Travel can be affordable and budget-friendly, but there’s nothing worse than a surprise expense that can affect your vacation.
When considering a vacation, plan exactly where your dollars will go. It helps you decide where you can and cannot splurge during your travels. However, these six overlooked expenses should be in your travel budget to help you avoid any mishaps or overspending.
After you’ve spent several hours comparing hotels and checking out their social media for up-to-date photos, you have finally locked in at a great rate. Hotels and resorts often lure you in with compelling pictures and sometimes promotional offers that make you excited and quick to book. The fees you forget to include in your travels likely start with your lodging because the booking price is often not the amount you’ll pay at check-in, and here’s why.
If you stay at a resort, the nightly rate and applicable taxes do not include the resort fee. Resort fees are an additional daily charge that covers some on-site amenities for guests, including enhanced Wi-Fi, complimentary water, bike rentals, or beach towels. These fees are per room (not per guest) for each day of your stay and are not refundable even if you do not use the services. All-inclusive resorts may also have additional fees for some activities like water sports or excursions. Frequent travelers may have their resort fees waived at some destinations if they book the stay utilizing points. Resort fees can range from $25 to $100 per day.
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INSIDER TIPDo you have money in case your hotel is not as expected?
Or if the rental car company imposes additional fees for out-of-state renters?
What if you suddenly have a layover due to a diverted or oversold flight?
Hotels also impose an incidental rate charged per night that covers any food or service you may charge to your room. It also covers any excessive damage to the room. Upon check-out, you will receive a refund after the charges (if any) get paid. Depending on the destination and policies, you can be charged resort and incidental fees at check-in. As a best practice, always call (before booking) to inquire about fees beyond the cost of the room. The incidental fees can range from $15-$100 per night.
INSIDER TIPWhat if you get ill and need to do a drugstore run? If you can, have a cushion for emergencies. You should also purchase travel insurance for additional protection during travels.
International Phone Plans
Domestic carriers and cell phone plans offer international coverage. Your phone can work in other locations but often incurs a charge. When I went to Colombia, I was charged $10 each day after a free 4-day international plan trial with T-Mobile. Connecting to free Wi-Fi can help you stay connected if you use web-based apps to communicate. If you purchase a phone plan, always ask your carrier about the specific areas you will be traveling to ensure your phone will still work in those areas. Alternatively, services like Airlo allow you to connect your phone to local, regional, or global phone service via e-sim. Their rates start as low as $3 per day.
I took public transportation while traveling through a few destinations last year. It saved me hundreds of dollars! For instance, taking the light rail from SeaTac into the downtown area cost me $3 instead of $40 plus on ride share. In Richmond, the city bus was free. There are also hotel shuttles that provide transportation within a set radius. Even if this is your plan, still put some money in your budget for transportation for ride-share or taxi services. It will come in handy if there are weather changes or you want to do something beyond your initial travel plans. In places like Puerto Rico and Columbia, I experienced taxi rides that charged per person with additional fees for excessive luggage.
INSIDER TIPIf you drive to your destination or use a rental car, plan to pay for parking in some cities. For example, when dining out in some parts of Tampa and DC, there is paid street parking or restaurants that use a valet. Some hotels only have valet parking. Others have self-parking for a fee. Both of these fees are daily charges. Check for parking information on the hotel’s website or call to ask before booking. You will also want to look at the routes to plan for tolls.
Foreign Transaction Fees
Credit and debit cards are standard payment methods. However, there could be some fees for swiping when traveling. The rates vary based on card type. Your bank can tell you the exact amount for using your card(s) internationally. The most I have been charged for using my card internationally thus far is 3% per transaction, but my bank did refund those fees after my travels. Paying for activities, food, and travel over multiple days can quickly rack up those additional fees.
Traveling on a budget can mean having an itinerary to follow. While those are great, you should have room for spontaneity or a change of plans. When I visited Puerto Rico, we had several pre-planned excursions, some of which got canceled due to uncontrollable circumstances. In any city, there is also something I do that I was not aware of before arriving. Give yourself an extra $50-$100 to allow for unplanned activities or a change of plans.
Really? How about tips, gas for the rental car, postage for post cards, bar tabs, snacks, spontaneous meals at food carts and kiosks, ice cream, bottles of water, taxis, cabs, trams, public rail and Uber, tolls, bellhops and porters, entrance tickets?
If driving in countries where toll roads are order of the day, don't forget those costs!