Vacations always cost more than you think — even if YOU sign up for one of those “all-inclusive” deals.
By now, most of us are accustomed to all the airline fees, from extra legroom and exit-row seating to in-flight entertainment, in-flight meals, extra checked luggage and now, apparently, luggage of any kind.
But there are a ton of hidden costs that even the adult Girl Scouts among us, who plan for everything, didn’t see coming.
“Every traveler wants to stretch their vacation dollars as far as possible — and sometimes, unexpected costs can have just the opposite effect!” said Amelie Hurst, a spokesperson for travel-booking site TripAdvisor.com. “ It’s well worth doing a little homework before your trip; tally up everything from baggage fees to hotel wi-fi costs, to avoid any unwanted surprises and establish a realistic budget.”
Before you ask someone to pop a little umbrella in your drink, check out these hidden costs of vacation.
By Cindy Perman
Posted 13 April 2011
By now, it’s common knowledge that a lot of companies are saving money by using automated phone systems but some airlines are now charging what some travel agents are calling “real-person fees.”
In other words, it’s going to cost you extra if you want to book your trip through a human!
To book over the phone (versus online without the human contact) now costs an extra $5 to $25 with most airlines and some are even thinking of extending this to include talking to a human at the airport (versus a digital kiosk).
Well, it was nice knowing you.
So you think you’re saving money by booking a cheaper hotel that’s not right on the beach?
Sometimes that holds true but it can also mean extra expenses to get to the beach, including car rental, parking or cab fare and beach passes.
Beach passes and parking are usually under $10 but spend that over multiple days of a vacation and multiple family members and it can add up.
And, whether or not your hotel has a beach, you’re also going to pay to rent items such as umbrellas, chairs, towels and floating pool toys.
This is a big one when it comes to all-inclusive deals at resorts or on cruise ships. You see a fixed price that includes food but what you don’t realize is that alcohol, and in some cases soft drinks and bottled water, may not be included.
Some all-inclusive plans may just include water, tea, lemonade and coffee and you have to pay extra for alcohol in soda. Or, in some cases, such as with a colleague’s recent trip to Disney World, even if you do get a meal plan that you think includes everything, soda or bottled water could be considered a “snack,” so by early afternoon, you could possibly have used up your snack budget for the day and, you guessed it, have to pay cash for additional items.
A good tip is to find a local convenient store where you can buy any of these items that are not included — a six-pack of soda, a case of bottled water, etc.
So many hotels are charging guests for Internet access nowadays, The Economists’ “Gulliver” business-travel blog declared, “Internet is the new breakfast.”
You can expect to pay anywhere from $10 to $20 or more a day for Internet access and, as one Economist writer found, that can be PER computer, which gets pretty pricey in the age of iPhones and iPads.
One way to avoid such fees is to find a Starbucks or café near your hotel that offers free Internet access.
Attention cruisers: If you think that “total” dollar amount they give you when you book a cruise is your final total, think again.
In order to load and unload 6,000 or more passengers on a cruise ship, complete with paperwork processing and all if it involves travel to foreign countries, it takes a pretty big port and a big staff. Plus, there’s the little matter of parking a giant boat. You know how much it costs to park a car somewhere, imagine how much it costs to park a giant cruise ship?
As a result, ports will often charge $20 per person per day for the port fee and taxes, which can add up over the course of a 7 or 14 day cruise.
When booking a trip, you imagine the hotel, the beach, the sights. But what you may forget is that seeing the sights will cost money.
You’re probably not going to climb a volcano or go scuba diving on your own. You’re more likely to go with a guided tour and that can run you $40 to $90 or more per person.
One way to get a better grip on your budget is to book your excursions in advance — that will not only help prepare you for the added expense but also compare prices online and look for any coupons.
Traveling alone can be just as rewarding — if not more — than traveling with a friend or loved one.
The only caveat is, it could cost you more, cautions Tammy Weiler, president of Fun and Adventure for Single Travels International. Particularly if you’re taking a cruise, where many ships will charge you extra for solo cabins. Though NCLs’ Norwegian Epic is pioneering the idea of solo cabins, which are smaller but more affordable.
If you are going solo, it pays to check in advance if there are any extra fees. And, it’s not a bad idea to go with a singles group tour — you’re not obligated to any one person but there are other people in the same boat, traveling alone, if you need some company.
Vacation meals can get pretty pricey, which means the tips should be big, too, and most of don’t think about tips until the last minute.
Some hotels, restaurants and cruises will charge you in advance for the tips, not leaving it to chance. It’s important to check your bill — otherwise, you could wind up paying double tips.
I mean, the service was great and all, but not double-tip great!
Let the tourist beware: You can bring your camera just about everywhere, but some monuments, museums and churches in Europe and Asia will charge you a few extra dollars to bring your camera in, in addition to the entrance fee everyone has to pay.
The Taj Mahal in India, for example, charges a camera fee, as does St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice.
Airlines and hotels are getting stingier with their refund policies these days, so travel insurance is looking more and more like a necessity than an optional amenity, particularly if you’re spending more than $1,000 on a trip.
It’s usually about 5 to 8 percent of the cost of the trip, according to TripInsuranceStore.comand it covers everything from medical emergencies that your existing insurance doesn’t cover, to emergency evacuation, a layoff from your job, if the travel supplier goes out of business and lost/stolen/damaged luggage.
Plus, it covers things you might’ve thought were already covered like a terrorist attack or plane crash, according to the site.