Small costs that can kill your travel budget (Unless you’re prepared)

“Resort fees”

Resort fees are completely bogus charges that hotels in touristy areas sometimes charge that ostensibly cover things like wifi, parking, and swimming pools i.e. amenities that free at many other hotels. These fees can be $30-40 a day in some cases.

Always look for a hotel that doesn’t charge a resort fee. If you’re going somewhere like Orlando, Las Vegas, or Palm Springs, expect to be hit with these very annoying charges!

Hotel surcharges for kids.

In some countries charging a surcharge for kids staying in the hotel room is common. In other countries, it’s generally a non-issue, due to “kids stay free using existing bedding” being a widespread norm.

Sometimes these charges are unavoidable but, if you’re travelling with kids, read the fine print before you agree to a booking.

Extra rental car fees.

When you get to the rental car counter, the agent will very likely to try up-sell you on insurance. It’s very expensive to buy liability insurance from them, but you need to have it! Therefore make sure you’re covered through your home auto policy or that you pre-book a rate that includes the insurances. Make sure the car you’re driving is protected, as well as coverage for your health and any cars or people you might hit in an accident. Accidents happen!

Be prepared that they’ll try to up-sell you all sorts of upgrades, like roadside assist or windscreen coverage.

Airline snags.

Of course, we know to expect baggage fees. However, some budget airlines have instigated fees for things like failing to print your boarding pass. This is an obvious attempt to catch out tourists who don’t have access to a printer.

If you’re travelling with kids and want to make sure you’re seated together on flights, you may need to be prepared to pay for seat assignment.


There are some places around the world that parking is an extremely pricey. Airport parking is something that tends to be high but prepaying in advance can help ease the cost. At smaller airports, the prices can be quite reasonable and may work out cheaper than taking public transport to the airport, or be more convenient than asking a friend to drop you/pick you up at an awkward time.

Tipping and taxes.

If you’re from a country where taxes are included in the posted price and there is no tipping, then don’t forget to add these costs if you’re travelling to a country that uses a different system. You’ll need to allow 20% for tipping if you eat at restaurants in the US, and tip the people who clean your hotel room. You may be able to get away with not tipping bellhops and the like by just carrying your own bags. Staying at 2-3 star hotels that don’t have bellhops can be a cost saver here.

One of the times a tipping culture can benefit you is if you tip for a room upgrade on checkout. For example it’s common to do this in Las Vegas however it’s not a guaranteed strategy.

Photo Credit: Dave Dugdale under Creative Commons license. Tip Jar.

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