After weeks of planning your vacation, the countdown begins. You’ve booked your airfare and hotel, planned the itinerary and purchased trip essentials. You are in set-to-jet-mode. But hit pause — when it comes to figuring out the full cost of your vacation, it’s best to take your time. Overlooked travel expenses are common and tend to add up.
Click through to see the most common overlooked travel expenses — including some daily recurring fees — that can unexpectedly add hundreds of dollars to a vacation budget. Keep these surprises in mind so you can budget accordingly, or better yet, avoid these unexpected travel expenses altogether.
1. Resort Fees
Resort fees, which can range from $25 to over $100 per night, might include toiletries, beach towels, a fitness center and other amenities. In 2015, consumers spent around $2 billion on resort fees, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association, as reported by Reuters.
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Always ask the hotel or your travel agent about this fee before booking a hotel stay, as it isn’t always included in the quoted price. And be aware that this travel expense is commonly found in popular resort areas like Hawaii, Florida, the Caribbean and Las Vegas.
2. Airport Parking
If you must drive yourself to the airport, park in the airport’s economy lot and take a shuttle to the terminal to cut this travel expense by as much as 50 percent, depending on the airport.
For example, at the Philadelphia International Airport, travelers pay $11 daily for the economy rate compared to $24 for 24 hours of garage parking. If you are traveling from a major U.S. airport, check airport parking rates and see if you can reserve a space in advance.
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3. Delayed or Canceled Flights
If you ever experienced an extremely delayed or canceled flight, you know that it can cost you extra money. Depending on the airline and what caused the delay or cancellation, you might not be able to recoup all of your travel expenses.
For example, you can get a refund from United Airlines “if you decide to no longer travel either because your original flight was canceled or you are delayed two hours or more,” states its website. However, ticketing fees are nonrefundable. And what about the cost to book a ticket on another airline, as well as the cost to re-book or cancel your hotel stay and other activities you had planned on your trip? Prepare for these travel expenses before you leave for your trip.
4. Rental Car Insurance
Optional coverage on a rental car can add up to $30 per day to your rental fee, according to Consumer Affairs. So before you add the coverage, check your auto insurance policy to see if it covers rental cars. Or, use a credit card that automatically offers coverage.
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5. Car Rental Upsells
“This one gets almost everyone,” said Alex Buri, a co-founder of kimkim, which specializes in tailor-made adventures customized by local travel experts. “You show up at the airport to pick up your car rental only to realize you need to pay extra for GPS navigation, special insurance and other fees.”
Other common upsells include tank fill-up and upgrades to roomier cars. Always check out the website ahead of time, and read the fine print before signing the rental contract.
6. Hotel Parking
In Las Vegas, free parking has long been a mainstay. But MGM resorts announced last year it would start charging for parking at its Sin City properties, including the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and Excalibur. Currently, the prices self-parking can cost as much as $15 per day, depending on the property. And in areas like Boston and Fort Lauderdale, self-serve parking at hotels can cost as much as $45 per day.
To avoid these fees, choose a hotel with free or low-cost self-parking. Or, park in a nearby municipal lot to minimize this travel expense.
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7. Other Parking
When renting a car, “a lot of people forget to budget in the cost of parking, particularly in city centers, which can run as high as $50 a day for a safe place to park a rental,” said Roshni Agarwal, co-founder of The Vacation Hunt, a travel company specializing in surprise vacations.
Google the average parking costs for your destination before leaving home to avoid busting your budget. In some cities, you might be able to use an app like ParkMe to prepay and reserve a spot for less.
8. Transportation to Another City
Perhaps your trip to a city includes a short getaway to another nearby city. So, you’ve rented a car to get you from Point A to Point B. However, that might cost you a few hundred dollars, plus the cost of gas. So, make sure you create a budget.
Fortunately, there’s a way you can save money on transportation costs. Instead of renting a car, check out cheaper transportation options like Megabus, which is available in approximately 100 cities across North America. Let’s say you’re visiting Los Angeles but want to also visit Las Vegas during your trip. A quick search on Megabus showed ticket prices in late July for under $30. Plus, the service offers a $5 discount for students, as well as $1 tickets on select routes.
9. Valet Parking Tips
When you go on vacation, bring enough money for tips. For example, you should tip your valet attendant anywhere from $2 to $5 when he brings your vehicle. If you’re staying multiple nights at a hotel and taking your car in and out, tip every time you get your car. Forget something or have a special needs passenger? Tip the valet parking attendant more.
10. Tipping at Restaurants
When you’re on vacation, you’re probably going to eat out more often than you eat in. In addition to meal costs, don’t forget about tipping your servers.
Unless you eat at a restaurant that has eliminated tipping or the service was poor, plan to leave your server a 15 percent to 20 percent tip. Some restaurants might also add an automatic gratuity of 15 percent or more for parties of six or more, so read your bill carefully to determine whether you’ve already been charged.
However, also be aware that tipping customs vary in different countries. Before you go on your trip, research tipping practices in your destination and make sure you bring enough cash.
11. Tipping Housekeepers
Don’t forget you’ll need to tip the hard working and undervalued housekeepers in your hotel. It’s recommended that you tip daily rather than leaving one large tip on your last day to ensure the housekeeper who cleaned your room gets paid.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Gratuity Guide suggests $1 to $5 per day. Forget your toothbrush or something else and need a special delivery? Don’t forget to tip the delivery person at least $1.
12. ATM Fees
Withdrawing money on your vacation at the airport or your hotel can cost upwards of $5 per transaction or more, depending on your card provider. To avoid and prepare for these travel expenses, check out your bank’s ATMs in your network. Before your trip, you might want to switch to a bank that doesn’t charge ATM fees.
13. Foreign Transaction Fees
“If you vacation outside of the United States, an expense that few people consider is the foreign transaction fee that most credit cards charge,” said Adam Jusko, founder and CEO of Credit Card Catalog, an independent, advertising-supported service featuring various credit cards. “If your card charges it, you’ll usually pay 3 percent extra on anything you buy with your card.”
The best way to avoid this travel expense is to find a card with no foreign transaction fees.
While it’s true that alcohol can be cheaper than water in some places, it’s still a cost people often overlook, said Agarwal. “This expense can vary a lot if vacationers are getting drinks with dinner or going out to party in the evenings. A traveler might budget anywhere from $15 to $100 per person, per day for this.”
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15. Entry or Exit Fees
This surprising travel expense occurs when you depart a country, and sometimes during a layover. Exit fees range from $14 to $100, with an average of $26.77, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Fifty-six countries charge entry or exit fees.
16. Cruise Service Fees and Port Charges
Sailing on a cruise ship can make you feel like you’re royalty — that is, until you get the bill and see hundreds of dollars in added taxes, port fees and gratuities. If you do not prepay gratuities, most non-luxury cruise lines automatically add tips of $12 to $16 per person, per day, to your account depending on cabin type, according to Cruise Critic. The good news? If the service is sub par, you can ask for a refund.
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17. Data and Roaming Fees
What’s a vacation without a smartphone to snap photos, take videos and Instagram it all? Whatever the use, smartphones are must-have travel tools. Just make sure you know the cost of using it, especially while traveling internationally.
“For example, 90 MB can cost you $1,400 when roaming in Morocco,” said Buri. “It’s a good idea to check out your local carrier’s packages for international packages before you depart — many have a wide coverage of countries.”
18. Forgotten Toiletries
If you’re on a cruise or visiting a resort, the gift shop generally charges much higher prices for basic items compared to drugstore prices back home.
“So, if you find yourself packing in a rush the night before and you forget something important, you could end up paying three times as much,” said Agarwal. “For example, Dramamine, for motion sickness, is less than $5 at home, but on a recent trip we saw the resort offering it for $15.”
19. Promotional Fees
When Terri Huggins, a freelance writer, traveled to Niagara Falls she paid a “promotional fee” for every service, beverage and meal. Formally known as the DMF, the controversial fee is an initiative to support regional tourism marketing.
“This fee was on top of the typical tax and gratuity,” said Huggins. “From what I recall, it was 10 percent of every purchase.” She learned later the fee is optional.
“What’s upsetting is that this promotional fee is not even monitored or governed by any higher party group,” she said. “It was definitely an overlooked travel expense that ended up eating up a lot of my budget.”
20. WiFi Fees
The price of airborne WiFi varies depending on the package purchased, but it can range from $5 to $15 per day. Check before you leave to see if your flight offers free WiFi, or look for the symbol on your boarding pass.
Some hotels also charge for WiFi. In fact, some chains will charge this unless you become a member of a rewards program or book direct. Before you check in, review your hotel’s WiFi plans to avoid any surprises.
21. Unknown Fines
There are some travel destinations where you might incur a fine that you had no idea existed. For example, frolicking in the famous fountains in Italy might result in a fat fine of up to $270, reports Reuters. And hogging beach spots in Italy might lead to a $220 fine, CNN reported in August. And in Paris, urinating on the street will cost you a $75 fine, reports the New York Times. Before you leave, check the news to see if there are any fines you need to know about.