When we picked up our rental car in Dublin we already knew we'd be spending a lot of money for the privilege of driving around for three weeks: the bill was over €1,000 and the cheapest fuel we've found was €1.48 a litre. What we didn't expect was that the staff member behind the counter would cost us extra money because he didn't listen. We use a special reloadable debit card while travelling that allows us to spend money in the local currencies. This saves thousands of dollars in conversion fees over the course of a long trip.
When asked to provide a credit card for payment we handed over the debit card. The staff member initially refused the card, saying that he couldn't take payment with those types of cards. We discussed the reason and learned that he needed to also take a pre-authorization on a card in case of an accident. So we presented our regular credit card for the pre-authorization and asked that the charge for the use of the vehicle go on the debit card. This was accompanied by a clear explanation of why we wanted to use the debit card for payment: it's cheaper for us because we can pay in euros instead of Australian dollars. The charge, we emphasized, should be made in euros.
Did he listen? No. When we checked our online statement a few days later we found that we'd been charged in Australian dollars, wiping out our careful planning and care to avoid well over a hundred dollars in currency conversion fees. Poor customer service cost us what we consider to be a decent amount of money. It's difficult to not become angry when things like this happen. But this year we've found that money gets wasted all the time when travelling. It just comes with the territory.
What else cost us big time this year? Escaping bad hostel situations by moving to a hotel, changing our minds about what destinations we would fly to instead of taking the bus (we could have had these included in our round-the-world ticket), money spent on activities that we didn't enjoy, over priced restaurant food, paying for things when we didn't have to (parking, tips)...this list goes on and on. When we're travelling we often come up against situations that cost more than they would if we weren't in a foreign country. Now that we're in Europe we have to be extra careful with money - everything is dear here.
My question for you fellow travellers is: do things like this happen to you too? How do you feel about it? What are your tricks for avoiding holes in your wallet? We try to stay flexible and not worry too much about cash matters because negative thinking can really put a damper on our enjoyment of travel. But we can't help being annoyed when we waste precious money needlessly.
How do you guard against wasting money on the road? In what ways have your careful plans to save been foiled?