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Did you see an unbelievable airfare deal? What about a travel package that seems too good to be true? The lure of a low-cost getaway can be hard to resist. We all have been tempted. Unfortunately, unexpected costs and surprise expenses can turn a dream vacation deal into a financial buzzkill. Here are some of the hidden costs of travel you should be aware of.
Beware of the super low fares advertised by budget airlines. Today most airlines are charging for checked bags, and some are even charging for carry-on bags. A carry-on bag that requires overhead bin space could cost you an extra $25 or more. TripAdvisor has a list of some baggage fees and links to the baggage fee pages on hundreds on hundreds of airlines.
Also be cautious of the size and weight of your bag. If you are planning on carrying on your bag to avoid a checked bag fee, be sure it is not over the designated size limit. If it is, you may end up having to check the bag and pay an extra charge. If a bag is over the weight limit you may also be charged. Visit the airline’s website or contact the airline to find out its specific weight and size limits.
If you are planning on carrying on your bag to avoid a checked bag fee, be sure it is not over the designated size limit. If it is, you may end up having to check the bag and pay an extra charge.
Some airlines, such as Delta, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines, do have baggage fee exemptions/waivers for active duty U.S. military personnel. Be sure to check with your airline and see if you or your dependents may be eligible for an exemption.
All seats are not created equal. Just because you saw a great fare, doesn’t mean you will get the seat you want. Many airlines bait you in with a low ticket price and then when it is time to select a seat, you’ll find that certain seats within the same section or row are more expensive. Sometimes seats up front or at the bulkhead which provides a little more legroom will cost more. If getting a particular seat is important to you, do your research to ensure that you understand how much you will be paying.
Food and drinks
Gone are the days when you could count on a free glass of juice and a bag of peanuts during your flight. Discount airlines such as Spirit and Frontier are starting to charge for snacks and non-alcoholic beverages such as juice or soft drinks.
To save money, bring your own food. Surprisingly, many types of food are allowed to be brought on the plane in your carry-on bag. You can also purchase items after you go through airport security. Of course, airport vendors are not known for being budget-friendly.
TSA rules do not allow any liquid, gel, cream, aerosol or paste greater than 3.4 ounces in your carry-on luggage so a bottle of water is a no-no. One way you can save on drinks is to bring an empty water bottle through security and then fill it up at a water fountain. Be aware that certain foods fall under the “gel, paste and cream” categories such as peanut butter, hummus, spreadable cheese and yogurt. Visit the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) website for a list of foods you can and can’t bring in your carry-on.
If you are driving to your hotel, inquire about its parking. That awesome room rate you got may not include the hefty daily fee to park in the hotel’s parking lot. If you can give up a bit of convenience, parking on the street or a garage may be less expensive.
One charge that some resorts sneak into your bill is the mandatory “resort fee,” sometimes called a “property fee” or “amenity fee.” This nebulous daily charge is tacked on to your bill and can end up being hundreds of extra dollars. Supposedly the fee covers amenities that you may have thought were included with your room rate but are not, such as the pool or fitness center. See if you can negotiate the fee if you did not use certain amenities or if they were closed or not working.
When traveling, watch out for a sneaky mandatory “resort fee,” sometimes called a “property fee” or “amenity fee.” This nebulous daily charge is tacked on to your bill and can end up being hundreds of extra dollars.
You worked hard for your vacation. Don’t let hidden charges ruin your trip. While there has been pressure on the travel and hospitality industry to be more transparent with fees, it is ultimately up to the consumer to do some up-front research. Being nickeled-and-dimed is common for today’s traveler, so being aware of what fees may be lurking behind those fantastic deals is a smart way to have a vacation that is truly within your budget.
The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal, travel or financial advice. You should consult with a financial or travel professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs. All military discounts require proof of military service. See individual websites for details, blackout dates, restrictions, expiration dates, and other information. Offers and discounts can change at any time. Omni Financial does not endorse, recommend or imply affiliation with the listed companies or organizations.