6 Surprising Travel Expenses to Watch Out For

Here's how to get the most out of your next getaway.

I love to travel. From the Blue Lagoon in Iceland to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Colosseum in Rome, there’s no adventure I would turn down. In the past, I’ve mostly been able to travel by saving up for trips and finding good deals online. But even with all the planning and research that has gone into my excursions, I have often been surprised by certain expenses that crop up.

The following are six of the costs that surprised me the first time I encountered them. Be aware of these on your upcoming trips so you can plan for them in advance.

1. Vaccines

A few years ago, my husband and I traveled to South America for six weeks. From the tours we’d take to the places we’d stay and the travel expenses between countries, we had everything planned and accounted for—or so we thought.

While we knew that we’d be required to get certain shots for our trip, we didn’t anticipate that those vaccines wouldn’t be covered by our health insurance and that we would have to pay out of pocket for them. The extra $700 we had to pay really put a dent in our budget. Learn from our mistake and remember to think about what additional health costs might be associated with a trip so you can account for that in your planning as well.

2. Travel Insurance

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to see the wisdom in travel insurance more and more. Life can certainly throw you curveballs, and when you’ve plunked down hundreds (or thousands) on a trip, it could be worth the added cost to know that you’re covered. Travel insurance can reimburse your expenses if for some unforeseen reason you can’t actually go on your trip or, worse, if something should happen to you while you’re traveling.

Start by checking with your credit card company to see what coverage is offers (some will cover your nonrefundable flight fees if you have a good reason for not being able to fly, for example), then consider outside insurance as well.

3. Tips

There’s so much more to tipping than you might expect. For starters, not all cultures expect consumers to tip for all types of services. Do a little research ahead of time to determine whether tipping is a custom in the countries you are traveling to, and be prepared with cash if you’ll need it. If you’ll be traveling to a country where tipping is part of the etiquette, then it’s best to think outside the box for this practice as well.

For example, it’s a given that you would tip your waiter and cab driver, but don’t forget about hotel staff, the captain of your ship, the sommelier, or the skycap at the airport

4. Taxes

A little bit of tax here and there on things like souvenirs, food, and drink can add up, but what you should really take into consideration is the additional taxes that come with hotel charges and flights. Even small tax percentages on large price tags can really add up quickly, so it’s best to be prepared for these in your travel budget.

5. Resort Fees

Some resorts and hotels (particularly fancy ones) charge additional fees for certain services—things you might not expect unless you read the fine print. I’ve seen hotels charge for Wi-Fi, newspapers, use of the gym or other recreational facilities, cribs, even extra sheets. The best way to be prepared for this is to make sure you read everything before paying to stay somewhere, and never be afraid to call if you have any additional questions.

6. Foreign Transaction Fees

Most credit and debit cards charge a foreign transaction fee every single time you use your card in another country. These fees typically range from 1% to 3%. If you’ll be traveling internationally, you may want to pick a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.

Watch out for these six tricky travel expenses, and you’ll be better able to stick to your travel budget. And if you’ve worked out your budget but you’re still not sure exactly how you’ll actually pay for things once you’re on your trip, we can help you determine the best ways to pay for your travel expenses, too.

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Americans Are Traveling (& Spending) More Than Ever This Memorial Day

memorial-day-travel

This year, Americans want to spend their Memorial Day weekend away from home, despite reports that gas prices are going to be the highest they’ve been in more than a decade.

This is according to a recent report from AAA, which used economic variables to forecast domestic travel volumes, as well as data from research firm IHS Markit. The study — which qualified Memorial Day travel as going 50 or more miles away from home during Thursday, May 25 and Monday, May 29 — predicts that 39.3 million travelers will be hitting the road this year for the long weekend, which is up 2.7% (roughly one million) from 2016, making this the highest volume of Memorial Day weekend travel since 2005.

And as the amount of travelers increase, so do gas prices. The gas prices averaged at around $2.74 in 2015, dropped to $2.32 in 2016 but are predicted to rise to the highest gas prices since 2005, AAA reported. This is unfortunate news for the 34.6 million Americans (88.1% of travelers) who reportedly plan to drive to their destinations.

“The expected spike in Memorial Day travel mirrors the positive growth seen throughout the travel industry this year,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA senior vice president, Travel and Publishing. “Higher confidence has led to more consumer spending, and many Americans are choosing to allocate their extra money on travel this Memorial Day.”

What You’ll Pay to Get Away

Although the survey reports travelers intend to drive despite high gas prices, this isn’t the only thing they’ll need to consider as they get behind the wheel. According to last year’s accident and traffic data from Waze, a community-based mapping app, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York were the busiest metro areas over Memorial Day weekend, especially on Thursday and Friday. An extra precaution should be taken for most drivers especially because the number of car rentals are increasing this year as well. AAA’s car rental bookings are 19% higher than last Memorial Day and the cost has risen to an average of $66 per day, 7% more than last year.

The 2.9 million Americans choosing to fly to their destinations are also seeing a cost increase. AAA reports airfare rates are higher than last Memorial Day, saying the average airfare for the top 40 domestic flight routes will be 9% higher. If you do plan on flying anywhere this Memorial Day weekend, you may want to read up on the best credit cards to use at every major airport in America to help ensure you get the best bang for your buck when you’re there. Just remember, these travel cards tend to require you have an excellent credit score to qualify. So, if you’re looking to apply for one, it’s a good idea to check out your credit ahead of time. You can see two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

While driving and flying dominate the survey, AAA projects travel by other modes (including trains, buses and cruises) will rise to 1.75 million this year, the highest level since 2009. The cost for transportation isn’t the only thing on the rise — hotels costs are also going up. The average AAA Three Diamond Rated Hotel for this Memorial Day weekend costs an average $215 each night, 18% more than last year.

Whether or not you’re traveling this holiday weekend, you will want to check out these 50 ways to honor the true meaning of Memorial Day

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12 Spring Break Essentials for Families

familyvacation

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The post 12 Spring Break Essentials for Families appeared first on Credit.com.

How to Have a Not-So-Expensive (NSE) Weekend Away

camping

When we were paying off $51,000 in credit card debt, vacations were a big strain on our budget. We dedicated as much of our disposable income as possible to paying off our debt, not adding to it. For a while, we took no vacations at all.

It was then that we discovered “not-so-expensive” or NSE. NSE is our way to do the things we love, but focus on the things we love more. We love wine, but don’t need a $40 bottle when we’re home by ourselves on a Friday night. Our alternative is an NSE box of wine, which gives us more wine for our buck. Rather than cable TV, we use the NSE streaming alternatives.

While we love to travel, we wanted to pay off our debt even more and NSE options were a great way to do both. Two of our favorite NSE weekends away were nearby our home in Denver, close to all the Rocky Mountains have to offer. One NSE weekend was spent in Winter Park, Colorado during the summer off-season. Another was an NSE Staycation at our friend’s home in Buena Vista. Both options gave us the break we needed, but didn’t break our budget.

Here are six keys we still follow today, even now that we’re debt free. These NSE weekends away give us mini-vacations, so we can save for bigger vacations.

1. Visit Friends and Family Within Driving Distance

Gas prices are way down from their 2006 peak and a two-to-four hour drive is no longer as expensive as a plane ticket. Try not to overstay your welcome, though. House guests are like fish; they stink after three days. If you want to stay longer, consider spending a couple of nights in a hotel. You can thank your hosts with a small gift or treat them to an NSE dinner.

2. When in Rome ….

When traveling, it’s easy to get sucked into the tourist traps. Instead, plan ahead and go on the website of the town or city you’re visiting to find local events and activities. You’d be surprised how many free or cheap activities some places offer and you get to experience the unique, local flare of your host city. For example, a colleague of ours puts together an annual list of over 400 NSE activities in the Denver metro area each summer. That’s a goldmine for any family who wants to visit Denver on the cheap. What NSE activities can you find where you’re visiting?

3. Eat Like a Local

Tools like Yelp are great for seeing what restaurants are rated highly and what restaurants are highly priced. We have a more edgy trick up our sleeves: You can use a dating app that identifies locals, like Tinder or Grindr, (give full disclose to your significant other first) to ask where to get the best meals at the best prices. You’ll be surprised at how helpful and friendly locals are, and you may find a tour guide for a day or two.

4. Meals Don’t Need to Be Expensive

Weekends away often blow the dining budget. Don’t forget quick-casual restaurants and tools such as Groupon and Living Social to control dining costs. When staying at a hotel, request a room with a kitchenette to cook simple meals. With proper planning, you can bring many ingredients from home.

5. Buy Liquor at Home

If you’re like us, you imbibe more when traveling. You can buy your libations at home rather than your vacation destination where prices often include a tourist mark-up. Drink a glass of wine or two before you hit the town and you can cut your drinking bill in half.

6. Consider Alternative Accommodations

The rise of the part-time landlord has been a boom for businesses and travelers alike. Websites like AirBNB or VRBO could help your find affordable apartments, rooms, or even whole houses for rent in your travel destination. Using these seven tech savvy tips could help your score an even cheaper stay. You may want to choose a place with a kitchen so you can have breakfast in bed with your special someone. Some cleaning and other hidden fees can negate the NSE value. (If you treat these places like your home and clean before you leave, you may able to save $50 to $250 in cleaning fees. It’s also helpful to take pictures of your rented space before you leave to keep everyone on the up and up.)

Being on a budget doesn’t need to eliminate your fun. With proper planning and a little thinking outside the box, a NSE weekend may be just what you need. If you need help finding non-traditional NSE vacation destinations, we’ve compiled 6 travel tips and reasonably priced destinations for you. You’ll likely love a break in any of those six destinations and you won’t break your budget.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: omgimages

The post How to Have a Not-So-Expensive (NSE) Weekend Away appeared first on Credit.com.

How to Have a Not-So-Expensive (NSE) Weekend Away

camping

When we were paying off $51,000 in credit card debt, vacations were a big strain on our budget. We dedicated as much of our disposable income as possible to paying off our debt, not adding to it. For a while, we took no vacations at all.

It was then that we discovered “not-so-expensive” or NSE. NSE is our way to do the things we love, but focus on the things we love more. We love wine, but don’t need a $40 bottle when we’re home by ourselves on a Friday night. Our alternative is an NSE box of wine, which gives us more wine for our buck. Rather than cable TV, we use the NSE streaming alternatives.

While we love to travel, we wanted to pay off our debt even more and NSE options were a great way to do both. Two of our favorite NSE weekends away were nearby our home in Denver, close to all the Rocky Mountains have to offer. One NSE weekend was spent in Winter Park, Colorado during the summer off-season. Another was an NSE Staycation at our friend’s home in Buena Vista. Both options gave us the break we needed, but didn’t break our budget.

Here are six keys we still follow today, even now that we’re debt free. These NSE weekends away give us mini-vacations, so we can save for bigger vacations.

1. Visit Friends and Family Within Driving Distance

Gas prices are way down from their 2006 peak and a two-to-four hour drive is no longer as expensive as a plane ticket. Try not to overstay your welcome, though. House guests are like fish; they stink after three days. If you want to stay longer, consider spending a couple of nights in a hotel. You can thank your hosts with a small gift or treat them to an NSE dinner.

2. When in Rome ….

When traveling, it’s easy to get sucked into the tourist traps. Instead, plan ahead and go on the website of the town or city you’re visiting to find local events and activities. You’d be surprised how many free or cheap activities some places offer and you get to experience the unique, local flare of your host city. For example, a colleague of ours puts together an annual list of over 400 NSE activities in the Denver metro area each summer. That’s a goldmine for any family who wants to visit Denver on the cheap. What NSE activities can you find where you’re visiting?

3. Eat Like a Local

Tools like Yelp are great for seeing what restaurants are rated highly and what restaurants are highly priced. We have a more edgy trick up our sleeves: You can use a dating app that identifies locals, like Tinder or Grindr, (give full disclose to your significant other first) to ask where to get the best meals at the best prices. You’ll be surprised at how helpful and friendly locals are, and you may find a tour guide for a day or two.

4. Meals Don’t Need to Be Expensive

Weekends away often blow the dining budget. Don’t forget quick-casual restaurants and tools such as Groupon and Living Social to control dining costs. When staying at a hotel, request a room with a kitchenette to cook simple meals. With proper planning, you can bring many ingredients from home.

5. Buy Liquor at Home

If you’re like us, you imbibe more when traveling. You can buy your libations at home rather than your vacation destination where prices often include a tourist mark-up. Drink a glass of wine or two before you hit the town and you can cut your drinking bill in half.

6. Consider Alternative Accommodations

The rise of the part-time landlord has been a boom for businesses and travelers alike. Websites like AirBNB or VRBO could help your find affordable apartments, rooms, or even whole houses for rent in your travel destination. Using these seven tech savvy tips could help your score an even cheaper stay. You may want to choose a place with a kitchen so you can have breakfast in bed with your special someone. Some cleaning and other hidden fees can negate the NSE value. (If you treat these places like your home and clean before you leave, you may able to save $50 to $250 in cleaning fees. It’s also helpful to take pictures of your rented space before you leave to keep everyone on the up and up.)

Being on a budget doesn’t need to eliminate your fun. With proper planning and a little thinking outside the box, a NSE weekend may be just what you need. If you need help finding non-traditional NSE vacation destinations, we’ve compiled 6 travel tips and reasonably priced destinations for you. You’ll likely love a break in any of those six destinations and you won’t break your budget.

More Money-Saving Reads:

Image: omgimages

The post How to Have a Not-So-Expensive (NSE) Weekend Away appeared first on Credit.com.