9 Travel Expenses You Forgot to Budget For
When I prepare a budget for a trip, I like to add a padding of about 20% to my original estimate for unexpected expenses. It's difficult to anticipate every single expense that you'll encounter when you travel, but here are some common costs that could trip you up.
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1. Departure Taxes
Some countries impose departure taxes when you leave. You can't avoid this, so do some research on your destination before the trip.
A traveler I know once almost missed her flight because she gave away all her Indonesian currency to a local friend before approaching the check-in desk at the airport. If you're not sure whether there's a departure tax, keep your local currency until you've cleared all immigration and security checkpoints. Some airlines have donation envelopes on board where you can deposit any remaining change for charity.
2. Resort Fees
You may be hit by mandatory resort fees when you check in at certain hotels. These fees range between $10 and $30 per night, and they supposedly cover things like Internet, phone calls, and newspapers. Ask before you book. (See also: Negotiate All Your Travel: The Ultimate Guide)
You've probably included meals in your budget, but light snacks and drinks can add up too.
For example, if you choose a cheaper flight with a stopover along the way, you might be tempted to buy a sandwich and a cup of coffee while you wait at the airport. This may wipe out any savings you get from booking the cheaper flight in the first place!
With security being stricter than ever, you also can't take much food or drink into the plane. You'll pay a premium if you have to buy them during the flight or even at the airport.
4. Flight Fees
Budget airlines are the biggest culprits when it comes to hidden fees, but there's always a chance that you'll be charged extra fees by any airline.
The excess baggage fee is one of the most common ones you'll encounter. Some check-in agents are less strict about baggage limits, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Before your flight, always check the airline baggage policies, then measure and weigh your bags. You may be able to purchase extra baggage allowance before the flight at a lower cost.
Depending on your airline, you may also be charged extra fees for failing to check in online, not printing out your boarding pass, misspelling your name, and calling the airline phone line. In 2010, RyanAir even tried to impose fees for using the lavatory on the plane.
Parking fees in big cities can be outrageously expensive.
Your hotel may not provide a parking spot for you, so read the fine print before you book. In general, you have a better chance of getting free parking if you make your reservation directly with the hotel. Even if the hotel doesn't automatically include a free parking spot with every reservation, there's a possibility that you could get them to throw in a freebie if you ask nicely.
6. Cell Phone Roaming Charges
Even if you travel domestically, you may have to pay long-distance charges for phone calls. When you travel internationally, you could potentially incur a fortune in roaming charges.
If you don't absolutely need an Internet connection, turn off your data service and use only Wi-Fi. When contacting someone at home, use a chat app or a VoIP service such as Skype. And if you'll be staying for a while at your destination, consider getting a local phone number.
Of course it's a good idea to disconnect when you travel, but sometimes you need to know that everything at work is going smoothly in order to fully relax. Or you may need to access your reservation details in your email inbox. Whatever the reason, it's likely you'll need Internet connection during your trip.
Some hotels and airports provide free Wi-Fi, but there are others that charge a substantial fee for every device you use. Check airport websites and the fine print on your hotel reservation to prepare yourself for these fees.
8. Weather-Related Expenses
It's difficult to guess what the weather will be like during a trip. I've experienced snow in spring, hail storms in summer, and heavy flooding in tropical monsoon season.
Weather-related costs can be anything from the retail price of an umbrella to flight change fees because you can't get to the airport on time. You could pack waterproof clothes that can be layered to anticipate cool days, but it may not be possible to fully prepare yourself for freak weather.
9. Currency Exchange
If you're not careful, you could easily pay hundreds of dollars in currency exchange fees.
When you withdraw cash from an ATM that belongs to any bank other than your own, you could be charged fees by both your bank and the bank that owns the ATM. It's cheaper to withdraw as much money as you can safely carry every time you visit an ATM. If you travel a lot, consider getting a fee-free ATM card like the one from Charles Schwab.
Your credit card may also charge you a 3% currency conversion fee on every payment. Some cards don't charge this fee, so check with your bank before your departure. It may be worth your while to get a new card that doesn't charge any currency conversion fee. (See also: Top 5 Travel Reward Cards)
Have you ever been hit by an unexpected fee while traveling? Please share in comments!