Congratulations! You have picked your next holiday destination, outlined your itinerary, and reserved your airfare and hotel. It is an exciting time, and you can’t wait to hop on a plane and be on the road sightseeing!
But before you head out, reflect a bit, and focus. How much is your budget? Have you carefully thought it through? In calculating your travel allowance, you may not have considered some of the expense-related surprises that maybe lurking around each corner.
Travel has a reputation for being a costly pursuit, and it can be — if you don’t adequately prepare yourself. Countless hidden costs can impact you and your wallet, causing you and your travel companions to go over your own respective budgets. Ranging from minor expenses (such as bottles of hotel water) to more sizable fees (such as resort fees), here is how you can avoid eight of the most common surprise overseas travel expenses.
Thanks to the Internet, travelers can save time and money by booking their flights online. If you opt to call and communicate with a live agent, you are most likely going to be charged extra for their time. Major airlines such as United, American Airlines, Southwest, and JetBlue charge customers for offline reservations.
Tip: If you need to ask any questions or clarify an issue, call. But when it comes to actually booking your flights, elect to do that online.
If you absolutely must check a bag, then ensure you are saving yourself as much money as possible by sidestepping the shock of an overweight or extra baggage fee.
Tip: Before your flight (preferably the day prior), weigh yourself on a home scale and then weigh yourself holding your bag. If the difference between the two weights is more than 50 pounds, then you’re likely to get an overweight baggage charge. Move some of the bulky items to your carry-on bag, which will have a size limit but not a weight limit, and avoid the fee.
Food and Water
Once you are inside the security gate, prices of food and water magically increase. With restricted choices, vendors know they charge you accordingly. Still, you can pack certain food items in your carry-on, but airport security won’t let you bring water or any other liquids through. So you could wind up spending $4 for a bottle of drinking water.
Tip: Bring an empty, reusable water bottle and fill it at a water fountain inside the airport. Pack snacks that are filled with fiber and protein (energy bars or nuts work well) in your carry-on bag to ensure you stay full while on the go.
Depending on your passport and where you are traveling to, a visa may be required. While this should never stop you from exploring, it is important to realize that visa fees do add up. Visas can also take a couple of weeks to process. So it is vital you do your research months ahead of your holiday; this way, you also avoid having to pay more to expedite the process.
Tip: To obtain the most accurate information and guarantee you are getting your visa in the quickest and easiest manner possible, choose to use experienced visa consultants
Money exchange and ATM transactions
In many countries, off-the-beaten-path destinations won’t take credit cards nor have an ATM facility around. Again, this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying your holiday destination. But you should be aware regarding how you will go about your journey in terms of cash.
On your way out of the city or town, stop by a major ATM (which usually offer the best exchange rates), and make your withdrawal. Foreign exchange bureaus are also an option but they charge notoriously higher fees. If you plan on leaving the price up to the shopkeeper or restaurant owner, be prepared to pay more. Additionally, hotel ATMs often charge higher ATM fees to capitalize on hurried or desperate travelers.
Tip: Always plan ahead, especially when it comes to cash. Depending on where you are traveling to, either keep an eye out for your bank’s ATM, utilize an app such as the ATM Hunter to find free or low-cost access to your own money, or bring a reasonable amount of cash with you from your home country.
Resort fees are one of the most hated extra charges among travelers who frequent these kinds of travel destinations. Many resorts will add to your bill upwards of $25 per room, per night to cover WiFi, pool towels, newspapers and other things you may have presumed were free. Even hotels such as The Bellagio in Las Vegas add extra fees to your room bill!
Tip: The fact of the matter is that these charges are non-negotiable, but ensure you are reading the fine print when booking a holiday at resorts or all-inclusive hotels, especially if you are booking through a third-party site. You want to make sure you are budgeting correctly!
Similar to resorts, bills for all-inclusive cruises also tend to escalate quickly. Even if you have prepaid (and it was a fantastic deal), you are still going to receive an additional bill before you reach the final port.
Most major cruise lines will automatically bill you upwards of $10, per person, per day, for each day of the cruise. And these charges are not inclusive of the service percentage that is added automatically to your bar tab.
Tip: Again, these are non-negotiable charges, so the way to handle them is to understand the cost of everything before you reserve your space on the boat! Talk to representatives from the cruise before embarking on your journey, so you have a clear picture of what is and isn’t included. From there, you and your travel companions can set a daily budget, so there aren’t any expensive surprises!
In addition to the Passenger Facility Charge and the Segment Tax, many international airline tickets also include a departure tax. However, while most countries charge one, it isn’t always included in your airfare. If this happens, you will have to pay the exit fee at the airport on your way home. All travelers will have to pay such fees before moving through immigration.
Tip: Normally cash or credit card can be used to pay the fee, and most airport websites have up-to-date information about what is required. If you are unable to find the information or are unsure about anything, speak with a representative from your airline. While they can be irritating if you aren’t expecting them (and, therefore don’t have the cash to pay), departure fees are customarily utilized to pay for improvements such as airport construction, infrastructure improvement, and water and sewage system maintenance.
Have you ever experienced any such hidden costs while traveling? How do you ensure it doesn’t happen again? With these travel budgeting tips, hidden costs should be a thing of the past so you get to travel stress free