As the calendar turns to spring, countless Americans are no doubt planning vacations, from spring break all the way to year-end holiday travel and beyond.
After two years of restricted or non-existent travel thanks to the pandemic, budgets are likely to swell this year. If you find yourself in this category, don’t forget to factor in the added costs that are associated with travel, as they may push your budget over its limit if you don’t account for them. Here are some of the most common extra travel costs you’re probably forgetting about, particularly if you haven’t been traveling lately.
Generally speaking, travelers think of airfare and lodging as their two biggest travel expenses, but ground transportation is often overlooked and can be extremely costly, particularly on international trips.
If you’re paying $1,000 to fly round trip to Paris, for example, you might think that whatever it costs for the final leg to your hotel will seem negligible by comparison. But, if you think you’re just going to hop into a cheap cab for an easy ride to your hotel, think again. The average price for that ride will be 50 to 60 euros, and perhaps as much as double if you encounter traffic — or if fuel prices continue to rise.
That could tack on as much as $263 to your travel budget just for a round trip to and from the airport. The same is true in London and many other cities around the globe. Note that you can save a bundle if you’re willing to take trains and subways from major global airports to city centers.
Also Remember: 25 Extra Grocery Costs You’re Probably Forgetting About
Most airlines used to offer free bags for travelers, but that is no longer the case. Even on a domestic itinerary, you might have to pay $70 round trip for a single bag, making a trip for a family of four with two bags each costing a whopping $560.
There are ways around bag fees — Southwest, for example, still offers two free bags per customer, and elite status with airlines or the right credit cards may get you some free bags as well. But be aware that if you don’t plan ahead, you could get stuck with some hefty baggage charges.
Foreign Transaction Fees
If you travel abroad, vendors may ask you if you want to pay in dollars or the local currency. If you pay in dollars, you’ll absorb what’s usually a sizable currency conversion fee. If you pay in the local currency, your credit card might charge you a foreign transaction fee of 3% or more.
If you spend $10,000 on a trip, that could end up costing you $300 or more in extra, unnecessary fees. If you’re traveling overseas, see whether your credit card company will charge you this fee; if so, consider getting a new card with no foreign transaction fees.
The Great American Road Trip is one of the classic ways to vacation in the U.S.; but, depending on how far you go, the cost of gas can eat up a significant portion of your budget. This is especially true in 2022, as already-rising gas prices have skyrocketed due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In some states, like California, you may find yourself paying over $6 just for a gallon of regular gasoline. So, if you’re planning on traveling from the South to the West Coast, brace yourself for some gasoline sticker shock. A 2,000-mile road trip at those prices could end up costing you $400 or more just in gas.
Hotel resort fees used to be sneaky, annoying add-ons that true resorts would tack on to the cost of a hotel room. Nowadays, resort fees are becoming commonplace, particularly in places like Las Vegas. Nearly every Las Vegas Strip hotel now charges at least $30 per night. Some, like the Wynn, charge a whopping $45, plus tax.
Many other hotels around the country, especially in popular destinations, also charge such fees, so be on the lookout for them. A one-week stay at the Wynn, for example, could result in $315 in extra fees, plus taxes, all in addition to your regular lodging rate.
Seat Selection Fees
Airline seats are another travel cost that used to be free. Although you don’t have to pay to pick your seat, if you don’t, you may end up in a middle seat, by the lavatory and/or away from your travel companions.
Domestic seat selection can cost anywhere from $10 to $50, while international flights can charge $100 or more for prime seat locations. If you’re traveling with a family of four, this could translate to literally hundreds of dollars in extra fees just to ensure you aren’t saddled with bad seats.
Visa and/or Passport Fees
One travel expense you can avoid by staying in the U.S. is the cost of passport and/or visa fees. New or renewed passports currently cost $130 in the U.S., and many countries charge visa fees that you have to pay either before you travel or when you land. China, for example, requires a $140 visa fee for U.S. citizens, and even Australia has a $20 charge.
The bottom line is that a family of four getting new passports and Chinese visas could end up paying over $1,000 just to get their documentation in order, a cost that many travelers may overlook when initially planning their vacation.
Increased Cost of Food and Restaurants
Unless you’re going on a camping trip, you may not be planning on cooking a lot when you go on vacation. With the exception of the occasional breakfast or easy meal, most Americans tend to dine out when they travel.
What many are unprepared for is that the cost of eating out can be a lot more than what they are used to at home, particularly if they travel overseas. In Europe, for example, you might pay $6 for a soda or even $20 for a McDonald’s combo. Other countries may offer cheaper food but more expensive drinks.
In any event, eating out nearly anywhere in the world, even across the U.S., is generally more expensive than eating at home. If you rarely dine out at home, you might be surprised at how high the added expense of dining out really is.
Whether you’re on a cruise or traveling to a location for the first time, you’re likely to be interested in taking some excursions or group tours. These tours typically offer amazing experiences, but they often come at a significant cost. If you plan on doing them every day of your vacation, especially if you have a family, the cost can quickly run away from you.
Tour operators also have excellent salesmanship and understand that if you’re on vacation, it’s easy to fall prey to upselling. You may start out looking for a simple walking tour of a local area and end up walking out the door having booked a helicopter glacier tour that includes visiting sled dogs, watching bears and eating salmon in a remote waterside cabin that’s inaccessible by land. Without careful planning and will power, excursions and tours can easily bust your travel budget.
No one ever plans on having an emergency, but they certainly happen. If you’re traveling and find yourself in any type of emergency situation, things could get expensive fast. That’s why many travel experts recommend that you purchase some type of travel insurance policy.
Emergency evacuations are rare, but they can end up costing more than $50,000. Emergency flights home also can cost thousands of dollars. On the other end of the spectrum, “emergencies” as mundane as forgetting your medications or leaving warm clothing at home also can cost you a bundle, particularly if you are in a remote or resort area. Getting the proper insurance and factoring possible emergency costs into your budget are two ways to help avoid disaster.
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