You’ve been planning your vacation for months, and you think you’ve got the budget all set. Then BAM! – something unexpected comes up and all your frugal planning seems to go out the window.
Don’t let this happen to you. With a little planning beforehand, you can usually avoid most of the unexpected travel costs that tend to come up during a trip. It doesn’t matter what the destination is; the important thing is to think ahead and have a plan that will help you stay on your budget throughout your vacation.
Sure, you know exactly how much you’re spending on airfare. But have you considered how much your trips to and from the airport will cost you? Whether you’re paying for airport parking, hopping on a shuttle or taking a taxi, it’s worth figuring out just how much you’ll spend to get where you need to go.
A $30 one-way taxi ride to get to and from each airport really adds up to $120 at the end of the trip! Do your research to see if you can find ways to save. For example, you could use public transportation or a car sharing service to get to and from the airport for less. If you’ll be visiting a major city, consider how much you’ll save by staying somewhere within walking distance of main attractions. If you’ll need other means to get around, find out whether a public transportation pass will save money over buying individual rides.
Simply choosing the cheapest hotel in the area isn’t always the best plan when it comes to booking accommodations. You’ll need to take a closer look at all the amenities and fees at the hotel to decide if it’s really the best deal. For example, parking can be a major bummer for your budget if you don’t factor it in. In large cities, you might pay $30 a day or more to park your own car on site! Paying $10 more per night for a room at a hotel with free parking is obviously worth it in this case.
Other fees associated with hotel amenities can be less obvious. For example, is Wi-Fi included in your room or will you need to pay an extra fee? Internet access can be seriously helpful for out-of-town visitors, so think about that when booking a room. Is there a complimentary breakfast each morning? If not, you’ll need to factor in extra money for each day of the trip in order to purchase breakfast on your own.
Phone & Bank Charges
When you go out of the country, you probably know what the exchange rate is and have factored that into your budget. But don’t forget think about how your international travel could result in added fees from some of the services you rely on. First, make sure you find out whether you’ll be charged extra for using your phone out of the country. Mobile roaming charges can add up fast, so you might want to purchase a different plan or avoid phone calls unless it’s an emergency while traveling.
Your bank can also come up with fees when you travel out of the country. Some charge extra for ATM withdrawals where you’ll be receiving a different currency. Oh and don’t forget to alert your bank you’ll be traveling internationally or you might even have a hold placed on your card as part of the bank’s fraud protection services.
Here’s the biggest surprise that might make you lose a lot of money: having to cancel your trip entirely. This is a worst-case scenario, to be sure, but it’s one that every traveler should consider. There are a number of reasons that you might need to back out of a planned vacation, so it’s important to consider the likelihood of each one actually happening. If you think there’s a chance you might not end up going, you’ll want to get travel insurance to cover the upfront expenses you’ve already paid.
So what does travel insurance do? Basically, this type of insurance reimburses you for some or all of the travel costs you’ve spent if for some reason the trip does not occur. For example, did you plan your tropical vacay during hurricane season? Are you flying out of Chicago in the dead of winter when a snowstorm could potentially a serious delay? Do you have an ill parent who could possibly require your care at the last minute? Be sure to evaluate what the insurance covers before buying it and weigh the costs of insurance against the total cost of the trip. While it’s not practical for all types of travel, it may be a smart choice if you want to protect your investment. Also, check with your credit card company first – they may already offer you some type of travel insurance coverage.
Now that you know what to look for, make sure to factor these costs into your travel budget. You’ll find that it helps to remain frugal while traveling rather than being hit with an unexpected expense.