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There is a lot to think about when planning a vacation, which means your mind may not be on all of the little extra costs you encounter here and there. You are probably more focused on visiting the must-see attractions and trying some great local cuisine.
While that is understandable, it can throw your budget out of balance. Without proper planning, those seemingly small extra expenses can add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. That could leave you with high credit card bills and only compound the problem.
Hence, you should leave extra room in your budget for these common vacation and travel expenses. Doing so will help you avoid the headache of higher-than-expected expenses later down the road.
If your vacation is short, you may not have much time for off-shoot trips. However, if your trip is a little longer, or you are planning a trip to Europe for example, you may want to do a lot of exploring of the area while you are there. Sometimes there can be guided tours, or perhaps you just want to drive your rental car around the countryside. Look up the cost of tours ahead of time and map out your day trips to get an idea of the cost.
This cost goes hand in hand with the above. Again, if you plan to rent a car while at your destination, you will have to cover gas (or charging if you manage to rent a Tesla). Those costs can really add up, especially if you are driving around Europe. Gas prices can be higher depending on where you are, so be sure to look up local gas prices ahead of time.
There can be a lot of transportation options where you go. For example, if you are visiting New York City, you probably will want to take the subway because renting a car probably would just be inconvenient. While the subway is more affordable than renting a car, it can still add up, especially if you are vacationing with your family. Other ground transportation options, such as Uber and Lyft, can be pricier for each ride. Be sure to plan accordingly.
While some hotels provide complimentary breakfast in the U.S., not all of them do. Look up whether your hotel includes breakfast. If it doesn’t, you can consider staying in an Airbnb or a hotel that includes a full kitchen and buying breakfast foods at a local grocery store to save money. Either way, you’ll end up paying more if your hotel doesn’t include breakfast.
Foreign Transaction/ATM Fees
Some American credit card issuers charge fees for use outside the U.S. In addition, some banks will charge additional fees if you withdraw cash from a foreign ATM. Some banks charge fees as high as $5 just for withdrawing cash. Other banks have eliminated them, so find out whether your bank has these fees so you aren’t hit with an unwelcome surprise.
Unfavorable Exchange Rates
You probably know that each currency has a different value compared to other currencies. Fortunately, if you are an American, the U.S. dollar has a favorable exchange rate. However, some popular destinations have currencies that are usually stronger than the dollar — most notably England and European countries that use the Euro. Be aware that your dollars may not go quite as far in those places.
Also Find: 10 Best Travel Hacks To Save the Most Money
Checked Baggage Fees
If you are taking a longer trip, you might have to check one or more bags. Checked-bag fees can vary significantly depending on the airline and whether the flight is domestic or international. However, the fees can really add up, especially if you have a family flying. A family of four flying internationally can end up with hundreds of dollars in checked bag fees. Check with your airline to see how much fees will be (and consider traveling lighter if you can to avoid these fees entirely).
Resort fees are not something we often think about, but many hotels these days tack them on daily, increasing the cost of your stay. Resort fees can cover almost anything. If your hotel has them, they can run you $25 to $50 per night. Some may even charge more. Hence, you should learn whether your hotel charges these fees and include them in your budget, if needed.
Having an emergency fund is one of the basic principles of personal finance. Even though a vacation doesn’t always feel like real life, it is rarely perfect. Whether one of your favorite possessions is lost or damaged or whether you miss a flight, there are many unexpected expenses that can rear their ugly heads while you are traveling. Because these can sometimes be costly, it would be smart to have at least a few hundred dollars as part of your travel budget to cover emergency expenses. Of course, the more you have, the better.
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About the Author
Bob Haegele is a personal finance writer who specializes in topics such as investing, banking, credit cards, and real estate. His work has been featured on The Ladders, The Good Men Project, and Small Biz Daily. He also co-runs Modest Money and is a dog sitter and walker.