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9 Times You’ll Regret Being Cheap When You Travel

Some parts of travel are worth the splurge. Although saving a little cash feels good when you first book that rock-bottom-price plane ticket, that pre-dawn moment when your alarm rings for that 6:00 a.m. flight might make you regret being cheap.

You May Regret Being Cheap While Traveling

A cheap flight, inconveniently located hotel, or minuscule rental car may save you money, but they’ll likely still cost you plenty of regret and inconvenience. Want to avoid feeling the regret of being cheap when you travel? Then avoid these mistakes:

Waiting for the Shuttle to an Off-Airport Rental Car

You just survived a long flight and are ready to get to your final destination. Too bad you booked with a shady rental car company that’s located in an industrial area far from the airport. Now, instead of hopping in a car and driving off, you’re trekking to some forgotten corner of a far-off terminal and waiting for a rental car shuttle bus that may or may not come.

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Getting up Before Dawn for an Early Flight

Hovering over the “book” button, you think to yourself, “I’m saving $50! I’m so frugal! I get up early for work every day, a 6:00 a.m. flight won’t be that bad!” Until the night before your flight when you’re calculating just how early you have to wake up to be at the airport in time … and realizing that you’re going to be spending the first day of your vacation sleep-deprived. Plus, if you have to be up before public transit is running, you may end up spending what you saved on the flight to take a taxi to the airport.

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Lying Awake at Night Listening to Your Hostel Roommates Snore

How bad can a 20-bed room in a hostel be? After all, you’ll only be there to sleep, so why bother spending more for a private room? If one of those 20 beds is booked by a loud snorer, a sleep-talker, or someone waking up early for a flight, pretty bad—and will defeat you being in there to sleep, since you won’t get any.

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Settling Into the Middle Seat in the Back of the Plane

After spending too many hundreds of dollars on a bare-bones economy ticket, it can be hard to persuade yourself to give another penny to an airline. You’ll stuff everything into a small carry-on and be willing to board last … but when you settle into the non-reclining middle seat next to the bathroom, you will be cursing your past self for being cheap and not paying the fee to select your seat.

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When Your Tiny Rental Car Might Not Make It

The economy rental car option seemed like a fine idea when you were looking at it on the website and trying to cut costs, but when your budget vehicle turns out to be comically toy sized (especially next to those semi trucks whizzing past you on the highway), you might start to have some regrets about being cheap. See also: that heart-stopping moment when you wonder if your car is actually going to make it up a hill/down that dirt road, or if you’re going to figure out how roadside service works in a foreign destination.

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Dragging Your Suitcase on Public Transit

Everyone on this packed train hates me, you’ll realize as you try to squeeze your way on with your suitcase while accidentally whacking a few commuters with your backpack. Dragging your luggage up and down the stairs, through crowds, and off the train or bus, you’ll rue being cheap and not just splurging on a taxi. Although, when you think of just how much more the fare is, it might just seem worth it.

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Stressing Over Your Flight Connection

When you’re on the first leg of a plane journey with a tight connection, every minute your plane doesn’t board, or sits on the tarmac without taking off, feels like an eternity—the flight with the 50-minute layover was the cheapest option, but does that cost savings matter if you miss it?

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Waiting in Line to Buy a Ticket Instead of Paying the Booking Fee

This ticket site wants how much to book admission in advance? I’ll just wait and buy it at the window, you think … until you arrive at the attraction and discover everything is sold out, or that the line is hours long. Is being cheap worth wasting your precious vacation time standing in line? If it’s a Ticketmaster-esque ridiculous fee, it can be a tough decision.

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When You Reach Hour Five on the Slow Ferry or Train

The slow ferry/bus/train won’t be that much worse than the express, you think. Imagine all the scenery I’ll see. That sounds like a great, cost-saving measure until you’re trapped on an excruciatingly slow form of transport, experiencing fatigue and pain from sitting for so long, and thinking of everything you’re missing by not arriving sooner.

What to Pack on Your Next Trip

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Caroline Morse Teel knows all of these feelings that come from being cheap in an effort to expand her travel budget. Follow Caroline on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline to see her journeys around the world.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

By Caroline Morse Teel

Unfortunately for her bank account, Principal Editor Caroline Morse Teel is powerless to resist a good flight deal. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline.

Caroline joined Boston-based SmarterTravel in 2011 after living in Ireland, London, and Manhattan. She's traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes, and bungeed off bridges in the pursuit of a good story. She loves exploring off-the-beaten path destinations, anything outdoorsy, and all things adventure.

Her stories have also appeared online at USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Boston.com, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog, and others.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "Earplugs. A good pair has saved my sleep and sanity many times!"

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro.

Travel Motto: "Don't be boring."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle (when the first class private suite isn't available)."

E-mail her at cmorse@smartertravel.com.

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