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incidental expenses whilst travelling

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Travelling can be hard work. I got back from the Munich Oktoberfest on Monday in an epic 12 hours, (including an hour at work picking up and sorting out my replacement laptop).

One of the biggest problems with extended journeys, especially on the way home is that it’s often slightly boring, and you end up spending money for something to do. I didn’t do too badly, I picked up some sweets for work at the airport, where I also had a slice of cake and a Sprite. Then on possibly the most circuitous route from Heathrow to my house, I bought a cookie at one of the places I had to change.

I wasn’t really being good, I was just too tired, otherwise I might have bought a magazine or a book to read, plus ideally I’d have had a chance to get some actual lunch (Lufthansa gave out a snack, but I don’t like salami sandwiches - fussy I know).

With flights, now that you can’t bring your own drinks in, I just put up with the fact that I’m going to buy an overpriced coke or something there. I did hear a pretty cool suggestion of taking in a collapsible water bottle and filling that up, although I don’t know if it’s against the rules.

Most of my fun travel is actually by train in any case so I pick up a bottle of something sweet on the way, and some food if needed. It’s generally cheaper to buy neither in the station nor on the train. I’m never sure what to do about entertaining myself on a trip which is why there have been many emergency magazine and book purchases. I guess a newspaper would work out cheaper.

How do you cope with incidental expenses whilst travelling? Do you just suck them up? Go without? Or any other great ideas?

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12 comments for “incidental expenses whilst travelling”

  1. I must admit that I am not frugal on the occasions that I travel. I suck it up and buy the expensive airport food and drinks. I do take reading material with me, so I don’t have to buy magazines. I don’t usually buy food or drinks on airplanes though.

    Posted by Kristen | September 30, 2008, 1:55 pm
  2. Unfortunately one of my greatest unexpected expenses is grabbing a pint at the pub. When traveling I am always rushed to wait. So not being occupied can be expensive.

    Posted by Jerime | September 30, 2008, 1:55 pm
  3. I usually just budget in airport or train station spending into the trip budget, as I know I’m always going to buy something. Especially duty-free shopping. I sort of lose my mind when I see all the shiny, sparkly things in the duty-free section.

    Posted by FruGal | September 30, 2008, 2:36 pm
  4. To answer your question yes you can bring an empty bottle through the security line and fill it up after you pass through. Security doesn’t have a problem with the bottle its the liquid inside. I have a metal water bottle I bring with me and have never been questioned about it. I also bring sncaks but make sure it is not something “liquidy” I got my Peanut Butter taken at Heathrow but not my water bottle.

    Posted by Jane | September 30, 2008, 4:10 pm
  5. We just got back from a mediterranean cruise, and like you said the expenses from sheer boredom while waiting at the airport certainly do add up. We bought magazines, candy and liquid refreshment while waiting for flights to and from our destinations. It was tempered a bit by the fact that we brought empty water bottles as discussed, and filled them up once we got past security. We also brought some of our own snacks which cut down on some of the costs.

    In the end I think you just have to expect to have some of those costs when you travel, and budget accordingly.

    Posted by Pete | September 30, 2008, 5:41 pm
  6. we always, always, always pack our own food when we travel, as here in the states they don’t give out food on most airlines anymore and we have dietary restrictions (vegan) that mean that food is difficult to come by in airports. Plus, it’s overpriced , low quality, and not very nutritious.

    I usually pack some sandwiches- I make them up the night before we travel- and baggies of things like pretzels, carrot sticks, etc. I tuck them into my carry on bag or sometimes we actually bring a temperature - regulating lunchbox as one of our carry-ons. It sounds ridiculous, but when we went to hawai’i we missed some connections and it took us 24 hours to get there. Having pre-made food on hand turned out to be a total lifesaver!

    You can just bring an empty plastic water bottle with you through the airport security too. We do. They won’t make you throw it away if it is empty.

    On really long flights with lots of connections for vacations, though, we sometimes indulge a little in drinks. A waste of money, but we get a little tipsy and vacation-y feeling :)

    Posted by neimanmarxist | September 30, 2008, 5:56 pm
  7. oh! for fun things to do that are frugal, bring the crossword from your morning paper! sometimes we save up hard crosswords(fridays and saturdays) a few weeks before we travel so we have lots to do while waiting at the gate . I love crosswords :) and whatever book you have checked out of the library at the time. Also people often just ditch their papers/mags in cafes. I am not above picking them up and carting them off for my own reading pleasure. .

    Posted by neimanmarxist | September 30, 2008, 5:59 pm
  8. I recently learned that if you are diabetic, you are allowed to carry water and food as long as you have documentation from a doctor.

    I’ve flown about 4 times since then (and not had documentation) and they’ve let me through with the water after seeing my needles and insulin.

    What is really interesting is that they never seem interested in the needles - it is my 12 oz bottle of water that gets me flagged!

    With two kids and myself, just buying water can easily run $10, so I’m thrilled with this discovery.

    I wonder if other illnesses qualify for the water exemption also?

    Posted by Laurie | September 30, 2008, 9:26 pm
  9. I bring a book or listen to the ipod, and eat beforehand. I might get just a drink or snack in the airport so I don’t have too many incidentals while traveling.

    Posted by John | September 30, 2008, 11:48 pm
  10. I’ve given up on food in airports. It’s all gross and, as neimanmarxist said, hardly anything is served on board anymore. I try to make it fun by packing as delicious a picnic as I can think of. We usually get some admiring glances from fellow passengers. I’ve been known to bring tomato salad, eggplant dip, pita sandwiches, fresh strawberries. I’ve never had a problem from security.

    Posted by Mydailydollars | October 1, 2008, 1:03 pm
  11. I thought of you this weekend as I saw an Oktoberfest t-shirt.

    Re unexpected expenses, I try to keep an extra bag of change ready & waiting!

    Posted by Frugal Trenches | October 1, 2008, 6:10 pm
  12. @Mydailydollars:
    You’re making me jealous just thinking about that food. I pity your poor fellow passengers who have to watch longingly as you eat it.

    @Frugal Notes:
    Yep, I keep extra change, and make sure that I have a little of my holiday money left at the end of the trip as well.

    Posted by plonkee | October 1, 2008, 8:18 pm

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