4 Outrageous Travel Fees — & How to Avoid Them

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You’ve gone through your ever-growing list of places you want to visit and have finally chosen where your next travel destination will be. As you’re building out your budget for this vacation, you’re seeing the expenses pile up and the supposed stress-free time is losing its luster.

But there are plenty of ways to save, one of which is avoiding paying some of those pesky add-on fees that often come with travel. Here are some of those fees and how you can avoid them.

For Cruises: Corkage Fees

Most cruises allow you to bring your own bottle (or two) of wine or champagne with you when you board the ship. However, if you bring that bottle with you to dinner or to one of the bars, you’ll likely get hit with a corkage fee, which typically ranges from $15 – $20.

“To avoid a corkage fee, you can always just have a drink in your cabin,” Tanner Callais, a cruise expert with Cruzely.com, said. 

Also, be sure to check your cruise line’s alcohol policy ahead of time so you know what you are (or aren’t) permitted to bring on board and where you’ll be able to drink it (for a fee or for free).

For Air Travel: Baggage Fees

According to the United States Department of Transportation baggage fees report, as of September 2016, the 13 main airlines in America had made a combined $2,047,379 in revenue on baggage fees over the course of that year.

You may be able to save a few bucks by paying to check your bag online instead of at the ticket counter, as some airlines offer discounts for doing this, according to Joe Black, who runs Nature Rated, a site focused on exploring the great outdoors. Black said he avoids baggage fees by trying to fly with carry-on bags only.

If neither of these options are right for you, you may want to consider looking at a travel rewards credit card, as many of these will waive your baggage fees. Just keep in mind that these cards often come with annual fees, so you need to make sure you travel enough to make this added expense worthwhile. (You can find more tips for applying for a new card here.)

For Road Trips: Toll Fees

Nothing beats packing a cooler and a bag of snacks and heading out on the open road. But, depending on where your road trip takes you, you may be faced with paying obnoxious toll booth fees. Of course, you can always avoid tolls by opting for longer, scenic byways — and  you can potentially offset this expense by using gas credit cards that reward you for filling up. You can set these rewards aside and use them to help you cover any tolls you encounter on your next road trip.

For Hotel Stays: Resort Fees

Elizabeth Avery, founder of SoloTrekker4U.com, emphasized how important it is to “read the fine print” before you book your stay to see if these fees are built into your lodging charge or if they break them out individually. “Check it out before booking so you won’t find you are paying [for things you won’t use, like] for the fitness center when you’d rather relax than work out,” Avery said. In many cases, you may be able to get these waived by asking a representative when booking your reservation.  

Image: SolStock

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11 Things You Can Get for Free on an Airplane

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It seems like airlines are adding fees for everything, like sitting together with your family and choosing an aisle or window seat. But, surprisingly, there are still some things you can get for free when you’re cruising at 30,000 feet. Here are 11 of them. (Note: Not all of these items are offered on every airline, so it’s important to check with your specific carrier about any additional fees for these perks before boarding.)

1. Extra Snacks

That tiny bag of peanuts may not curb your hunger. Assuming there is enough for everyone to get at least one snack, attendants will likely give you seconds if you ask for them, according to Business Insider.

2. Sanitizing Wipes

You may want to wipe down the arm rests or tray table once you sit down. If you don’t travel with Clorox wipes, your flight attendant might have some on hand, Business Insider reported.

3. A Whole Can of Soda/Water Bottle Refills

If the half cup of soda they provide during the in-flight service just doesn’t quench your thirst, most flight attendants are happy to give you the full can. And if you’ve brought your own refillable water bottle on board, they’ll likely top it off with fresh ice and water at no extra charge.

4. Blanket & Pillow

If you don’t have one of the neck pillows you often see clipped to many travelers’ backpacks, the in-flight service crew may be able to give you one. You may also request a blanket on some airlines. Certain airlines even have these complimentary comforts on the seats upon boarding, especially for first or business class passengers.

5. Wing Pins

If you’re traveling with kids, pilot wings (either as a pin or sticker) is a great freebee to inquire about. Forbes recently reported that American Airlines just brought back these collectibles.

6. Basic First Aid Items

SmarterTravel reports that most airlines equip their planes with a First Aid kit, so if you get a paper cut flipping through your magazine or newspaper during the flight, don’t hesitate to ask for a Band-Aid.

7. Swag Bags

Some airlines provide kits filled with things you can use on the flight, like ear plugs, eye masks, socks, chapstick and more. These are often given out on international flights, but sometimes you may get them when you’re catching a red eye, as with JetBlue’s Shut-eye Service.

8.Wi-Fi

Depending on which airline you’re traveling with, you may not have to pay for in-flight Wi-Fi service. JetBlue, for example, offers free in-flight Internet access on some of their planes, but you should check with your airline before you travel to see if they offer this amenity.

9. Cocktails

If you’re flying in first class, alcoholic beverages are often included for those 21 and older, but some airlines offer free cocktails, beer or wine no matter where your seat is. However, the caveat is that this usually only applies to international flights.

10. Headphones

You may remember a time when you had to use airline-specific headphones with a double plug on flights, but that isn’t the case anymore. If you forget your earbuds, some airlines will give you new ones you can keep and actually reuse later. (This may only apply to select routes or business and first class seats, so you may still want to bring your own, just in case.)

11. Checked Luggage

Another airline freebie you may be able to take advantage of is free checked baggage. While this is customary on very few airlines, you may still enjoy this perk if you have an airline credit card. (You can read about some of the best airline cards in America here.) For example, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card from American Express (which you can read a full review of here), gives cardholders their first checked bag for free.

Before you sign up for any credit card, it’s a good idea to check your credit score, as having good credit can help you qualify for better terms and conditions. To see where your credit currently stands, you can view your free credit report summary, updated each month, on Credit.com.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

At publishing time, the Gold Delta SkyMiles card from American Express card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

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