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A common oversight many of you make when budgeting for your upcoming trips are failing to account for pre-travel expenses. Almost every travel budget-related article I read online fails to mention pre-trip costs that aren’t flights. We all know plane tickets are needed. Yes, it’s pre-trip expenses but not unexpected.

Depending on the type of trip, this could be very big or very small. What I have found from personal experience, is that no matter the trip, I am usually faced with some unexpected costs whether it’s buying travel-sized toiletries, clothing or medication. 

Yes, most of the time I am just wanting some fresh clothes for my videos/photos so it’s not a necessity, but sometimes I really do need these (i.e. weatherproof shoes for extreme cold weather, thermals, a bathing suit). 


I am jumping out of my seat right now. I am so excited to finally be launching my Cent$ of Adventure series. A series that guides you through how to save before and during your travels. I am very passionate about personal finance. I have made many mistakes, but I have also learned a significant amount from them. The day I self-funded a summer-long trip around Europe was the day I realized the power of saving and where it could take me. 

I created a monster and have since been a HUGE nerd when it comes to building a travel fund that brings me to exciting places without debt, and in some cases, without spending any money. I’m talking about FREE travel. 

We get so wrapped up in the dreamy places we want to see but how many of you are sitting down and looking at the numbers? Do you even know how to build a travel fund, find rewards credit cards that will literally give you free travel when used intentionally and responsibly, or how to stretch your travel dollars to get the most out of your trips? 

If not, then this series is for you. I will be releasing multiple blogs solely focused on helping you afford to travel. 

For even more tips and exclusive videos be sure to subscribe to the Cent$ of Adventure email series. It’s totally free and connects you with a group of people looking to make the most of their travel funds too. 

** Back to the regularly scheduled program **

Psst. . . Looking for more tips on how to save for travel? Check out my Cent$ of Adventure series.

Types of pre-Travel expenses

I do not consider flights to be part of pre-travel expenses. I go back and forth with including it separately or part of transportation.

Most of the time I include flights as its own category and only the main flight to and from home. If I’m flying between counties in Europe on one single trip, I categorize those flights as transportation. 

I won’t get too much in-depth on travel budgets in this post as far as categorizing goes. More on travel budget breakdown to come in a later post but very soon.


Your luggage is an investment meant to withstand all the roughness for many trips to come. You do not want to cheap out on your luggage unless you want to replace it often, which in that case will cost you more in the long run than if you bought a quality piece from the beginning. Your luggage is the foundation of everything you are bringing with you so make sure it’s a good one.

Below are four different types of luggage I recommend.

You don’t need them all but depending on your personal preference you might like one over the other. 

  • Hardshell Carry-On Fortis Pro Spinner from Ebags. This suitcase was carefully thought out which I greatly appreciate. It has built-in packing cubes with a compression strap to give you more space, a USB port, and 1.5″ expandable zipper. It is a hardshell meant to withstand the beating it takes throughout your journey and comes in a variety of colors.
    The only downside to hardshell suitcases is the weight, but I can say that many manufacturers have taken that into consideration over the years and are making them lighter.
  • Backpack Duffels are great for keeping the luggage itself lightweight and for travelers going to places without proper sidewalks. When you are selecting a backpack you need to be mindful of your body.
    Is this backpack as tall you? As a short girl that is a serious question. You want to be able to move freely even with a backpack on.
    You also want to look for a bag that has comfort straps and front buckle to ease the pressure on your shoulders and hips. I’m telling you those make all the difference.
  • Weekender bags for short trips. I want it to be able to fit everything I need to reduce the number of things in my hand. I love organization so this weekender bag from TUMI is amazing. I will say it’s incredibly expensive but this bag will last you forever. I love the separate shoe compartment the most and back slit that slides on your carry-on luggage.
  • Large checked roller for long trips or when you need more space. I don’t use my oversized luggage all that often but it’s still nice to have for when you really need it. I used it over Christmas when I needed to bring all my Christmas presents to and from home. I used it when I moved to Prague. I even used it on a road trip. It was easier to pack for two in one large suitcase.

Security expenses

You will want to keep your valuable safe at all times.

Locks and theft-proof bags are common things you will want to buy in order to keep your valuables safe at all times. 



Travel Documents

As I mentioned, some of these pre-trip expenses can get crazy from purchasing a passport, getting a visa, and medicine and vaccines. 

Many countries require you to have a valid passport for at least 6 months from your return date, which means if your passport is expiring before then (even if your trip is a month) you will need to renew it. 

Medicine & Vaccinations

Before my trip to Asia, I had to update my shots and visit my primary doctor. Co-pays were involved and I had to do it twice. That was $60 plus the cost of the z-pack and motion sickness patches.

My flu and MMR shots were considered preventative so I didn’t have to pay, but not all insurers are the same.

If you don’t have insurance the cost of these goes up even more.

There are travel vaccination centers that will carry many of the uncommon vaccines like but charge a hefty price.

Depending on where you are going (i.e. Africa) and how safe you want to be, these shots can run you hundreds of dollars.

However, that is nothing compared to the medical expenses you will be faced with should something serious happen like getting rabies from a monkey.

Something to be mindful of. 

See what is really needed and shop around. Most likely no two places will be the same price.

You can also consult with your Primary Care doctor. Let them know where you are going and what the best way to go about staying healthy is.

Get a head start and visit the to see what vaccines you need for your destination. Let this be a starting point.

unexpected travel expenses

Travel Insurance

There was a time in my life I traveled without insurance and looking back I was both incredibly lucky that nothing went wrong and incredibly stupid.

Now I always travel with insurance outside of my country.

My health insurance covers emergencies within the United States, so if I need medical assistance domestically I am covered but face paying out-of-network expenses.

Again, you will always want to look at your specific plan and make the necessary calls to learn what’s covered and what’s not. 

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to travel insurance I recommend Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) or World Nomads.

BCBS is very affordable with great medical coverage but in my experience, not the best for covering your personal property.

On the other hand, World Nomads had less medical coverage but covered more personal property. 

Just ask yourself what is most important to you?

I typically travel with expensive equipment so I like to make sure that coverage is higher. Every case is different though.

Clothing & Gear

This can be argued either way but some things are a necessity. It’s a no-brainer if you’re going to Iceland you will need a proper jacket.

While many of you will recognize these needs, you will most likely underestimate how much it will cost. 

Whatever the type of trip it is, if it’s not something you plan to use multiple times, I would look into buying used. 

Travel Day Expenses

These expenses are always overlooked and they get expensive. Getting snacks or $5 water at the airport, lunch during your layover – are you accounting for these expenses in your travel budget. 

So how do you reduce the inevitable Pre-Travel Expenses? 

How to reduce pre-travel expenses

Use Online Discount Tools

I have found Wikibuy to be a good tool that helps you quickly find discount codes to apply to online purchases. I shop on Amazon all the time and Wikibuy helps me find relevant codes to try at checkout. They will also notify you if another retailer has it for cheaper.

Wikibuy has a Chrome extension you can use. It’s super simple to find deals. I search what I’m looking for and see all at once where the deals are. It limits my search time and makes me happy knowing I’m finding the best deal. Again, they have tons of retailers including Amazon. I can easily get overwhelmed by searching on Amazon alone. Wikibuy helps reduce that. 


Ask yourself if you really need it?

It doesn’t make sense to go buy a new piece of luggage just because it has a USB port when I have a durable, less pretty one at home. I don’t need the big floppy hat for my beach vacay just because I want to look good on Instagram. These are toxic struggles I constantly have to remind myself that don’t add value to the travel experience. So when I get the urge I always ask, is this something I really need right now and how many uses will I get out of it. 


Can you borrow it?

Ask around and see if people have things that you could borrow. My sister is my go-to for borrowing fashionable pieces. Rather than buying new outfits for every trip, I raid her closet. She also has a ton of travel-sized goodies she gets from her Birchbox so I usually grab a few of her mini leave-in conditioners. Thanks sis! I’ve also borrowed luggage, locks and luggage straps from my boyfriend’s parent’s for a long duration trip. This is a great way to cut a lot of costs.  


Check Government Websites

Always check the government website of the country you are traveling to and see what their passport and visa policies are before making any purchases.


Spread Your Purchases Out

This won’t necessarily help you with reducing pre-travel expenses but it can help you soften the blow of buying everything at once.

This is where planning becomes very important. The earlier you start planning the more time you have you save and spread out these purchases rather than all at once. 

By having more time you are also more likely to catch deals which actually does reduce travel expenses. 

In the next post, I’m going to be sharing exactly how to crunch numbers and set-up your travel fund. Keep this post handy as I will be referencing it. Just remember that you are one step closer to your dream vacation. Being mindful of all the hidden expenses is going to get you there even faster. Please leave a comment if you have any questions I did not answer in this post. I’ll see you in a few days. 

Psst. . . Looking for more tips on how to save for travel? Check out my Cent$ of Adventure series.

Do you prefer traveling to lesser-known places? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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