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7 Spring Break Money Wasters

5. Using your phone as usual
Another problem foreign travelers encounter frequently, especially students who travel in groups and need to make sure they know where to meet up at mealtime, is forgetting to change your cellphone plan to one that supports international activity.

Most wireless companies will allow you to activate a temporary add-on to your monthly plan for less than $10, so you avoid paying international roaming charges, but that's not the only option. We looked into this question before and found plenty of other ways to avoid a massive cellphone bill after a trip, such as renting a phone or just buying a local SIM card on arrival and using that in your phone to take advantage of cheap local rates.

6. Paying full price
No matter where you travel, you should always check for any discounts that might be available but are not advertised. The most obvious of these for spring break travelers -- the student discount -- is not always stated clearly on a company's booking page.

Weiss suggests checking for AAA, student discounts and any deals associated with a frequent-flier membership you have, since hotels and car-rental companies often have partnerships with them. Another strategy he suggests is investigating whether a parent can use a corporate or AARP discount to book a reservation for you, and you can just pay the parent back.

The least you can do, Weiss says, is avoid nonrefundable reservations.

"When they say the rate is not refundable, just tell them you're not ready to commit because you haven't done all the research yet," Weiss advises. "They might come back immediately with a better offer but otherwise you can look first and try to get a discount just before the cancellation period."

7. Not protecting personal information

These days everyone from online retailers to utility companies to the charity you donated to last Christmas has identifying details about you, and with all the leaks that have happened in recent years, it's a good bet your data has probably already been stolen.

Still, fraud and identity theft are some of the most common, and most easily prevented, ways young people see their finances damaged -- especially while traveling.

"I see so many students talking on their cellphones and giving their whole Social Security number and date of birth to people on the other end of the line," Weiss says. "Cellphones are not secure to begin with, but anyone listening can unlock everything, and public Wi-Fi like you would use in an airport is a huge risk. Putting passwords and other info on publicly accessible networks is almost inviting people to take advantage of you.

-- Written by Greg Emerson in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Greg Emerson.

>To follow the writer on Twitter, go to @emersongreg.

>To submit a news tip, email:


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