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The Six Things WORTH Spending Extra Money On When Travelling

by Meg · 31 comments

Traveling is one big test on your will power.  There is so much you want to do and see.  And whether you are on a tight budget or not, it is easy to stress out about your wallet on your adventures.

I am here to tell you that stressing out is not the right mentality to have on the road.  Worrying about what to spend (and what not to spend) your money on shouldn’t bog you down. Traveling is all about relaxing and having fun!

Before you leave for your trip, you should sit down and map out what amenities/adventures/items are worth splurging on… and which ones might be worth ignoring so as to minimize the damage to your travel fund.

Wine Tasting in Umbria Italy

Wine tasting in Italy

To help you with this process, I have taken the liberty to share with you the top six things that Tony and I don’t mind spending some extra cash on when we travel:

Extra Leg Room On A Long Flight

Comfortable Travel

A happy gal with extra legroom!

This may not be necessary for everyone, but my Andre The Giant husband is always cramped on long flights.  If you are over 5’10’’, this extra $30 (or so) dollars for long flights might be a wise investment.

A Private Room In A Hostel

Once again, this may not be necessary for everyone, but it is certainly nice to have your privacy if you are a traveling couple.

With a private room, you also get the added security of being able to lock your belongings in your room when you leave the hostel to explore a city.  Some private rooms are MUCH pricier then squatting in a shared dorm, so just use your best judgment on this one.

If it’s less than $10 per person extra for a private room, Tony and are immediately willing to fork out the extra cash… But beyond that is a little more of a grey area.

A Cabin On An Overnight Ferry

Overnight Ferry Croatia to Italy

Contrary to how snuggley I look in this above picture, this was NOT what I would call a good night’s sleep.

Tony and I took an overnight ferry from Italy to Croatia in June and decided to purchase “standing room only” tickets, instead of paying for a private cabin.  Long story short, after hours of searching every dark corner of the ship, my gentleman-of-a-husband slept on the cold cement floor, while I squeezed onto this passenger bench.

Not an ideal situation.  Next time, we are getting the cabin… Enough said!

A Reclining Seat On An Overnight Bus Ride

Cama Bus South America Overnight Bus

In South America, we traveled on many overnight buses.  You can pay for a “Semi Cama” seat, which is basically your standard coach bus seat, or you can pay a few extra pesos for a “Cama” seat, which reclines into a bed.

Trust me. You are going to want the bed option.

Overnight bus rides are miserable on their own.  Why add to the turmoil with a seat that only reclines 2 inches?

Miscellaneous Treats

Chocolate Museum in Cusco Peru

Traveling the world is wearing and can sometimes be stressful.  So, it is nice to sometimes go back to your roots and indulge in a habit or treat of yours from home that that comforts you.

Tony and I love having a little dessert of dark chocolate each night when we are on the road.  This was a nightly habit of ours back in the states and was something we were willing to pay an extra $2 for each day on the road to keep us happy.

Your Personal “Once In A Lifetime Experience”

Hiking Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Peru

We ALL have them. 

Whether it’s your dream to hike Machu Picchu, sky dive in the Swiss Alps, scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, or spend an evening with a ladyboy in Bangkok (just wanted to check to see if you’re still paying attention), it’s important to set aside some cash specifically for this experience.

When traveling long-term and on a budget, it is all about conscious spending.  If you are sensible with your budget on a day-to-day basis, then it is okay to splurge every now and then on activities that you are deeply passionate about….

Go ahead and TREAT YOURSELF!

Your turn: What are some things that you think are worth spending extra money on during your travels? Please share below in the Comments section!

About Meg
Exhausted from traveling every week as a Business Management Consultant early in my career, I took a year off in 2012 to travel at my own pace. I am a high-energy girl that loves being active, eating food, drinking wine, and exploring the world with my partner-in-crime (and husband), Tony! I now reside in Portland, Oregon and continue to write about travel, food, wine, and the awesome adventures we have in the Pacific NW!

Christina October 27, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Definitely worth it for our own room, we found. Basically anything to get a good night’s sleep, as being exhausted the next day makes you SO unmotivated to do anything!

Meg October 28, 2012 at 4:33 am

Agree! I have become such a “private room” snob. I also have the tiniest bladder and wake up like 6 times a night to pee, so I always feel bad in dorm rooms waking others up – especially if it’s a bunking situation! And if I get a crappy night’s sleep, then it’s just Tony dealing with my wrath the next day!

Caroline @ Traveling 9 to 5 October 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Yes, Yes, and Yes! Agree on all of the above – the stress savings on most of those are worth the extra cash!

Meg October 28, 2012 at 4:35 am

We tried to cut a lot of corners in our first few months of traveling, but now that we have loosened up a little on those little luxuries, we are soooo much more comfortable and content in our travels!

Dave October 28, 2012 at 6:02 am

Funny, staying in our first hostel tonight (after 90 days of travel, mostly couchsurfing) – private room all the way! I think it was like an extra $2…

Meg October 28, 2012 at 6:09 am

yeah definitely worth it in that case! I don’t think I could ever go back to a shared dorm… I am too light of a sleeper!

Trish October 28, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Sounds like you guys did a similar trip to the one my husband and I are doing now. My addition to this list…a well made pair of flip flops. You are in them all the time and they can make or break your ability to want to be on your feet. The cheap ones that dig into your feet don’t cut it once you have to walk a few miles! :)

Meg October 29, 2012 at 6:33 am

Great call Trish! I am in my flip flops all the time. I brought my Rainbows from home and they have been the best for long walks and travel days. I also have a pair of Havaianas that are great for bumming around in. Thanks for commenting on our site and safe travels!

Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) October 29, 2012 at 7:07 pm

How interesting that most of your “splurges” involve sleeping! I totally understand, however, since I get really cranky if I can’t get a good night’s sleep and I learned the mistake of not getting proper sleeping accommodations on an overnight train (thought it would be fine to just have a seat on an overnight train from Vienna to Florence rather than paying the extra money for a sleeping cabin… HUGE mistake!).

I think for us one of the things we splurge on and have generally found worthwhile is food! I know many people scrape by on PBJ sandwiches and whatnot, but we did not come all the way to Asia to eat cereal, you know? We’re going to eat local food rather than always self-catering because for us, food is a huge reason for why we travel!

Meg October 30, 2012 at 2:09 am

Getting sleep arrangements on overnight trains and ferries are a must! We learned the hard way from the overnight ferry from Italy to Croatia! Food plays a HUGE role in our travels too. We are very adventurous and also like to eat like locals… And it isn’t really a splurge because the local dishes are often WAY cheaper than buying western food!

Amanda October 29, 2012 at 8:32 pm

I agree with you on all of these! Comfort and not being completely stressed out is ALWAYS worth a few extra dollars in my opinion.

And, like you guys, I’m also always willing to shell out extra for those once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences! They’ve always been worth it.

Meg October 30, 2012 at 2:11 am

Thanks Amanda! It took us a few months to realize that it wasn’t worth the stress to save a few extra dollars, but we have finally gotten into a good groove on the road. And yes, once in a lifetime travel experiences are a must!

Jacqueline October 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm

I couldn’t agree more on the above. I traveled for sometime across Europe and splurged on a 2 day bike ride through Tuscany. Worth every penny!

Meg October 31, 2012 at 1:17 am

Wow a bike ride through Tuscany sounds amazing. We also did a bike ride through wine country in Argentina and had a blast… gotta treat yourself every now and then :-)

Mark Wiens November 3, 2012 at 5:32 am

The private room, especially in Asia, is really worth it as a private room in a guest house costs almost the same as 2 dorm beds. When I was younger I’d go as cheap as possible, but now I appreciate more privacy (and it helps to get more work done too).

Meg November 3, 2012 at 11:54 pm

It’s so cheap there it makes so much sense to pay the $2 usd extra for privacy and comfort… And being able to get work done in your own room is so helpful. Great tip Mark!

Tommy (via Discover Book Travel) November 3, 2012 at 10:49 pm

Hi Meg,

Nice article.
Common sense but true. :)

How about a good travel guidebook and map that costs around 20 bucks?
Might be well worth spending on it compared to the total cost of the entire trip.


Meg November 3, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Great tip Tommy and thanks for sharing!

Izy Berry - The Wrong Way Home November 4, 2012 at 2:51 pm

When I buy plane tickets I choose to pay a bit extra for a flight that is during the day, instead of going for a very cheap one that leaves at some ridiculous early or very late hour. I’m not a fan of sleeping in airports…

Meg November 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Great tip Izy! We just took an 11:30PM flight and I can now see why the extra $$ might be worth it!

Pal November 8, 2012 at 10:17 pm

Nice summary Meg. A private room is an absolute must for us, I think that at the few occasions we ended up in a dorm I was so stressed out that I started to snore… Well, I might exaggerate here a bit, but still… Private room it is.

Also, I might like to add that sometimes going for the cheap trips to save a few bucks might cost more at the end. It’s freshly on my mind, recently on our way to the Angel Falls the canoe we were in sank in the rapids. It might have been just bad luck, but we had a few other so-so experiences when we opted for paying less, so sometimes it is worth turning away from the cheapest options around.

Btw, you guys seem to eat a lot of candy ;-).

Nice coming across your blog, safe travels.

Meg November 11, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Thanks Pal for commenting – and yes, we do love our candy!

I totally agree with you that you sometimes do really get what you pay for! That’s why we always trust online reviews over the cost of activities/places.

Nancie November 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm

These are all great tips. Although, I haven’t found an airline that will give me more leg room for $30.00. The last time I flew to Canada from Korea I did spend an extra 200.00 to get a bulkhead seat, and it was worth every penny.

I also source out the main tourist attractions/things to do, and if there is something expensive that I want to do, I start saving. Hot air ballooning in Myanmar comes to mind.

Meg November 11, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Thanks for commenting Nancie. RyanAir and Air Asia only charge a small fee for extra legroom – but $200 also seems very worth it! Great tip on saving for the big ticket items too! It’s always good to prioritize before a trip

Sofia January 26, 2013 at 3:04 am

Totally agree! Sometimes it’s really worth spending a bit extra for a more enjoyable trip. One thing we always pay extra for these days are seat reservations on trains, they usually only cost 4€ per seat, and it’s so worth it not having to end up standing in the aisle for hours on end.

Meg January 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Great tip Sofia! We didn’t do much train travel this year, but it sounds totally worth it!

OCDemon June 13, 2013 at 4:09 am

Despite the fact that each and every one of these is correct, I still can’t bring myself to pay for the “luxury” bus rides and I’ll be uncomfortable and unable to sleep for the entirety of the 18 hour journey. Someday I’ll realize this is stupid and stop, but…not for a while.

Meg June 13, 2013 at 1:54 pm

haha very good point… And there are never “VIP” bathrooms on bus rides!

ledy lacson June 2, 2014 at 12:44 am

i love your travelling experience, i myself as traveller too, have you try the sleeper bus. i do that when i was in eidenburgh going to london last april and really refreshing to woke up after eight hours travel that you are in london already. good luck guys we might see each other in other part of this world.this august i will be in dubronik for my daughter church wedding.

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