This is based on personal experience and that of others.
If you are on vacation abroad and staying in a hotel, you might want to avoid the mini bar. Mini Bars are those small fridges decorated with drinks, chocolates and many other niceties that make it convenient enough for you to spend. The problem with Mini Bars are that they cost almost twice what is obtainable if you just go to the hotel bar or restaurant to purchase the same items. You should curtail the use of mini bars at all cost when you are traveling with children. Kids often think it’s just like their fridge at home.
On Demand TV
Some hotels abroad charge you for watching some channels and these can be annoying especially if you didn’t know. You just follow prompts and before you know it your room is charged. It happened to me once and I was livid when I realised what a mistake I had made. You should avoid them too.
Taxis abroad mostly charge you per mileage. A cunning taxi driver can decide to take a longer route if he feels you are a novice which results in a higher cost. To avoid this, you can ask friends or hotel reception, or even use a GPS map to estimate how many miles it should take you to get to your destination and the possible cost. That way, you can challenge the taxi driver once he seems to be taking you off course.
Getting late for breakfast
Most hotels rates include bed and breakfast as such you do not get to pay for breakfast. However, there is a caveat. Breakfast is served within a stipulated time frame and covers just one person or two depending on the number of beds you paid for. If you are late for breakfast, you get to pay which can be quite annoying. If you wake up late in the morning and decide to call up room service, then be ready to cough out some good money which you otherwise could have avoided. I hate to incur this cost except I am not hungry.
When you travel abroad, especially for the first time you should remember you pay about ten times the cost of making calls if you were in Nigeria and also pay for calls that you receive. Text messages are also about ten times what it cost. Data roaming is another annoying one and is even more expensive. The easiest way to avoid telephone roaming is to get a new Sim Card when you get to your destination. For data roaming you can go to the settings of your phone and simply switch it off.
And also, the popular Blackberry Internet Service does not work abroad except you subscribe afresh when you get there. It can be cheaper than what is obtainable back home but you have to look at it in the context of how long you are out on vacation. If you are staying for less than two weeks then it’s probably no worth it in my opinion.
A few years ago I argued with a friend about buying stuff at the airport since I thought it was cheaper. He opined it wasn’t and we decided to run a test. While experience shows that some things you buy at the airport may be cheaper than they are in town it doesn’t apply to every item. In fact, they are pretty much expensive when compared to discount shops or outlet malls (which I talked about in my last article). Don’t ever think you are getting a bargain when you buy things at the airport.
The popular VAT returns are claims you can get at the airport whenever you are charged VAT for items purchased in town. VAT is not charged in the US and some other countries but very common in the UK and South Africa. The problem with VAT returns are that, you often don’t get them when you get to the airport late. I once had a six hundred rand vat returns which I could not claim because I got to the airport late. Those queues are long and if you are late you might not get your money except off course you are a frequent traveler. The cheques they issue also have expiry dates.
This is another very avoidable cost. Our ATM cards these days work abroad and can be used in most ATM machines abroad. However, you must avoid the ATM machines owned by non-banking issuers you find in some public places or shops because of their high fees. They can charge as much as N500 per withdrawal.
Every holiday traveler from Nigeria has probably incurred this at some point in time. Extra Luggage attracts fees if you are determined to travel with the bags and they can be quite expensive too. The best way to avoid them is to carry items that weigh less. Make sure you check your baggage allowance before getting to the airport.
Hiring a Nanny or a house help abroad is very expensive. To avoid this most people prefer to travel with their own Nannies from Nigeria. An alternative could be to share the cost with friends and family assuming you travel with them. Another option could be to use Nigerians abroad who are looking for part time jobs and are willing to take less. If you are not willing to spend a dime then the best guess is to do the job yourself. Some parents are very domestic at this and will interchange chores such as changing diapers, feeding and bathing the baby etc. This sort of partnership can help save a lot of cost.