Hidden Travel Costs Boost Vacation Expenses

Photo (cc) by mroach

Online search engines are great for seeking the lowest rates on anything travel-related, from plane tickets to rental cars. That’s why when vacation time rolls around, the first trip many people take is to the computer.

There’s only one problem: The base price you compare while searching and the final price you actually pay are often vastly different.

Hotels

Use Priceline, Hotwire, Hotels.com or another travel search engine and you’ll probably (although not always) find a deal on a room. But after you book, be prepared to pay more than the price you were quoted. The site may charge you a booking fee. Then there are taxes: Local occupancy taxes can add 10% to 20% to the bill. Sales taxes could add 5% to 10% more. In California, for example, the minimum sales tax is 8.25%. Add local sales taxes, and in some cities you’ll pay more than 10%.

When you get to your hotel, you’ve got another potential tsunami of fees, from Internet use fees to a “resort fee” to use the gym. In some major metropolitan areas you can pay $45 just to park a car overnight.

Add it all up and you could easily pay 20% more than the price you thought you were paying.

Solution? Before you pay for a hotel room on any travel site, be sure you know the full cost, not just the basic rate. Before you book, call the hotel directly and ask about extra fees. (While you’re at it, ask if they can beat the price you were quoted online; if you’re a member of AARP or AAA, it’s possible.)

If you don’t like what you discover, consider other options. For example, check out our recent story called Best Hotel Price You’ll Pay This Summer? 0!

Airlines

Airlines have been making headlines for years with the fees they’re charging, including the most recent and ridiculous, Spirit Airline’s fee of up to $45 for a single carry-on bag.

Most major airlines now charge $25 for the first checked bag and $30 for the second, with much higher prices for oversize and overweight bags. Be sure to check the fees on the carrier’s website and weigh your bags before you get to the airport.

Once you’re on that discount flight, prepare to pay up if you’re hungry or thirsty. While most airlines still provide free soda or water (Spirit Air charges $3 for water), snacks on some carriers can set you back $3 to $7. Pillows and blankets could cost you, as will alcohol, headsets and, if it’s available, Internet access.

Of course, most in-flight fees can be avoided simply by carrying on what you need. Luggage fees can be minimized by packing less, flying airlines that don’t charge for luggage (Southwest) and avoiding those that do (pretty much everyone else).

Rental Cars

As you saw in the news video above, the guy we stopped at the airport rental car counter booked his car for $15 a day, then proceeded to pay $75 for three days — nearly 80% more than the rate he booked. Where did the extra come from? Largely the same sources as hotel extras: local taxes and fees.

Then there are the extras: If you need a child safety seat, it’s $10 to $12. GPS? $12 to $15. Collision damage waiver (basically rental car insurance)? $15 to $50 a day.

To avoid the rip-off of collision damage waiver, always check to make sure your own car policy and/or a premium credit card will cover you in a rental. As for the other fees? There’s not much you can do except be prepared.

International Credit Card Fees

How would you like to pay 3% more than everyone else for everything you buy? That can easily happen if you pack the wrong credit card on an international trip.

Most credit cards add as much as a 3% international transaction fee to the cost of your purchase. “This international transaction fee is assessed to any purchase, whether it’s a $3 piece of pizza or a $5,000 piece of art,” says Bill Hardekopf, CEO of LowCards.com

There aren’t many cards that don’t charge a fee, but there are a couple. Check out our story called Traveling Overseas? Pack the Proper Plastic for zero-fee international cards and other travel tips.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
The 13 Worst Types of Tickets for Your Car Insurance Rate
The 13 Worst Types of Tickets for Your Car Insurance Rate

Some types of traffic violations can drive your car insurance rate dramatically higher.

10 Common Expenses That Have Skyrocketed for Seniors
10 Common Expenses That Have Skyrocketed for Seniors

Retirees must stretch their dollars further and further these days — no thanks to these costs.

33 Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100
33 Home Upgrades That Cost Less Than $100

A little money goes a long way with these imaginative projects. You can do most of them yourself.

10 Ways to Nail Savings on Your Remodeling Project
10 Ways to Nail Savings on Your Remodeling Project

Here’s how to save on your next remodeling project with discounted materials and more tips and tricks.

7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying
7 Ways to Save Money Without Trying

Saving money doesn’t always mean drudgery and sacrifice. These tools make it easy — sometimes even fun.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco
11 Things Retirees Should Always Buy at Costco

This leader in bulk shopping is a great place to find discounts in the fixed-income years.

Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines
Over 50? The CDC Says You Need These 4 Vaccines

Fall is the time to schedule vaccines that can keep you healthy — and even save your life.

11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older
11 Senior Discounts for Anyone Age 55 or Older

There is no need to wait until you’re 65 to take advantage of so-called “senior” discounts.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies
8 Things You Can Get for Free at Pharmacies

In this age of higher-priced drugs and complex health care systems, a trip to the pharmacy can spark worry. Freebies sure do help.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America
The 10 Most Commonly Stolen Vehicles in America

A new model parks atop the list of vehicles that thieves love to pilfer.

9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
9 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62
10 Reasons Why You Should Actually Retire at 62

If you can, here are several good reasons to retire earlier than we’re told to.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19
Do This in the Car If You Want to Avoid COVID-19

It takes just seconds to take this simple preventive measure.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It
15 Products You Need — Even If You Didn’t Know It

Discover some must-have products on Amazon that you didn’t even know you were missing.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income
26 States That Do Not Tax Social Security Income

These states won’t tax any of your Social Security income — and in some cases, other types of retirement income.

14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare
14 Things That Are ‘Free’ With Medicare

These services could save you money and help prevent costly health problems.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.