Hidden Costs of Holidays

About 12 months ago, a group of us (all amateur photographers) signed on to do a 3-week trip covering Tromso, London, and Paris.  The price looked excellent – too good to pass up.  Add the lure of northern lights chasing, and we were all keen.  But the initial cost proved to be, only, the beginning. I found there are many hidden costs of planning holidays.

While the price was undeniably great, there were hidden costs. Costs that I didn’t consider as a first-time long haul overseas trip at the time before I said yes.  Things you don’t think to factor in with the glow of excitement over an overseas trip to far-flung places. And no, I don’t mean travel insurance and spending money, which I had budgeted in. 

No Regrets (do it all)

Considering the vast distances we are travelling to get there, (35 hrs travelling time Australia to Tromso with three plane changes). Add in the likelihood that, most likely, we are never going back due to distance and cost. Therefore, we all wanted to get shots worthy of bringing home.  The last words I wanted on my lips at the end of the trip was “I wish”.  I wish I had bought a wide-angle lens. I wish I had the new filters I have been looking at. I wish I had a better/bigger/smaller bag; I wish I had better clothing for the cold; I wish I could have afforded to take that extra tour. I wish, I wish, I wish. You see where I am going.

image by Jasper Aggergaard at unsplash.com/@aggergakker

As it’s a photographic trip, we have upgraded our camera gear.  Three of us have new cameras (two wholly changed over from Canon to Olympus. And yes, add all the new lenses that go with that.  All of us bought extra batteries to cope with the cold. Some have new filters,  others new camera bags, additional memory cards, lighter carbon fibre tripods, new smaller lighter laptops and externals to back up the images, bigger camera bags to fit in snacks, water, wet weather gear. The shopping went on and on and on and on.

image by yousef alfuhigi at Unsplash

Also burning through the credit cards and savings was clothing.  Its forecast to be between 1C – 5C in Tromso. So thermal underwear, snow boots, waterproof hikers and photography gloves. Waterproof gloves to keep the hands warm but engineered work the cameras were purchased.  Add down coats, thermal hats, snow socks, windproof, waterproof pants.  London and Paris will be a little warmer. We had two nights booked out northern lights chasing. Plus day trips out on arctic wildlife spotting and night trips elsewhere, the arctic gear was the first thing we ordered

hidden costs of planning holidays.
Super warm socks

Hot Hands and Toes

Hot Hands (little heat-activated pouches that give off heat for 8-10 hours) have been purchased and stockpiled over the winter months to take with us.  Sorry if you went to chemist warehouse and there was none left. But we needed them ?  One hot hand in each pocket to keep batteries warm (they go flat quicker in the cold) plus one in each glove. Buy packing cubes to find things when I need them instead of going through my suitcase like police with a search warrant. Add a couple of small laundry bags, cubes!


Travelling overseas, everyone realises you need special power adapters.  Travelling to Europe and the UK we need one for each country. Add a powerboard to simultaneously charge camera batteries, watches, iPhones, iPads, laptops. A power bank for charging phones on the go and to recharge batteries quickly after being out shooting all day, before going out again most of the night. Add a double camera battery charger.


Being that we had some free days and following on from the ‘no regrets’ mantra, we also planned to see and do as much as humanly possible while we were there.  Cram as much in, see as much as we can, photograph everything, sleep when we get home. So, it follows, we needed to fill our ‘free days’ with tours, right?

flying over norway

In Tromso, add an arctic wildlife experience, add another night northern light chasing to maximise our time. Add tours in London to Cornwall, white cliffs of Dover, Cotswolds, Canterbury Cathedral, Westminster Cathedral,  Tower of London, Alice in Wonderland High Tea. in Paris, add a skip the line Eiffel tower to the summit and Mont St Michel.  Stay an extra few days, travel to Germany, and take the train rather than fly. It’s all about the experience, right?  Add tours to the Castles and another to Salzburg, Austria. Oh, excellent, look, another $2k gone. Tetanus shot (doctors orders). Oyster cards, global sim, convert Aussie dollars to cash in three currencies, so we have some folding stuff on landing. Letter from the doctor for medications. New packets of said medications have to stay in their boxes and not be in pillboxes.

hidden costs of planning holidays.
Forgotten Anything?

Ummmm, I don’t think I have, but despite that, we have more gear, backups, and planning than Roald Amundsen or Scott of the Antarctic. I am confident when I get on the plane. I will remember something I should have bought or packed!

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