There’s nothing like surprise expenses while on vacation to put a damper on your mood.
Here are seven fees you should factor into the budget — including a few you can avoid altogether if you’re smart.
Visas are required for U.S. citizens traveling to some major countries, and the fees can really escalate.
Planning on taking that once-in-a-lifetime trip to China? Budget another $140 per person for a visa. A visa to visit India costs $76 (including a service fee), while a visa for Russia costs $170. Countries like Brazil charge American citizens the same amount that our government charges their citizens to visit the U.S. — a hefty $160.
Go to the consulate’s website to find out how much the Visa fees will be based on country. Be sure to plan ahead with this one!
Have you ever looked at the breakdown of the cost of an airline ticket?
Mixed in with the Passenger Facility Charge and the Segment Tax is usually a departure tax for international flights. Many countries charge one, though its not always included in your airfare. If that is the case, you’ll be hit up with an exit fee at the airport on your way back to the U.S.
This is especially common in the Caribbean and Central and South America. The departure tax for St. Kitts is $37 per person, while the departure tax from St. Maarten is $30 per person. To leave Costa Rica you will owe $28.
The fee is usually payable in cash or by credit card and must be paid before proceeding through immigration for your exit stamp. Airport websites often have information about exit fees, and you can always call your airline to inquire about the departure tax, too. In case you were wondering, these fees are sometimes levied to cover things like airport construction, road work and water and sewage system maintenance.
This fee is probably the most hated among travelers, especially since it covers things you probably assumed were free — pool towels, daily newspaper and even in-room Internet, in-room coffee, gym access and more.
Hawaiian resorts and Las Vegas hotels are notorious for charging extra fees (though there are a few that do not, including the Kona Beach Hotel). These can add anywhere from $10 to $30 per night to the room rate. Sometimes it’s even a percentage.
And these charges are non-negotiable, even if you aren’t planning on logging on or working out. Be sure to read the fine print, where resort fees are often tucked away, especially when using a third-party booking site or call the hotel.
Those amazing cruise deals are so tempting, especially for all-inclusive boats where your meals are included in the price. Even if you have prepaid, you will still get a bill before you reach the final port detailing the incidental charges you racked up while you were gliding through the Caribbean. You might be surprised to see just how many piña coladas you ordered by the pool — and that you owe more than $150 for gratuities.
Most major cruise lines automatically bill cruisers between $10 and $12 in gratuities for each day of the cruise. And these set fees do not include the 15% automatically added to your bar tab.
Though the charge seems mandatory, if you feel the tip doesn’t reflect the service you’ve received, you can adjust the rate up or down by making a trip to the purser’s office to discuss the matter in person.
When it comes to which airlines charges what for checked bags, excess luggage and even carry-on bags, it can be exhausting to keep up, even for our travel agents!
It’s well worth researching airline baggage policies before you even book. That $50 difference between fares can disappear quickly if you have to pay $70 to check two bags.
Setting off to explore an off-the-beaten-path beach or a tiny village that’s large on charm is all part of the adventure. The mom-and-pop restaurants and shops that line main street are a nice change from the chain stores that every city seems to have, but don’t count on them taking credit cards -— or the presence of an ATM.
It’s worth those few minutes on your way out of town to stop at a major ATM (which offer the best exchange rate) before you head out for the day. If you don’t, you’ll be hit with much higher fees at a foreign exchange bureau — or let the shopkeeper determine how many USD that souvenir is worth.
Foreign transaction fees for airline tickets
Finding a great price on a flight directly from, say, British Airways or Air France is fantastic. But be aware that just because the price is in USD doesn’t mean you won’t be charged a foreign transaction fee by your credit card company. The airline is still an overseas business.
There are ways around the fee, though. One is to use a credit card that doesn’t charge for international transactions (Capital One is one). Or find a U.S. airline partner of the airline you want to book with.
For example, if you’re looking into flights to Germany and find a deal with Lufthansa, book through their partner United’s website instead to avoid foreign transaction fees showing up as part of your charge.
Not sure if the airline has a U.S. connection? Airline partners are listed on the company’s website, or check to see if they are part of the larger networks (such as the Star Alliance, which includes Lufthansa and United as well as South African Airways and Air New Zealand).