Travel: Unexpected Costs

Kerid crater from the bottom trail with a woman in a pink jacket sitting on a bench

As much as I try to plan for everything (or at least have some money set aside for activities) some unexpected cost always comes up! I recently talked about setting up a budget here and thought I’d share some of my personal experiences on when unexpected costs.

Northern Ireland

£20 GBP ($34 CAD) I travelled to Northern Ireland in March 2017 and had the exact amount of cash to pay for the Paddy Campbell’s Black Taxi Tour + tip in Belfast. I was being picked up at the Belfast city hall and parked at an underground parking garage just around the corner. At the end of the (amazing) tour, I handed the cab driver all my cash and went to pay for parking but my credit card wasn’t working! I set off in search of a bank, who told me they couldn’t exchange euros for pounds but I could go to the Marks & Spencer down the street to the third floor. Off I went again to exchange some money, where they need your passport, so luckily I had that in my bag. Finally, I got the cash to pay for parking and headed back to Dublin.

€55 EUR ($89 CAD) Another unexpected fee was renting a car in Ireland (at the Dublin airport) to drive to Belfast in Northern Ireland: there was a €55 fee to cross the border with the rental car!


The price of food. I had used this website to determine a budget for the trip BUT food was 1.5-2x more expensive than where I’m from (even with the conversion rate). My friend and I stopped at a restaurant and noticed it was about 3,000 ISK ($30 CAD) for a fish and chips dinner, about twice as much what I’m used to. After checking out a few restaurants with the same pricing we thought “maybe it’s just more expensive here???” and went to the nearest Subway. A footlong sub worked out to be about $12 CAD, 2x more than Canada! We realized it was just going to cost more for dinner than we were used to so we picked the restaurant that looked the best and stopped there.

400 ISK ($4 CAD) x every tea. I’m a huge tea drinker and an extra small tea cost about 400 ISK ($4 CAD); 4x more than Canada. I limited myself to get one only when I realllly wanted one!

350,000 ISK ($3,500 CAD) Someone hit our rental car in Iceland with their door. We didn’t get extended coverage and the deductible was 350,000 ISK ($3,500 CAD!!!). The rental company takes the entire amount, then take it to their mechanic to fix, and refund the difference. LUCKILY we got the information of the people who hit us (name, email, rental car company and license plate) and our rental car company went through the other rental company and we got a full refund.


Tipping. Booking my first all-inclusive resort in Cuba I was blown away at how cheap 7 days was going to be! However, I also didn’t factor in tipping (don’t judge, I had never travelled internationally without an adult before and never had to worry about it). You should tip your cleaning staff, bartenders, waiters/waitresses, beach staff etc. Another thing I hadn’t thought of before arriving!

Now, I include a ‘contingency’ amount in my budget for these unexpected costs. You never know when something unexpected will hit!!

What’s your worst “unexpected cost”?

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