Planning your next adventure? Check out this post for tips to avoid outrageous travel expenses that might sneak up on you and save your money for making memories. One of our travel experts, Allison, has some awesome tips for you today.
Hi Freebs! It’s Allison here with Wanderfar Travel Adventures. I’m here to give you a few tips on how to keep that money that you’ve worked so hard on in your pocket instead of spending it on unnecessary travel expenses.
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Travel upcharges can be a real pain, especially when you don’t know about them or plan for them. Am I right? They can add hundreds of dollars to the cost of a trip, so you might as well just throw that budget out the window!
Listen up, because I'm about to save your budget and some major money!
As a travel advisor, most of my clients are Disney vacationers looking for help planning a Disney vacation. However, I also work with honeymooners, groups, and other travelers, which means that I've seen a lot in the way of fees. And let me tell you, they are not pretty!
One of the first things that I tell my clients is to read all the fine print – you never know where extra charges may be hiding! Some of them are more common than others, which is why they’ve made my honorary list of junky fees that every Freeb should know how to avoid.
TRAVEL EXPENSES FOR FLYING
Airports and airlines can REALLY rack up the money that you're putting on your credit card! While these travel expenses are obviously necessary, I have a few ways for you to spend less money while still doing what you have to do to get where you're going!
Have you ever wondered why you haven’t built a parking lot yet and just started charging people to take up space? I don’t even want to think about the money I’ve spent over the years for the luxury of parking my car at concerts, sporting events, shopping malls, theme parks, city garages… the list could just keep going! It’s a big business, and at airports, the cost to park can easily total $15 to $20 per day or more. On a 7-day vacation, you can rack up over $100 in parking charges alone. Say what now? And that’s money that many people overlook when budgeting for a trip. Um, if I’m traveling, I’d rather spend that money on food or souvenirs. Definitely not on parking my car!
Try holding on to your cash by taking a taxi or ride-sharing service from your home to and from the airport. Bonus points if you can talk a friend or family member into drop-off and pick-up duties instead! If you live too far from the airport to avoid driving and have to stay overnight, consider staying at a hotel that offers airport shuttle service with complimentary or discounted parking in their lot. If you aren’t staying at a hotel, there is still one more way you can lower the cost of your airport parking bill – consider shopping the cost of parking at independent lots surrounding the airport. Check to see if the lots offer any coupons for your dates, usually you can find some kind of discount!
The airline industry is riddled with extra costs that can make your travel budget go down the drain. That $39 fare looks really good until you have to throw down an extra $135 in fees for your two checked bags and a carry-on. Oh, and don’t forget the paper ticket fee, your in-flight entertainment fee, and the $12 you’ll spend to use a blanket on your flight! You also better hope that you don’t have to change your flight once it’s booked. You might face a $200 charge on top of the price difference for your new fare, which is likely to be much higher the closer you get to your departure date.
If you fly frequently, consider signing up for your favorite airline’s loyalty program. You could even use their branded credit card to earn special status with the airline that gets you generous perks like upgraded boarding options or a complimentary checked bag. When you’re shopping around, look for fares with airlines that are known for low fees. Southwest Airlines, for example, is primarily a domestic low-cost carrier (although it has branched out to destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico in recent years!). When you fly with them, you get a free carry-on, two free checked bags, complimentary in-flight entertainment, free paper tickets, and no change fees if you need to switch flights. Talk about saving money without giving up the perks!
UNNECESSARY HOTEL TRAVEL EXPENSES
Does your trip include a hotel stay? In a perfect world, your home away from home would have all of the amenities that you are used to for free. Unfortunately, there are plenty of travel expenses that can hit you hard during your hotel stay! But don't worry, I have some ideas to keep that money in your pocket!
This one gets me. It’s 2019, people, are we not at the point where WiFi is like a basic necessity?! Okay, okay, maybe I’m being a little extreme, but seriously!
If you know that you are going to need Internet access during your stay, look for a chain that offers it as a complimentary service. Some hotels charge nothing at all for WiFi, and others offer it complimentary to guests who sign up for the hotel chain’s loyalty program. Still, others may charge for in-room WiFi, but they offer it free in the hotel lobby or in the business center. However, if you somehow find yourself in the unfortunate situation where your hotel is trying to charge you $14.95 for high-speed Internet service, make a call! Politely ask the manager to waive the fee and see what happens. The worst they can do is say no, but you might be surprised how many unnecessary fees get comped from hotel bills simply by asking!
Let's be real for a second – sometimes a girl wants nothing more than to pop the top on her favorite soda or grab a bottle of water from the comfort of her hotel room after a long day of travel. Indulge at your own risk, though! A simple can of pop or bottle of water could set you back five bucks or more. If you have more than one during your stay or opt for an alcoholic beverage from your in-room refrigerator, you could easily see your hotel bill soar by $20 – and even more if your spouse is with you!
But don’t worry, Freebs. When it comes to hospitality, certain hotel chains have garnered a reputation for hosting their guests with plenty of “extras” at no added cost! Stay at the Embassy Suites chain of hotels by Hilton, for example, and get access to the evening happy hour. This is when the lobby turns into a lounge serving up complimentary (That’s right, FREE!) beer, wine, cocktails, and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as a few pre-dinner snacks. Free food? I am IN!
But Embassy Suites isn’t alone in their generosity. Other hotel chains also serve complimentary beverages to guests in the evenings. Drury Hotels, for example, typically offers up to two beverages per person, and they even throw in a full dinner complete with complimentary entrees and a soup or salad! When you’ve got mouths to feed, free dinner and drinks means big savings – especially if you return for a complimentary breakfast the following morning!
RENTAL CAR TRAVEL EXPENSES
Ah, rental cars. There’s nothing like opening the door to that new-car smell and a freshly detailed ride – especially if your minivan back home is littered with Cheeto dust, straw wrappers, and the smell of a dirty sock your son shoved in the back seat after soccer practice (Seriously kid, can't you just wait until we get home to take it off?!). You’ve done your due diligence and found a great deal on a rental car. Perhaps you even used a credit card with built-in rental car coverage to waive the high cost of the car company’s collision damage waiver (CDW). What a saver you are!
Then reality hits. You ARE going to be paying much more for the cost of your rental thanks to an onslaught of fees hiding in your contract. There’s the eye-popping cost of refilling your fuel tank at the end of the rental period and the cost of renting a car seat for your toddler. You also could have the fee for activation of your navigation system. Oh, and don’t even think about taking a toll road, or else you’ll get slapped with outrageous “convenience” fees on top of the actual toll charge. With some companies, these fees can be as much as $15 per toll. With many states going cashless at toll booths, the bill can add up fast!
Before you rent, know what you are getting into. Check the company’s rental fees first. Just because they offer the lowest rental rate does NOT mean that they are actually the most affordable. For example, there is a rental company called Silvercar that only rents silver Audis. Although the prices tend to be higher than other rental companies, they do not nickel and dime customers. Instead, they include several extra perks like navigation and car seats at no additional charge. It pays to do your homework and find companies like this!
If you find yourself renting from a provider with extra fees, consider using a free navigation app on your phone (if you will primarily be driving in areas with good cell service). Did you know that you can also bring your own car seat? You can either check it at the gate before your board your airplane or, more preferably, use an FAA-approved seat that keeps your little one safe and sound from plane to car.
As for fuel charges, opt out of the rental company’s “generous” offer to refill the tank for you and do it yourself, instead. This lets you shop around for the cheapest gas in town rather than being charged for their more expensive gas. Finally, look into ways that you can avoid toll charges through your rental company. For example, some states allow you to register a rental vehicle’s license plate under a personal toll account. This lets you pay charges directly from your account instead of through the rental company.
INDIVIDUAL TRAVEL INSURANCE POLICIES
Insurance is one of those things that everyone needs but no one ever wants to use. You spend a few hundred dollars on travel insurance to protect the thousands you invested into your family vacation. Then you do it again and again for every big trip in the future. If you travel frequently – especially for work – it’s easy to spend thousands on annual trip insurance costs alone. Many people don’t realize that it is possible to purchase annual trip protection, not just individual trip coverage. As a travel advisor, I often give my clients details and pricing for both individual and annual trip insurance coverage. Be sure to consider all of your options before you purchase!
Alright Freebs, that’s all that I’ve got for you today! I hope that these tips can help you to save some money when it comes to travel expenses. Jordan has some great, cheap travel tips that you should check out!
If you have a favorite way that you save money while traveling, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about anything that I may be missing out on!