It is important to budget carefully for your travel, but it can be tough when there are so many hidden fees imposed on travelers these days. Here are some important ones to avoid.
1. Booking Your Flight
Reservations can cost if you try to book them on the phone these days. However, booking online can be costly too, if you make a mistake. If you have to make a change, they will often charge fees so high they are not much different from the airfare itself. Look for a website or airline that offers a 24-hour flexible booking period. Trip insurance might seem like an extra fee that you would wish to avoid, but it can save a lot of money in the long run.
Be careful when it comes to using frequent flyer programs, because they sometimes impose fees on your supposed free flights. There might be fuel charges, airport fees, and redemption charges when you cash in the miles.
Fuel surcharges are another tricky fee to avoid. They are often tacked onto your frequent flyer miles, and to small children who don’t take up a seat. International flights will be the most expensive. Compare costs carefully. The cheap fare you see may not be so cheap after all if the airline imposes fuel surcharges.
Checked baggage fees are another bone of contention. If you want to bring more than just a carry-on bag, most airlines now charge you for it. Pack tightly and bring only small bottles of toiletries that satisfy the rules about how much can be brought onboard. You can always buy more once you arrive at your destination, or use the freebies hotels and motels usually provide.
Overweight baggage fees are exorbitant. If you do have to check a bag, avoid adding even more fees by making sure you don’t over-pack. Weigh your luggage before you leave to avoid any surprises. Don’t go crazy with souvenirs on the way back either.
Visa, exit and tourist fees are another little surprise we often forget to budget for. It will often be included in the airfare. Check online for visa application fees.
2. Car Rental
Check to make sure the fee includes everything, with no added extras. Remember that your credit card will offer travel protection for collisions, so you might not need additional insurance.
Key replacement, alternate drop-off locations and fuel surcharges can all end up costing you big time. They will also charge if the tank isn’t full, so fill it up cheaply before heading in to drop it off.
Room supplements for singles (or more than X number of people in a room) are common, and can add up. Beware of resort fees, which can tack on as much as 10% more per night. Steer clear of the minibar, phone, and "free snacks and water" in the room which turn out not to be.
Valet parking can add up too, but might be cheaper than trying to park in a local lot in the center of a big city.
Other fees to watch out for are luggage storage if you want to stow your bags before check-in or after check-out so you can see the sights, towel fees if there is a pool or beach, use of the hotel safe to store valuables, newspaper fees, and a charge for using the fitness center. Also watch out for "energy fees" and ATM fees well above normal if you are tempted to use a machine in the hotel lobby.
Port fees and taxes are quite common. The more places the ship stops, the more fees there will be. They should be included in the price, but do check.
Service charges for drinks is also common, up to around 15%. WiFi can also cost a good deal per day.
Be careful with shore excursions. They are not usually included in the price of the cruise, so renting equipment can be costly.