Top 6 hidden costs that can trip up your travel budget

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A weaker euro and pound has made international travel even more attractive for the average US tourist, especially in a year when the dollar was already going great guns and has been the strongest in the past one decade.

Nevertheless, any sort of travel these days involves so many hidden expenses such as tourist taxes, entry fees, parking charges, foreign transaction fee and more that if unaccounted for, these charges can easily send your travel budget for a toss. Let’s go through such 6 hidden costs that you must keep in mind:

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Baggage fees

Being uninformed about the airline’s policy related to checked luggage can result in a pretty awkward situation for you at the airport. All airlines usually have their own specific fees and rules when it comes to checked baggage. You must inquire about them beforehand, in order to avoid getting any surprises at the check-in counter.

Even though few airlines like Southwest may allow you to check one piece of luggage for free on its domestic flights, others usually charge a minimum of $ 25 per bag checked in. So, if you’re a family of four, just the cost of checking your bags can be more than $ 100 each way. Not accounting for such added expense can easily derail your travel budget.

Resort fees

Easily the most hated hidden charge throughout the world, it’s an additional fees that can double up your cost of stay at certain locations. Hotels and resorts justify this additional fee as a cover for services like Wi-Fi access, toiletries, on-site gym, coffee etc. all of which should probably be free anyways.

Las Vegas in particular is known for the exorbitant resort fees charged in hotels there. It isn’t uncommon for these Sin City establishments to add an extra $ 35 – $ 40 per night to the customers’ bills.

Some other popular destinations where you may expect such daily resort fee are Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii, Florida and more. Please keep in mind that this fee isn’t normally included in the final price given to you. Information related to it can usually be found only in the terms and conditions of the establishment. So, it’s always better to ask your travel agent or the hotel before making a reservation.

Hotel and Airport ATM charges

Making cash withdrawals abroad on your vacation can turn out to be a pretty expensive affair, especially if you’re holed up in a place where you’re not left with much choices, for instance your hotel or at the airport. It’s observed that the bigger banks normally charge the most, for instance, the Bank of America puts a $5 charge on every withdrawal made from a non-Bank of America ATM abroad.

If you don’t want to resort to large wads of cash to avoid such fees, inquire about the international partner ATMs of your bank. Although you may still pay a fee, it’s most likely to be much lesser than charged at the non-partner ATMs.

Foreign transaction fees

Almost everyone uses credit cards on his/her domestic and foreign travels these days. After all, it’s the most convenient form of payment! Considering that majority of credit cards come with zero liability on fraudulent charges, they make an excellent alternative to the conventional bank debit cards.

Furthermore, since credit cards automatically make currency exchanges on foreign purchases, they can also save you in terms of the commission fees and hassle incurred in trading your dollars for local currency.

However, many such credit cards feature a foreign transaction fees of 3% or more. Hence, make sure that you understand these charges and preferably opt for a zero foreign transaction fee credit card during your travels abroad.

Mobile roaming charges

Considering the present age and times, not being able to use your mobile phone on your vacation may seem like a punishment (although it may actually turn out to be a blessing if you give it a shot!).

If you want to stay connected during your holiday but don’t wish to incur hefty roaming charges, contact your service provider and opt for some temporary international plan. In fact, many subscribers of the T-Mobile Simple Plan already have such roaming facility included in their plans.

Additionally or alternatively, it may be a great idea to invest into some free of cost VoIP application for making audio/video calls and IMs. Such apps can be a godsend if your hotel offers free Wi-Fi services or asks for a nominal charge for them.

Airline fees and taxes

Make sure that you check your airline ticket for the exact amount/percentage of fees and taxes put on it. You’d be normally required to cough up a nominal $ 5.60 charge per leg in terms of airline fees as mandated by the Federal Government for domestic air travel. However, such taxes, fuel surcharges and fees can sum up to hundreds of dollars for international flights.

Please note that these extras may not be all that evident at the time of booking your ticket. This is because such fees and taxes are built into the ticket cost. The only time you may notice them is when you’re redeeming your air miles, as these miles only cover the ticket cost; the fees and taxes need to be paid separately by you.

It’s very important to watch out for such fees and taxes as they can easily throw your travel budget off track (especially if you were planning to redeem your airline miles). Although there’s no way to avoid them besides completely changing your travel plans, you can opt certain strategies to circumvent them smartly. For instance, flying via Iceland rather than London can save you many hundred dollars in departure taxes. In addition, if you’re going to use your air miles, it would be best to look up the award fares much ahead of time in order to get a better understanding of such fees and taxes. The only way you can plan for such extras is by being aware of them.


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