Traveling isn’t cheap, but it’s rewarding. That’s why a lot of vagabonds and seasoned travelers are constantly looking for money-saving travel hacks to get the most out of their trip. One of the greatest hacks is to save money is to hack the travel industry itself: avoid travel fees.
Hey, we’re not encouraging you to cheat. Rather, we’re encouraging you to be smart enough to bypass paying for something that could be avoided. Airports, airlines, hotel chains, and other establishments charge a lot of fees, sometimes for services that used to be complimentary. While most are mandatory, some charges can be avoided and minimized if you’re a wise traveler.
If you want to save a bundle on your next trip, here are 10 travel costs you must avoid.
1. Last-minute booking fees
Booking too late is one of the worst travel mistakes you can make. Not only booking last minute is stressful – it’s more expensive too.
Money-saving tip: Booking at least a few weeks prior is the key. If booking last minute is unavoidable, consider shifting the dates of your trip to off-peak days to minimize penalties. You may depart on a Tuesday and/or return on a Friday.
2. Fees for pre-paying for your seat
Who doesn’t want to get the best seat during long-haul flights? While you can pre-pay for seat selection, it comes with a fee. That’s impractical.
Money-saving tip: Instead of pre-paying to pick your seat in advance, wait until you’re at the gate to pick your flight preferences. You can always ask the agent at the check-in counter politely to put you in your preferred spot.
3. Airport money exchange fees
Need to convert money to another currency? If you want to get your money’s worth, avoid the airports. Varying rates and service charges will cost you big if you use the airport terminal’s foreign exchange kiosks.
Money-saving tip: To get the best rates, it’s better to have it exchanged at a legitimate money changing chain before departing. You may also do it in a bank downtown or use plastic cards.
Internet access is a necessity and WiFi is almost always offered by most hotel chains. However, not all of them offer free access. If they do, they may be slow and unreliable and are not in-room.
Money-saving tip: Ask about the hotel’s wifi policy and make sure it’s free. If you need to pay a certain amount for high-quality access, you may be better off adding hotspot capabilities to your phone or buying coffee nearby and using the coffee shop’s free wi-fi.
5. Baggage fees
Flying in a low-cost airline? You may be obliged to pack light. Here, the total weight of your carry-on items is limited. Should your carry-on weight exceed the allowance, you might have to buy an additional bag allowance.
Money-saving tip: If you have a scale, weigh your carry-on before leaving to make sure it meets the airline’s allowed limit. If exceeding the limit is unavoidable, it’d be wiser to buy an additional bag allowance online in advance. It’s also more cost-effective to spread your luggage over two bags than cramping it in a single, oversized bag.
6. Cab and other transportation fees
Don’t feel like navigating your way via public transportation? Riding a cab may be a convenient option but it’s also one senseless way to burn your cash.
Money-saving tip: Before hailing a cab or booking an Uber ride, see if your hotel provides complimentary ground transportation. They often have shuttle services running between the hotel property and major hotels, between the hotel and the downtown, or both.
7. Expensive airport and airline snacks
Everything sold in the airport and plane is overpriced – including the water bottles.
Money-saving tip: Don’t be empty-handed and pack your own handy snacks beforehand. It can be packs of crackers, chips, and energy bars you can sneak in your pockets to stave hunger for the long haul.
8. Any food from the hotel
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Most hotel accommodation rates come with complimentary breakfast and welcome drinks and sweets. If it’s not free, frugal travelers would never settle at the hotel’s in-house restaurant to pay for expensive food. And that small fridge in your room containing soda, chips, and chocolate bars a.k.a “the minibar”? They know it comes with a steep price too.
Money-saving tip: Before eating that in-room Belgian chocolate in your hotel in Brugge, ask the staff what’s free and what’s not. You’re better off dining elsewhere to get affordable yet high-quality meals. And instead of munching overpriced goodies in the minibar, consider walking to a nearby 24/7 mart for your late night cravings.
9. Corkage fees
Planning to buy your own drink to save money? Restaurants and bars, of course, won’t give up without a fight: they charge corkage fees.
Money-saving tip: Don’t try to hide your liquor from the staff. Instead, ask about their policies regarding BYOB. If they do charge, you may want to pop the cork outside before dinner or wait ‘til you get into your hotel room.
10. Expensive Souvenirs
We get it – buying souvenirs are a must. Aside from photos, you want to take home something tangible that’ll remind you of your amazing trip. But that’s not an excuse to hoard expensive, useless souvenirs for all your loved ones back home.
Money-saving tip: Souvenirs can take a huge chunk of your budget, if you go overboard. Stick to cheap and small yet pretty ones, like magnets, keychains, and small handicrafts. You may also hunt for free souvenirs that are unique to that place – like currency, table napkins, tickets, maps and brochures, sand and rocks, spices, and other mementos.
Author Bio: Carmina Natividad is a daytime writer for Green Park Hotel Brugge, a three-star hotel offering the perfect countryside accommodation experience while exploring the best-preserved medieval city of Belgium. Since this free-spirited damsel loves to go on adventures, she’s got a lot to say about travel, dining, cultural enjoyment, and lifestyle.