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Wednesday, April 5, 2023

All Those Extra Expenses You Forgot About

It's easy to go on vacation and have a budget and plan for the big things like accommodations, airfare, and food, but there's a whole list of things you forget about that can totally break your budget and make you sad. No one wants to be sad on vacation.

Since you don't want to subsist on PB&J when you get home, or (worse) in the last days of your vacay, remember to include these things.

Since you don't want to subsist on PB&J when you get home, or (worse) in the last days of your vacay, make sure you remember these things and include them into your budget when you make your vacation plans.
  • Gas/transportation - If you're renting a car, don't forget that you also have to budget for gas expenses. If you're just going to use public transportation to get around, sure you can make sure you know how to use said transportation, but you also have to pay for your rides. Research your options before travel, so you aren't getting ripped off, because you didn't get a monthly card or you only need a few rides and it's cheaper to pay that way than to buy a multi-ride pass.
  • Resort fees - Often, you've figured out how much your hotel room costs, but depending on your destination, resort fees can vary wildly. If you're having to pay hundreds of dollars on top of your room rate, that can really hurt you.
  • International phone plan/roaming fees - When you travel, you are going to have to use your phone, whether to call and make a reservation or to call home to check in with family/friends. Make sure your mobile has the appropriate plan for your trip and remember that you will be paying more. It could be cheaper to buy a region-specific SIM card to use in your current phone, purchase a cheap mobile to use with that SIM or just remember that your carrier will charge you for using your phone outside your home country. We have Verizon and they charge you $10/24-hours when you use services internationally. That may seem like a lot, but it also means you are only charged for the days you use it and not for the entire month like you used to.
  • WiFi - Having WiFi available at my accommodation is a must for me. I always look for places that include it in their rate, because paying $12.95, or whatever outrageous fee they charge at some resorts, is a rip-off. They already have WiFi available and boosting for the entire building. You shouldn't be paying more for accessing the internet as you do for an entire month of internet at home.
  • Laundry - We almost always do laundry on vacation, because then we don't have to pack more than we need. I try hard to find places that have laundry included, but it's not always possible and I still have quarters in my travel hamper for those just in case times. I also carry my own laundry sheets/detergent, because I've been to laundry rooms that didn't have detergent available for purchase and it cost quite a bit to buy a too-large package at a nearby grocers. 
  • Spontaneous activities - Many of us travel on a tight budget, but there are going to be times when cool or exciting opportunities present themselves and you'll be sad to miss out. Make sure you have a reserve of funds (it can be small, like $50) in case something comes up that you really want to do.
  • Taxes - I live in a place where we don't pay sales tax and I always forget when I go elsewhere, but then I remember and I'm slightly annoyed and then I get over it. You have to pay taxes and fees for a lot of things, including airfare, souvenirs, and meals. Don't go through your vacation funds faster than expected by knowing the tax rate and adding it on to your budget plan.
  • Exchange rate fees - fees for changing money can vary greatly depending on where you do your exchange. The most expensive exchange rates are usually at the airport, so if you have to do it, exchange the least amount possible and then go elsewhere. Post offices often have the lowest rates. 
  • Credit card fees - Many credit cards will charge foreign transaction fees and your debit card may charge big fees for using foreign ATMs. Try to choose a card with no international fees, but if you can't, maybe try keeping your transactions to a minimum, so you aren't paying outrageous fees. (Don't forget to tell your credit card companies that you're traveling. You can do this online, usually. Nothing is worse than your card getting flagged as you're trying to pay for dinner.)
  • Insurance - If you're planning on purchasing travel insurance, don't forget to include it as part of your travel budget. 
  • Emergency incidentals - Not everything always goes to plan. Sometimes your flight gets cancelled or delayed, sometimes you get sick, sometimes your car breaks down on a road trip, sometimes you end up getting in after all the trains stop running and you have to spring for a cab or Uber (this is personal experience). Have an emergency fund or credit card, because you never know what might happen. If you don't have to use it, great. If you do, you'll be glad you have it. 
When I make my trip itinerary, I make sure to account for everything I'm doing and research things I may not know, because it makes travel much less stressful for me when I know all the variables. 

Has your trip ever been cut short or ruined by "hidden" expenses?

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