How To Avoid Hidden Holiday Travel Costs

Source | Nubia Navarro

Source | Nubia Navarro

You just got through booking everything for your planned Christmas holiday vacation, finalizing your travel budget for possible expenses and the last thing you want to stress about is getting smacked with expensive hidden costs.

Before you go bat crazy, allow me to keep you afloat on the possible hidden costs you may be subjected to while away. Below I have broken down the different types of costs that may come up; take the necessary precautions to mind but don’t let it ruin a good time:

Debit and Credit Card Fees

Number one rule: Take two credit cards or one debit and one credit card. Notify your chosen credit and bank companies that you’ll be in another country with a specific date range. Dial the toll free customer service number on the back of your cards.

However, do budget and take a reasonable amount of money to exchange into currency for most of your use. Using your cards should be for emergencies or larger purchases otherwise you risk possible foreign fees. Research your company rates beforehand.

Also if you plan on using the ATMs overseas, beware of the excessive withdrawal terminal fee when you take out money- it can be about USD $1 to as high as $6 per transaction.

Liquids at the Airport

Be sure to review what you pack especially in regards to any liquids because anything that exceeds 3.4 ounces will be thrown away. Not cool; especially if this is an expensive organic body lotion that you can’t live without.

My recommendation is to use a packing list so that not only do you pack with you need but you can stow your items in the correct baggage. Large liquid containers should be stowed in check baggage and seal in a way to avoid spillage during transport. One way to do this is to remove the cap, use a piece of plastic Saran wrap over the opening, and replace the cap before packing. Voila! Ready to go!

Airport Shopping

If you can avoid it, I say skip the act of shopping at an airport. Buy your distraction items like magazines and books well in advance at your local pharmacy or newsstand. If it’s a cup of coffee or a shot of awesomeness that you need during the wait, make sure to budget that into your travel expenses.

Taxi Fares

If you haven’t arranged for transportation after your flight, you can be sure that you will be paying high fares on taxi transport. If you can, walk away or take a train away from the airport to hail a cab or taxi.

Doing so can cut your cost by 75%! Another recommendation is to plan this in advance and use Viator to help with your round-trip flight to hotel transfer booking.

Huge Rental Car Fees

Read the final print before renting any vehicle as car dealers will often try to sneak up extra costs. If something sounds incorrect or appears like a weird surcharge, question it! Be sure to be diligent in regards to returning the vehicle back on time too. Even if you are 30 minutes past the specified time, this could subject you to pay out a whole full extra day that you will be responsible for.

Hotel Fees

So you book your hotel accommodations and noticed that your bill surcharge includes a resort fee typically listed per night; this resort fee can include anything from Wi-Fi use, environmental cost, and gym or pool access, even the hotel’s light display. Yes, I seen this when I stood in a resort on the Vegas strip!

Be aware of the resort fees. If this doesn’t matter to you, then book that room already! Or book with AirBnB and forget the resort fees!


I found this resourceful website the other day and it’s a cool directory from around the world on where to find free Wi-Fi. This charge can be easily added to your hotel bill especially if the hotel doesn’t specify if the service is free. This surcharge is typically added in the resort fees as I mentioned before and is sometimes masked as “Free Wi-Fi”. Read the small print.

Phone Charges

I went overseas and magically racked up over $1000 in cell phone charges. After much self-psychotherapy, few drinks and “This can’t be my life” moments, I was able to negotiate with my mobile service provider to bring my bill down to $400.

The moral of the story is to make sure your mobile service provider is aware that you’ll most likely use your phone on your travels. Data roaming can add rather quickly especially when you’re overseas as view from my experience. Some providers provide a global service option to add to your plan to avoid international roaming charges. Be sure to inquire about that.

My other recommendation is to use a Magic Jack or buying a pay as you go SIM device.

Washing Laundry

You’re on vacation for a month. Good for you! But your clothes will reek and be in serious need of upkeep. Whatever you do, do not opt to have your clothes special wash by housekeeping staff unless you don’t mind paying top dollars. For example, one shirt to be laundered would have cost me USD $25 at the Waldorf Astoria.

It cost me just as much to buy the shirt! Instead, I recommend researching the nearest Laundromat courtesy of Google Maps, stowing your own sample-sized detergent and get your bum down there to wash your own knickers.

Souvenirs + Gifts

Everyone knew you were going on vacation. I think it is safe to say that 9 out of 10 of those people asked you to “bring me back something.” If that is the case, I recommend making a gift list to ensure that you don’t go over budget being Santa Claus.

In some countries, you may be able to negotiate the cost of a souvenir. This was my favorite shopping adventure while in Egypt. Put that poker face and negotiation skills to work.

Free Attractions

This is where I always say an itinerary and a budget goes hand in hand with a little background research. If there are famous sites you wish to see while overseas, always do your research to find the best deals. Most of time, you will discover that the entrance fees upfront are considerably higher than had you paid it online in advance.

Sometimes, the admissions might be free but you can easily fall prey to paying a “small charge” for donation purposes. Ask questions if you’re unsure or simply book adventures online using sites like Viator which makes booking excursions easier.

I hope these tips help you to make the best decision for yourself or your family as you all travel during the holidays. Remember, do your research to get the best experience without breaking the bank!