6 Travel Fees and Costs You Can Easily Avoid
We all know that the cost of travel can get pricey. If your goal for 2020 is to travel more, you’ll want to watch your budget, maybe plug in some ideas on a travel calculator, and be aware of any unexpected fees. Otherwise, they’ll likely start stacking up in an undesirable way. Here are six travel fees and costs you can easily avoid with a little bit of effort.
Checked Bag Fees
On average, checked luggage bag fees run about $25 or $30 per bag. If it’s just you flying by yourself, you might be fine with paying that amount. But if you start flying on a regular basis, that cost begins adding up. Flying twice in a month? You just easily spent $120 extra on getting your bag to your destinations. That’s $120 that could’ve been used on an extra hotel night instead.
It can be even worse if you’re traveling with family. After everyone checks a bag (or gets charged for a carry-on, depending on the airline), you could be looking at hundreds of dollars extra spent per trip.
To avoid luggage bag fees either avoid checking bags altogether (you might be surprised at how much you can fit into a carry-on) or look for ways to check a bag for free. For instance, Southwest doesn’t charge a fee for your first two checked bags. Or, you can use a travel credit card. The United Explorer card, for example, gives you free bags on United.
And the perks of a travel credit card don’t end with free checked bags. Some credit cards make it easy to achieve first-class travel more often. If that sounds appealing to you, check out this guide for using credit cards for first-class flights and see which makes the most sense for you.
This can be an annoying one to avoid. More and more hotels — whether they’re a resort or not — are charging resort fees. Go to just about any hotel in New York City and you’ll see it stamped on the bottom of your bill, sometimes up to $50 or even $70 per night. Suddenly, the great hotel rate you found doesn’t seem so great.
There’s been a general outcry among the travel community regarding these resort fees, as they’re mandatory and don’t really offer anything extra. But in case these extra fees don’t go away anytime soon, do your part by choosing to stay at hotels that do not charge a resort fee. It may require you to do a little extra digging for the right hotel, but you’ll save a large chunk of money by doing so.
Airline Seat Selection Fees
The easiest way to avoid this travel fee? Simply don’t do it. Don’t select your seat on your flight ahead of time (unless you’re flying economy, business, or first-class and your ticket comes with seat selection). Yes, if you have a long international flight it may be important to you to sit near your partner or family. But if you’re only flying for a few hours, save the extra cash, turn on some music or a movie, sit back, close your eyes and relax until your flight is over.
International Roaming Fees
Staying in touch while traveling internationally was at one time a huge headache, but not so much anymore. Just about anywhere in the world, you can expect an acceptable level of cell and data service. But, be sure to check if it will cost you. Without the proper phone plan, you may end up paying around $1 for every minute you talk on a call, text message you send, and unit of data you use up.
Before traveling anywhere internationally, look at your phone carrier’s international plan. What is and isn’t included? If it absolutely doesn’t offer you anything for free, you might want to consider leaving your phone on airplane mode for the duration of your trip and simply operating off of WiFi when possible.
But, if you’ve been thinking of switching cell phone providers anyway, be on the lookout for carriers who offer desirable international plans. Some even offer free data (not high-speed, but still data) and texting while abroad, with charges only applying to phone calls.
Another surprise travel fee that might hit you while traveling abroad? ATM fees. Stop paying $5 or more every time you withdraw cash while traveling. If you don’t have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees or banking account that allows for free out-of-network withdrawals, then get your cash as cash back when making a purchase at a store.
Or go to your bank ahead of your travels and take out some cash in your desired currency. These little things can help you stay on budget.
Annual Credit Card Fees
Lastly, if you’re paying an annual fee for a travel credit card, take a good hard look at whether or not that card is providing you with a value equal to or greater than the cost of that fee. Some travel cards are well worth their annual fee, especially if they come with free checked baggage, lounge entry, and other perks that are around the same cost.
But if you’re not using these perks, or if you’re using perks from a different card instead, consider skipping the annual fee and closing your account.