How I Lost $500 Because I Wasn't Paying Attention

Last September, I went on an exciting trip with my boyfriend to Toronto. It was his first time visiting another country and my first time going to IMATs, a convention for makeup enthusiasts. Although the trip was unforgettable, I made a few preventable, travel-related mistakes that ended up costing me over $500.

How I Lost $500 Because I Wasn’t Paying Attention

1st Mistake: Passport

Up until a couple months before the trip, both my boyfriend and I were under the assumption that you only needed your driver’s license/photo ID to travel to Canada from the US. I don’t know why we thought that or if that was ever true, but we waited up until the last minute to double-check.

I then realized my passport had expired just a few months before the trip was scheduled to happen, AND my renewed passport wouldn’t get to me in time before leaving, so it needed to be expedited. Instead of just paying $110 to get my passport renewed, I had to pay a total of $509 to expedite it.

Getting my passport renewed: $110

Getting my passport expedited so it would arrive on time plus other fees: $399

2nd Mistake: Parking Ticket

Because my car system can easily switch to kilometers and other metric measurements like Celsius, I didn’t think there would be any big difference between driving in Toronto versus in the US. However, when we stopped to grab some coffee, I parked on a street and paid the parking meter, only to come back and see a parking ticket for over $100!

We realized there was a (tiny) ‘No Standing’ sign near our parking spot, which apparently means ‘No Parking,’ even though there was a working meter right next to our car. This is something I’d never heard of before. If my boyfriend and I had paid closer attention and then looked up what ‘No Standing’ meant to double check, we could have avoided this very expensive parking ticket.

All Parking Expenses: $63.91

Parking Ticket: $116

Total Extra Money I Paid: $515

I’ve picked up up two major lessons from this experience.

1) If you’re traveling to a different country (or even a different region within your own country), be sure to give yourself ample time to get your travel documentation in order, and check the rules of entry.

2) Once you arrive at your travel destination, double check what all the transportation signs mean. Not knowing the language isn’t an excuse and isn’t going to get you out of a ticket.

Have you ever made a big traveling mistake that ended up costing you?