions, run throughout the year. So, if you spend your whole vacation walking right up to the ticket counter, you're bound to waste money. Instead, research the biggest attractions you hope to see in advance of your trip. Some deals are only available if you book online, and others may only be available if you commit a little while in advance of your trip. In addition to the attraction's advertised deals, be sure to check any number of deal sites! Buying tickets in advance can also get you into a shorter admission line, so it's a real win-win.

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05Overplanning every day

Tired child crying in the backseat of a car. AJ_Watt / Getty Images

If you don't get the chance to take a vacation too often, you may find yourself looking to fit as much as possible into your trip. That's totally normal, but it's not what an expert traveler would advise you to do. Instead, sit down with your travel buddies (or, if you're traveling solo, be happy you get to call all the shots!) and discuss what you want to do the most. Work those into your schedule, and then make a list of other activities that you can fit in when you have free time. Try to schedule no more than 4-6 hours of activities each day, and you'll have the flexibility to decide what to do with the rest based on how you feel, how the weather looks, and what new things you've discovered since arriving.

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06Flying when you can drive

Woman in driver's seat looking out window with map. swissmediavision / Getty Images

Maybe it's the fun of stepping off a plane and being at your destination in a matter of hours. Maybe it's the temptation to avoid the service station stops and inevitable traffic that comes with driving. Whatever the case may be, vacationers all too often choose to fly to a destination that's less than a day's drive away, and that can really eat away at your budget. Plus, if you fly in, you're more likely to rent a car during your trip or have to pay for ride-sharing or public transportation to get to and from places. Not only does that cost money, but waiting around for transport or picking up and returning a rental car will all eat into your trip, so think twice when deciding how to get to your destination.

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07Exchanging currency upon arrival

Woman using an ATM in the city. anandaBGD / Getty Images

If you're traveling to another country and you need to exchange your money for another currency, you should carefully consider when and how you go about it. A lot of travelers wait until they get to the airport, but you're bound to end up paying some of the highest fees and getting some of the worst exchange rates out there if you do so. Consider a local ATM when you get to your destination or, better yet, forgo major cash conversion and stick with a credit card that doesn't have foreign transaction fees. Using a credit card also means extra travel protection, so read the fine print to understand the benefits your card offers.

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08Choosing overpriced accommodations

Woman in robe opening doors to her hotel room balcony. Ascent/PKS Media Inc. / Getty Images

Everyone wants to vacation in style, but do you really need to pay double for a hotel room with a view when you plan to spend the majority of your trip out-and-about? Travelers each value different things, but the more full your itinerary is (i.e., the less time you plan to spend inside), the more you should consider cutting back on the extravagance of your accommodations to give you more money for what matters.

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09Treating yourself too often

Women lounging in recliners at the spa. wundervisuals / Getty Images

We're all guilty of getting into the vacation mindset and thinking we deserve to treat ourselves this, that, and all of those. At the very least, compare prices. Your resort spa is bound to cost more than a spa a few blocks away, and if you're having the masseuse come into your room, that's likely an extra fee. Before you leave, decide how much you're willing to spend on unplanned treats for yourself throughout the trip and stick to that budget to avoid going overboard. It will also help you think twice about what you do treat yourself to, ensuring it's really something you want.

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10Missing out on rewards

Pacific Islander surfers carrying surfboards on rock wall Adam Hester / Getty Images

Wasting money on vacation doesn't always make you feel guilty because sometimes the dollars sneak right by you. One example of how you can "waste" your vacation fund without even knowing it is foregoing travel rewards. For example, if you're booking a flight, you should always create a free account to collect miles for your trip. If you have a travel rewards credit card, paying for your flight using that card can get you even more miles or points to redeem later. Using a good travel credit card throughout your trip can also be wise; just make sure you pay it in full because the interest charged for carrying a balance will definitely offset any miles or points you earn.

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