How to avoid the most common travel rip-offs

Avoid getting stung by excess charges when you travel, from airport scams and tax fees to car hire and roaming charges.

Going away on holiday should be relaxing and a way to spend quality time with family and friends.

But don’t let daydreams of blue skies and white sandy beaches cloud your judgement.

All too often, money worries get in the way thanks to frustratingly avoidable costs that can begin before you’ve even landed at your destination.

To help you stay ahead of the game, we’ve put together a guide of some of the common European travel rip-offs below.

Travel money

Don’t leave changing your money into foreign currency until you’re at the airport. The chances are you won’t be exchanging at the best rate, which means you’re losing out on money before you’ve even boarded your flight. Our advice is to get this sorted in advance, either online or at a travel exchange provider on the high street.

Using cards abroad

If you plan to use a prepaid card or credit card abroad, the fees it charges can make a big difference. Do your research before setting off on holiday to find out how much it will cost you to withdraw cash from an overseas ATM, should you need it for emergencies.

If this is likely to set you back a nasty amount, consider ordering a card from the likes of Monzo and Starling for free cash withdrawals overseas. You can compare the best challenger banks on the market in this handy guide.

Boarding cards

It’s worth doing a last-minute check before you leave the house to make sure you’ve got your boarding card, too. If you forget to print it or download it to your phone, your airline could make you pay for the privilege of printing a copy for you… ouch!


You could also get stung if your luggage exceeds the allowance, which often results in a hefty fee. It’s always a good idea to get yourself a mini luggage scale to weigh your bag before you set off for the airport to avoid any nasty surprises.

Travel insurance

Everyone has travel insurance, right? Wrong.

You might think this is an unnecessary expense when all you’ll be doing is lying horizontal on a sun lounger, but should the worst happen, getting the right level of travel insurance can cover you against medical costs, theft, loss of your valuables, cancellations, delays and most other things that could go wrong on holiday.

Local tax

You may be required to pay a local tax on arrival, especially if you are staying in a hotel. To avoid this nasty surprise, plan ahead and ensure you’ve budgeted enough for this expense.

Car hire and transport

Other unexpected costs include car hire excess charges and using local taxis. Whatever services you plan to be using abroad, make sure you do your research beforehand and read the small print.

Roaming charges

Although mobile networks have been forced to cut the cost of making calls, sending texts and using data abroad, roaming charges can still be a major holiday expense if you’re not careful.

Even just checking your emails and Facebook accounts on holiday may cost more than you think, whether that’s because of data roaming charges or excess fees for Wi-Fi use in hotels.

Top tips for keeping mobile costs down

  • Set yourself a daily usage limit.
  • Call your mobile provider to see if bolt-on packages could save you money abroad.
  • Find out how much hotels, cafés and bars charge for Wi-Fi before you connect.
  • Switch data roaming off and turn your phone to flight mode when you can to avoid being charged for incoming calls.


What could be worse than these hefty fees you might think? Well, the danger of street crime and theft can be quite distressing, especially if you’re exploring new surroundings.

To avoid pickpocketing whilst travelling in Europe, keep your valuables locked in a safe when you leave your hotel for the day. Or if you prefer to keep them on your person, invest in a bum bag.

5 top tips for cutting costs abroad

  • Phone your hotel before you travel to ask how much a safe deposit box and other extras cost.
  • Find out how much tourist tax is before you book.
  • Check Trip Advisor reviews to find out about your hotel’s additional costs.
  • Keep your valuables out of sight and secured when out and about.
  • Don’t forget hire car excess insurance if you’ll be hiring a vehicle.


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