7 Common Expenses That Take Travelers by Surprise

August 30, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Atlantis Resort - Bahamas

Atlantis Resort – Bahamas (Photo credit: derekskey)

You may have budgeted carefully for your next trip, but there’s a good chance you’ll still be surprised by a few of the
unexpected expenses you encounter. A great Budget Travel article, reprinted on CNN’s website, mentioned a bunch of those expenses and explained what they are.

There really isn’t much you can do about these fees except know what they are — knowing is half the battle, after all — and grouse about them to your friends and colleagues. Here’s a look at those seven shockers:

1. Visa Fees

If you’re traveling to a foreign country, there’s a good chance you’ll need a visa. The costs can vary, but places like China and Brazil charge more than $100. Check in with the country’s consulate for costs, and be sure to give yourself plenty of time for your visa to come in — or you’ll pay extra to expedite it, too.

2. Departure Taxes

International flights, in addition to the other secret fees few know anything about, also include a tax just to leave the country, especially if you’re traveling from the Caribbean and South America. The CNN article says those taxes can go to fund things like airport construction work, road work, and water and sewage system maintenance.

3. Resort Fees

CNN calls these the most hated fees among travelers. Sometimes a flat fee and sometimes a percentage of the room rate, resort fees include things travelers often assume come for free, like towels at the pool or that daily newspaper outside the door. (You know, the one you step over on your way out?)

Some hotels include gym access and wireless internet in their resort fees, which you can’t sweet talk your way out of even if you don’t plan to use the services they cover.

4. Cruise Gratuities

Major cruise lines charge anywhere from $10 to $12 per person, per day, in gratuities alone. If you’re on a 10-day Caribbean cruise and have already been buying drinks and splurging on extras left and right, you’ll be even more stunned when hundreds of dollars in gratuity shows up on your final bill.

CNN notes that though the charges seem mandatory, you can take it up with the ship’s purser in person to adjust the gratuity, up or down, if you think you’ve received better or worse service than the rate indicates.

5. Baggage Fees

Need we say more? Baggage fees are killer, and rarely an actual shock, but it takes our breath away every time all the same. These fees are changing all the time, and usually not for the better — we’re all for carrying our bags onto the plane whenever possible. Failing that, be sure to do your research beforehand to find a carrier with reasonable baggage fees and fares to match.

6. Money Exchange

Especially if you plan on hitting smaller towns with mom-and-pop shops and restaurants, it’s always a good idea to visit a major ATM before you leave the city. They usually offer the best exchange rates and less hassle than a foreign exchange, too.

7. Foreign Transaction Fees for Airline Tickets

If you’re booking an international flight on a foreign carrier, you might want to find another flight or consider booking a code-share flight from a domestic partner airline — your credit card company could levy a foreign transaction fee for booking with British Airways, Air France or another foreign-based international carrier.

You can also use a credit card that doesn’t charge those fees, like Capital One. But your safest bet is just to book with an American carrier.

  • 7 common expenses that take travelers by surprise (cnn.com)
  • Watch out for new hidden hotel fee (newsnet5.com)
  • Hotels expected to fetch $1.95 billion in fees (travel.usatoday.com)
  • 10 most annoying hotel fees (travel.usatoday.com)

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