Don’t let hidden costs ruin your holiday.

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Holidays are something everyone looks forward to. My family loves to travel and there is always a budget we have in mind before taking the flight out.

So if ever we are suddenly burdened with additional expenses and unforeseen costs, it irks us. Which is why it’s best to do some research, and read the fine print to build some extra padding in our travel budgets, so we can tide over those pesky hidden costs without ruining our holiday?

  • Reservation

Booking a reservation for your flight or hotel online is so common place now. But whenever you may need to speak to an agent for some clarity on your booking or finding out other details such as booking attractions/car rentals they may often charge you. Much of the times this gets included in your billing as other expenses /taxes and often goes unnoticed. Make sure you know this beforehand.

Tip: Call for clarification or to ask any questions, but book online either directly with the airline or through a third-party site like Expedia or Booking.com. Just check the total price to make sure there’s no booking fee.

  • Refund

Man proposes and God disposes. So many times we have had to cancel plans last minute due to other obligations. And then you either re book or cancel the trip completely and that’s when you end up paying hefty cancellation charges which could be almost close to the actual price of your ticket.

Tip: Some OTA’s offer a 24-hour flexible booking period, during which you can get a refund or change your flight/ hotel without penalty or incurring cancellation charges.

  • Miles

Frequent flyer programs seem to offer great deals, but they’re not so great if you have to pay extra fees for your “free flight”. In addition to fuel charges and airport fees, some airlines will charge you just to use the miles.

Tip: Avoid the fee by booking early or using miles from an airline that doesn’t have time constraints.

  • Extra baggage

Often we get carried away when shopping abroad. Make sure you are within the permissible limits of weight for you checked and cabin baggage lest you end up paying a huge amount of excess baggage charges. Some carriers in the US also charge a rate of $25 upwards per piece of baggage checked in the economy class.

 Tip: Buy yourself a luggage scale to save the hassle by checking if your luggage is overweight in advance. If your luggage is already overweight then you can adjust some things in your carry on baggage before you get to the airport or take out the extra stuff you don’t need at home instead of having to deal with it at the airport.

  •  Currency exchange

Will you exchange money before you travel or use your card to get money out of the ATM when you arrive? Do your research beforehand to ensure you get the best exchange rate. Using ATM’s abroad generally always incurs extra transaction fees each time you withdraw cash. Although some credit cards charge a foreign transaction fee, its better you check with the bank beforehand.

Tip: It’s best to travel with a credit card or cash card when travelling abroad as most establishments accept credit/debit cards.

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  • Getting to and from the airport

Check if the hotel you are staying at provides pick up and drop service from /to the airport. Make sure to check if its chargeable or part of the package.

Most cities also have public transportation such as bus or train that offer a 2 or 3 or 7 day pass which can be used both for bus and train for easy accessibility.

 

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Tip: Downloading the Uber or a similar app for taxis on your smartphone is the best way to getting around in a new place.

  • Departure Fees

Most departure fees are included in your plane ticket, but not all!  There are quite a few countries that charge a departure fees even if it is not your final destination. These fees may add up quickly, especially if you are travelling to a number of places.  Find out from the airline that you are travelling with if there is any departure fees associated with your flights.

Tip: Keep some currency aside to pay for Departure tax

  • Water

Airport security is too tight to let you bring your water into the boarding area, so if you get thirsty at the gate, you can end up spending $4 or more for a bottle of water.

Have you ever noticed that vending machine prices go up after you go through security? The airport vendors know that you have limited options, and they’ll charge you accordingly. Although you can always get a complimentary beverage on the plane, but sometimes you are either too thirsty or too embaraased to ask for water often served in the small cups again and aigan

Tip: You can’t bring the water in, but an empty bottle is just fine. Pack a reusable water bottle in your carry-on bag, and fill it at a water fountain near your gate.

  • International Roaming Charges

You may or may not plan to make calls back home to family using international roaming. Ever since Whatsapp has included calling through its app it’s become very convenient to use data to make those calls . But you never know when you might need to make local calls so it’s best to take precautions.  You can save yourself a lot of time and effort and money if you contact your service provider and select a plan that allows you international roaming for calls and data use. That way you can ensure if you need to use your phone you won’t be hit with a bill that costs more than your entire holiday.

Tip: Check with your telecom service provider for rates/ plans on international roaming and buy/activate it before you leave your home country.

  • Room Service and Mini Bars

Room service and minibars are an expensive way of having the luxury of food and drink in your hotel room, some hotels have sensors in the fridge so if you even move anything you will be charged for it.  Make sure you always have a few snacks and a bottle of water (bought from the local store) in your room so you don’t get a massive mini bar bill after your stay!

Tip: Find a supermarket nearby to stock up on bottles of water/ snacks .

Hotel-minibar

  • Resort Fee

Believe it or not, many hotels will charge what is known as a “hotel resort fee” upon checkout. Often, this fee will be an extra 10% per night. Thus, even if you have already prepaid through a site like Expedia or TripAdvisor, you will have to pay an extra 10% when you checkout. It’s essentially a higher nightly rate, hidden in the fine print.

Tip: Read the fine print, and remember that all hotels must disclose this fee upon booking. Make sure to consider the fee when you decide if this hotel indeed offers a reasonable rate.

  • Tipping

Eating out at any restaurant could be extra costly depending on what country you are in, the rules relating to tipping are different and before you know it you could have spent a small fortune on service charges.

Tip: Usually anywhere between 15-20% of the bill is followed in most countries.

  • WiFi

Nobody can do without WiFi anymore. Make sure to check out the WiFi rates at your hotel while checking in. Is WiFi included in your hotel for free or is there a daily charge?  If WiFi isn’t included it might be more economical to get a data plan before hand rather than hunting around for  a free internet café or paying hefty bills on your return.

Tip: Free WiFi ranks #1 in the list of desired hotel amenities. Check out the list of amenities before you book the room. I suggest you ask your telecom service provider to suggest a plan for data roaming.

A dollar or two here may not seem like a big deal, and even a twenty dollar fee there might just sound like something you have to tolerate. But guess what? You don’t.

In the end, you can’t get out of all of these expenses, but you can adjust your planning accordingly.

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-Madhavi

 

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