The hardest part of planning a vacation is managing the budget. With hotels and airlines out there to squeeze every penny, it isn’t easy to manage your trip costs. The burden of extra costs always makes my head swoon, and I have found myself paying more than I expected because of these hidden travel costs.
Imagine having a cup of coffee with a nominal price that attracts you to buy it. Then they ask you for add-ons if you want milk, chocolate, sugar, flavors, etc. and put separate charges for each. Finally, the total bill is almost double the amount you knew at first. That’s the same thing that happens with airlines and hotels. Well, this was the nearest example I could think of to explain to you the entire scenario. It is either the baggage charge, dining cost, or some charges added to the hotel bills that rip off my pocket almost.
Thankfully, with time and experience, I have somehow understood the nature of these hidden costs. I also realized that structured planning about the budget after a detailed study could save your pocket.
- The perils of hidden travel costs in Airlines
- Baggage charges
- What are the mistakes you make and what should you do?
- Best ways to save unwanted accommodation charges
- The reality about car rental fees
- Will the pandemic help you negotiate the extra costs in your bill?
- Final Words
- Like this? You’ll surely love these:
According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airlines earned up to 7.5 billion dollars just out of baggage fees and airline ticket changing charges. Isn’t that jaw-dropping? From my personal experience, I can tell you that I have seen the ticket price soar up to double the amount after adding the baggage charge. I wasn’t exactly packing my entire house into my luggage, but it ripped my pocket, nevertheless.
Traveling by air is the most expensive part of any trip, but it’s unavoidable too. I did a bit of homework here to find out how we pay for these hidden travel costs every time we fly.
Different airlines have different rules regarding baggage charges. Some charge for checked luggage, too, while some charge you for personal belongings. Be sure to check the charges and fees airlines may charge you.
Check Airlines Baggage Fees and Policy.
- Delta Air
- Cathay Pacific
- Ryanair 
- Lufthansa 
- Sun Country [2021 Update]
- EasyJet 
- Hawaiian Airlines [2021 Update]
- Spirit Airlines (2020 Update)
- United 2020
What are the mistakes you make and what should you do?
The best option is to travel light. I have gained this knowledge from my traveling experience that light baggage saves you almost everywhere. Pack only the things you need and carry only the essentials this will avoid any hidden travel costs that airlines may charge you
Before you purchase a ticket, check the travel and baggage information on the concerned airlines’ website. In this section, you can understand the charges for the number of bags you can check, or whether upgrading the ticket will be a better thing.
One mistake people do while traveling is checking the bag at the airport. Trust me on this; it makes you pay more. I find it always cheaper to check the bag during the ticket purchase. I can then pack accordingly and organize my luggage. Either pay for the luggage at the time of booking or add it before you travel to get the best deals. People are charged much more when the baggage isn’t included in the ticket.
Lastly, be very clear about the handbag rules too. If you stuff too much inside, the airport attendant may charge you a massive fee for the carry-on. Low-cost carriers usually have hidden travel costs for carry-on baggage. Know each detail about the baggage rules. Pack and weigh accordingly after knowing the size and weight limits. This helps to save the surcharge money. (see our list of recommended carry-on bags and backpacks)
Experts also suggest that if you have to travel very frequently, it is better to use an airline-branded credit card to get better prices and enjoy one free checked bag. But never forget to read the terms and conditions.
Do not wait to reach the airport and then print your boarding pass. Low-cost carriers will especially charge you a fee for that. I was flying by Ryanair once and hadn’t printed the boarding pass at home. It was a complete facepalm moment when I had to pay $60 to check in and around $30 to print the boarding pass. I was lucky I was at least alone and not traveling with my family. Talk about expensive hidden travel costs
Therefore, I would always recommend travelers to complete all these formalities at home. Download the boarding pass on your phones or get them printed before you reach the airport.
You probably know by now how dubious these seating charges are. You buy yourself a ticket, and then they make you pay more to select your seat. Always check whether the seat is inclusive in the ticket. If it is not, then check the desirability of the seat you wish to buy.
Also, try your luck at the airport and see if there is a seat upgrade available without any added charge.
Once, I found a package online to buy the seats and check in the baggage at a combined price. To my surprise, the combined charge was pretty less than individual charges, and it was quite a saving. Moreover, you can also make a free choice in seats during the last 48 hours before boarding. However, that leaves you with lesser options.
Ticket changes and cancellation
Another hidden travel costs airlines charge you is ticket changes and cancellations.
Airlines charge you a fee that’s nearly your ticket fare if you wish to change travel dates. Either you have to be very sure of your dates or book a flight on a carrier that doesn’t charge extra fees for change. In the U.S., airlines allow travelers to change the ticket or cancel it for free within one day of purchasing it.
I was once elated about meal service included on the ticket to find that I need to pay for it. Those are the times you are quite helpless. Check what your airline has to say about meal charges on long flights. Most of the budget airlines charge for everything you want to eat (especially with Economy class tickets). I would suggest eating at the airport even if it sounds overpriced or anywhere before your check-in if you have time.
Sometimes, you have to pay extra for movies, Wi-Fi, and headphones if it’s not included in your ticket. At times, these are discreet charges you end up paying while selecting a ticket. Do not pay for them if you intend to sleep or have some important work on the flight.
Some airlines include travel insurance on the total cost, and it’s so discreet that it takes quite a lot of concentration to find that out. De-select the insurance cost to avoid paying for it.
Airport Parking Fees
Check whether the parking fees are on a per-day basis or weekly. If they have weekly charges, you have to pay for the entire week, even if your car stays parked for a day.
Best ways to save unwanted accommodation charges
It’s an irony that you have to pay more for the essential things in life. Similarly, while traveling, the accommodation costs is will break you. Hotels charge you a lot of extra fees as add-ons. Watch these out, and you will know the tricks to cut costs.
Resorts have the most deceptive charges, and the ones listed on comparison websites are often just room rates. Once you fall for low room rates, there will be a series of add-ons doubling the price. Thus, even if you are not using the laundry or other facilities, you may be paying for it under the services and taxes. Be very sure about what exactly you are paying for and refuse to pay for things you won’t be using.
Alternatively, the best way to avoid resort fees is to avoid them. Yes, they look posh and expensive, but they invariably burn a hole in the pocket.
Whenever I have traveled alone, I have put up at hostels or homestays and have always found them better. They have lesser services but are more warm and homely. I have always received remarkable hospitality and made new friends from people all over the world. It’s good to mix with fellow travelers there and share anecdotes and experiences. Hostels can offer private rooms, too, at times. You can also try homestay options for AirBnBs.
Some hotels have mandatory housekeeping fees, while others expect you to leave a tip for it while checking out. If you haven’t received housekeeping services, do not pay for it.
Check parking fees
Some hotels do not mention parking fees while booking a room. When you drive into a hotel, it is difficult to avoid the charges. In case a hotel does not mention these clearly, call them up and enquire about these small but significant add-on charges.
Early check-in and late check-out fees
Hotels these days want you to be precisely on time. I never knew I had to be so punctual while checking in and out of a hotel. Earlier, when I used to travel, I could check-in to the room if it was ready without any problem. Nowadays, they charge extra if you are early. This happened on my last trip to the U.S. as I was there before time. Leave your bags and wait until the check-in time to avoid these fees. Also, be very sure about the check-out time to avoid paying more when you leave the hotel.
Some hotels offer you free Wi-Fi with your room rates, while others expect you to pay for it. Know the rules if you cannot do it without Wi-Fi. Some hotels also let you use it for free when you directly book a room rather than using third-party booking services. If you feel that you would be traveling most of the time and can use your mobile data based on your traveling location, avoid paying for Wi-Fi.
Avoid the minibar inside the room as they come with a hefty charge. Every time I go to a new city, I prefer walking down the streets and buying myself a drink. That’s a great way to explore a new place without paying mindless charges.
Towels and laundry
Another hidden travel costs I discovered are for extra toiletry. Some hotels might even charge you for towels, soap, and laundry services.
If you are not sure that you are getting them for free, carry a mini bath kit with you. I always prefer carrying a few essential garments, a tiny bottle of body wash, detergent, and a towel in my travel bag. Pack things wisely and use the detergent to hand wash garments if you at all need to. It saves a lot of unwanted costs.
Phone calls from the hotel
Making a call from the hotel room may cost a considerable amount. Avoid making such indulgent calls and try getting local SIM cards for a much cheaper rate. Or else, if you are paying for the Wi-Fi or having it for free, use it to make internet calls.
The reality about car rental fees
Whenever I am traveling, I do a bit of homework to understand the public transport charges of the city I am heading to. Often, I have seen that taxi and bus rates help me save more than renting a car. I have switched to public transport on the last trips to Boston and Seattle and made significant savings. However, posh cities have expensive transport costs, and renting a car is wise.
Here are some tips for you to save costs on car rentals
Share the car with a fellow traveler if you manage to befriend someone with a similar itinerary.
Make sure you know the details about insurance policies while renting the car. These are often very expensive and unnecessary if your own insurance already covers that.
Never lose the car keys if you do not wish to pay a wholesome amount from your pocket. A friend once did that, and it left him broke. Do everything to keep the keys safe.
The rental companies often charge you more if you do not return the car with a full tank. I have also had offers from rentals to refill the fuel tank at a so-called nominal rate. But I always prefer filling it myself at a gas station at a cheaper rate than the ‘nominal’ charge.
Will the pandemic help you negotiate the extra costs in your bill?
The present pandemic situation is a set of mixed cards for travelers. In some cases, you have a lot of benefits and open windows to negotiate the extra costs. On the other hand, transportation charges will soar up due to the extra cost of sanitization. That is one added charge you have to pay at this moment. However, car rentals may be considerate enough to offer a discount to get people traveling again.
However, the pandemic has hit the hoteliers hard.
Even small hostels for travelers have borne the brunt of the situation. With fewer travelers flying into the tourist spots, many of them have shut their services.
Therefore, going by the hard times I feel, hotels and resorts are bound to cuts on their prices or reduce certain add-on services. T
hey may also offer discounts and packages on future bookings at the moment, as I have previously seen in cities hit by a low inflow of travelers due to attacks or natural calamities. You can also get packages that offer free pickup or drop to the airport in a sanitized car on booking a room.
Such added benefits and combo offers at this moment will surely be beneficial if you want to cut down travel costs. However, some hotels may add an extra charge for room sanitization. Enquire about the costs you are incurring due to the present scenario and make the best choice.
Finally, here are my answers to some of the frequently asked questions by travelers. on how to avoid or minimize hidden travel costs:
Start by selecting a small rucksack or suitcase.
Compress and fold only the essential items to save more space in the bag.
Watch smart packing videos on the internet to master the tricks.
Limit yourself to a maximum of two pairs of jeans, and leave out bulky winter wear.
Take light, warm clothes which are easier to fold and do not increase the weight.
Wear the items you can while traveling so that you have to pack less.
Go to the concerned airlines’ websites on your route and read their baggage instructions, terms, and conditions very carefully before purchasing the ticket.
Read blogs about the places you are traveling to. You can surely get contact details of travelers’ hostels and homestays at cheaper rates than hotels. Try contacting them with little background research to have the best deals and a great experience.
Very often, these third-party sites list the best prices for the rooms. However, they do not include additional charges, which can increase the final rates. I have faced that very often and had a frustrating experience. Even if you book through those sites, always check about the added costs charged by the resort. At times, I have seen that direct booking gave me better offers and services at a lesser rate. It depends from hotel to hotel, and experience and homework can only save your money here.
More than often, you may feel that paying a dollar or two extra won’t be a big deal. However, you may find that you have paid quite a lot here and there and exceeded your budget at the end of the trip. As a fellow traveler, I would suggest you look into these small added costs even if they seem negligible. Over the years, I have found that saving such small costs at each step helped me to accomplish a great budget very well within my estimated budget.