Spotting Bargain Travel Risks: 15 Realities Every Penny-Pinching Traveler Should Know

Everybody loves saving money when exploring the world, but when does budget traveling encroach into stressful traveling? In many cases, savvy travelers must deal with headaches in return for such inexpensive flights and accommodations. Today, we’re looking at many of the pitfalls of budget travel that even the most experienced travelers can occasionally succumb to.

#1. Getting Nickel-and-Dimed in the Air

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Budget airlines like Spirit, Frontier, and Allegiant offer some of the cheapest flight tickets in the industry, but it comes at the expense of creature comforts while flying!

It’s normal to be nickel-and-dimed for all items while in the air, from bottles of water to peanuts to even bringing a carry-on bag.

It’s clear these airlines make up for their inexpensive tickets by charging for everything except the air you breathe.

#2. Flight Cancelations

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I remember my first trip to Las Vegas like it was yesterday. I booked a shockingly low flight from San Diego to Sin City and couldn’t have been happier to save that much money.

Unfortunately, after two separate notifications that my flight had been delayed, it was ultimately canceled! That day, I learned a valuable lesson: The cheaper your flight, the more likely it will be canceled.

#3. Being Crammed into a Budget Airline’s Plane

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While legacy U.S.-based airlines like American, Delta, and United fly the newest and most modern planes, ultra-low-cost carriers use planes that are better off in the 90s and early 2000s.

Of course, this results in the feeling of being crammed like cattle as soon as you board. New planes are more spacious than older models, but unfortunately, you won’t reap those benefits when traveling on a budget.

#4. Shady Booking Sites

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During the seemingly neverending search for the best deals online, travelers will undoubtedly deal with shady booking websites.

From navigating through their bizarrely laid-out sites to second-guessing their pricing (while also dealing with hidden fees), navigating through shady booking platforms is a necessary evil when searching for the cheapest vacations.

Yet we all do it anyway because the deals are that good.

#5. Loud Hostels

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As many travelers know, hostels are among the most affordable overnight options for anyone wanting to save a few dollars.

However, staying in some hostels comes with a caveat: It can be incredibly loud! For those without noise-canceling earbuds or earplugs, an overnight hostel stay can be straight-up, well, hostile.

#6. Older, Disappointing Hotels

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You must pay the big bucks if you want to travel the world and stay at the most upscale and luxurious hotels.

Five-star hotels frequently broach the $500 per night mark, making smaller, lower-quality hotels and motels far more attractive to the frugal traveler.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to deal with everything a budget hotel offers, from questionable stains to leaky fixtures in the bathroom (and everything in between).

#7. Lack of Modern Amenities

Happy woman ordered tasty breakfast during flight in the plane and drinking tea. Catering and menu on the airplane
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No matter where you stay or what airline you fly on a budget, you’ll be faced with the unhappy realization that modern amenities will most likely not be part of your travel plans.

I’m a massive fan of amenities and will always pay extra for some of the creature comforts I have grown accustomed to over the years.

Budget hotels don’t offer complimentary restaurant breakfast, turndown service, and blackout curtains; it may sound snobby, but these are the things I can’t live without!

#8. Airbnb Stays That Are Misleading

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When searching for the Airbnb deal of the century, travelers must approach it cautiously.

Some Airbnb listings can be intentionally misleading, like leaving out information like “Our Airbnb is in a dangerous area of town” and “We do not offer air conditioning at this time.”

I’m one of countless travelers who have walked into their budget-friendly Airbnb and been blindsided by what I’ve just walked into!

#9. Constant Layovers

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Facts are facts: It’s more expensive to fly direct, so budget-minded travelers must accept that their flights will be riddled with layovers.

Nobody said traveling on a budget would be enjoyable; they only said it would be cheap!

For some men and women, layovers are the most unbearable part of flying, but most fail to realize they did it to themselves.

#10. Non-Reclining Airplane Seats

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Although the jury is still out on whether using the reclining function on your airplane is good etiquette these days, when you fly on a budget airline, that moral quandary is out of your hands because those seats don’t recline anyway!

For countless travelers, flying on budget airlines means a long, uncomfortable flight that makes you wish you spent a few more dollars on a more expensive airline to have that all-important few inches of recline.

#11. Scary Plane Rides

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It may be my imagination talking, but I feel slightly less safe in the air when I fly with a budget airline.

I notice every rocky bit of turbulence a little more; the bolts holding the plane’s wing together all look like they’re ever-so-slightly coming loose from my vantage point.

It’s all in my head, of course, but there is peace of mind that accompanies flying full-cost airlines that you can’t put a price on.

#12. Poor Customer Support

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Quality customer support is built into the price of legacy airline tickets and upscale hotels. Still, when engaging in a race to the bottom, most budget travel options can’t compete in this regard.

Good luck if you need to reach the customer support team for budget airlines; at best, they’ll direct you to their social media team, where they’ll give you the runaround until you quietly give up.

#13. Awful Breakfasts

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There’s a chasm between “free continental breakfast” and “free restaurant breakfast” when staying at hotels. While many budget-quality hotels offer complimentary continental breakfast, it’s often terrible.

Think cold cereal, lukewarm coffee, and prison-quality scrambled eggs. Unfortunately, you must acclimate to such subpar complimentary meals when traveling on a budget.

#14. Baggage Limitations

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Attempting to navigate budget airlines’ confusing baggage rules and limitations can drive even the most sane traveler crazy!

From nonsensical weight limits to restrictions on checked bags, carry-ons, and even personal items, budget airlines have a reputation for making passengers pay out of pocket at the gate when their bags don’t meet their strict definitions of what’s allowed.

#15. The Exhausting Planning Process

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Arguably, the most stressful part of budget traveling is the exhausting planning process. Finding the best deals takes time, patience, and a lot of luck.

Once you adopt this frugal mindset, it encompasses you. On the plus side, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best travel deals anyone has found, but the downside is you’ll be dead tired just from the planning process alone!

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute or replace professional financial advice.

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