Goals

Beware of these 10 Vacation Budget Pitfalls

You budgeted for hotels, meals, airline tickets, shopping, and windsurfing. Yet, you spent $400 more than you expected on your vacation. Why? You probably didn’t account for these 10 budget pitfalls. Before you leave on your next trip, American Society of Travel Agents President Chris Russo suggests asking your travel agent, hotels, or airline about these common but unexpected expenses.

1. Hotel internet services

Don’t assume wireless internet services are free in your hotel room. Half of hotel chains charge for wireless internet usage (with luxury hotels being more likely to charge than budget chains). Most fees range from $9.95 to $19.95 per day – meaning a one-week stay could rack up $70 to $140 to your bill before tax.

2. Fees associated with flying

Taxes are charged when you purchase your ticket. However, baggage fees and seat charges for a last minute first class upgrade or boarding priority change may not be charged until you’re at the airport. Baggage fees vary and can add $50 to over $100 to your trip. Seat fees add at least $20 to your trip.

3. Hotel resort fees

Resorts may charge a mandatory flat fee for basic amenities such as self parking, pool usage, daily newspapers, and beach towels. These fees can be as high as $25 per day, adding $175 to the cost of a one-week stay.

4. Cruise food and beverage charges

Cruises seem like the ultimate all-inclusive vacation, but on most ships there are charges for alcoholic beverages and sodas. If you buy two drinks per day at $5 per drink, you’d spend an extra $70 on a one week cruise. As far as food, some ships will have free and paid restaurants as well as upcharges for high-end cuisine. Reservation fees at select may restaurants may also be assessed.

5. Cruise ship excursions

Purchasing several shore excursions such as a snorkeling trips and sightseeing tours can easily double the price of your trip. Plan for or book shore excursions before boarding.

6. Attractions and spa services at all-inclusive resorts

All-inclusive resorts include many free amenities, activities, and dining options. However, certain high-end meal items or restaurants could come with charges. Also, motorized sports such as jetskiing aren’t free. Want a massage? Find out the price before you put on your big fluffy robe.

7. Car rental insurance

Know what your own car insurance covers and what, if any, coverage is included through your credit card before step up to the rental car counter, especially when renting overseas. Extra insurance from the rental car company will cost you at least $10 per day.

8. Car rental accessories

If you need a child car seat, always find out when you book your vacation if there is a charge and how much.

9. Toll Roads

Toll charges add up quickly. Depending on how far you drive, toll charges can add $10 to $20 per day of driving. Plotting your trip on Google Maps or Mapquest will show if your planned route has any tolls.

10. Breakfast at hotels

If your hotel package includes a continental breakfast, it’s often a cold breakfast of fruit, cereal and milk, coffee, and pastries. However, if you want a hot breakfast, you could pay an extra $10. Know what your hotel offers before you add $70 per person to a week-long vacation.

Mint.com users can set up a personalized goal to save up for a trip. By figuring these extra charges into your budget BEFORE you leave the house, you can better plan for a vacation you can really afford. After all, you don’t want lingering credit card debt to be the one souvenir of your trip- but rather great memories and some nice snapshots.

Reyna Gobel is a freelance journalist who specializes in financial fitness. She is also the author of Graduation Debt: How To Manage Student Loans and Live Your Life.