You're ready to head off on your big trip and have budgeted for everything down to the last cent– from your rental car booking to a spa day at the resort you'll be staying at. But are there expenses that you haven't anticipated?
We look at the extra costs and fees travelers rarely plan for so that you can budget better for your vacations.
1. Tourists Taxes and Fees
There are a number of taxes and fees that you might have to pay as a tourist depending on where you're travelling. There are often airport or departure fees that you have to pay before leaving which can be anywhere from $10 to over $20. If you're travelling to a country that requires you buy a tourist visa to enter that could set you back well over $100. Stay overnight in certain cities and a tourist tax of anywhere from $2 to a percentage of your bill will be charged.
Depending on how many days you're travelling, these fees could add up. Research the cities, countries, and airports you'll be visiting to get a sense of what fees they charge.
2. Foreign Transaction Fees
If your credit card charges a foreign transaction fee, you might end up paying an extra 2% to 3% on all your foreign purchases.
Check to see if your card charges these fees before you leave for your trip. If it does, consider taking another credit card that doesn’t charge these types of fees.
3. Roaming Charges
When you leave the country, your wireless provider will likely charge you for roaming fees to make calls, send texts, and use data. Rather than rack up hundreds of dollars in fees or pay for an expensive international travel package, consider getting a SIM card at your destination.
Many countries sell SIM cards at the airport or in tourist areas that will allow you to get a 'pay as you go' package for a low fee that will allow you to use as much data, texts, and minutes as you need.
4. Hidden Hotel Fees
You think you're getting a great deal on that resort, but when you arrive you might discover that there are a bunch of add-on fees you didn't realize would be charged. For example, some resorts have a mandatory resort fee, fees for clean beach towels, fees for parking, and fees to use pool equipment or beach chairs. Many hotels also charge for things like Wi-Fi, or bottled water.
Other fees to look out for are fees to use the safe, have pets stay with you, have an extra person stay in your room, use the coffee maker in your room, or check-in or check-out early. Before you book, check the fine print for the resort or hotel to see what is included and which fees you will be charged.
5. ATM Fees and Exchange Fees
The cheapest way to exchange money for your trip is to do so beforehand at your bank or to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fee as these two options tend to give you the best rates. However, if you need to use an ATM while you're travelling, check with your bank to see if they belong to any international ATM networks. You will likely be charged $3 to $5 for each transaction so make sure to limit your ATM use.
Scotiabank is a member of the Global ATM Alliance, so when you’re travelling outside of Canada, you can use the ABMs of the international banks in the Alliance. You can skip the surcharge and save on access fees, all in one go. There are some exceptions, so check here or ask at your branch before you travel if you have questions.
6. Travel Insurance or Medical Bills
When you're headed off on your trip the last thing you want to think about is potentially getting sick or injured, but it could happens and you don't want to be unprepared. If you don't have travel insurance, you'll want to get a policy so that an accident doesn't cause you financial stress. Travel insurance can cost as little as a couple hundred dollars.
Some credit cards include travel insurance, like the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* card. It's worth making sure you have it – considering how much it would cost to pay for a travel emergency or get airlifted back home to Canada. Also, it will cover you in case you need to cancel your trip.
7. Baggage Fees
You likely know that most airlines charge baggage fees, but do you know how much they charge? Most airlines will give you your first bag relatively cheap for $25 or less. However, sometimes that amount increases significantly if you want to bring another bag --- often doubling or tripling. If your bag is overweight, you could pay as much as $100 to check it.
Avoid unexpected baggage fees by checking the weight limit and fees online before you pack. You might also find that some discount airlines charge for carry-on bags these days. That won't be a welcome surprise at 6:00 a.m. at the airport.
To avoid overweight bags, buy a luggage weight hook that will tell you how heavy your bag is so you don't have to guess. If you're not sure if your bags are going to be too heavy, go early to the airport. The staff will often let you move things between your bags if they are a little overweight.
Depending on the country you're going to, there are different tip cultures and it's important you budget for them. If tips are expected then sometimes the staff will make less in wages and not paying the appropriate tip will leave them shortchanged. For example, not everyone tips hotel room cleaners or bell hops, but it's traditional to do that in many places. Also, some locales have mandatory tips included in your bill. Be sure to do some research into tipping at your destination before you go.
Avoid Budget Surprises
Knowing all the extra fees that might crop up beforehand will help you know what to expect and budget for before you leave. That will mean you'll be less likely to stress about money while you're there and you can enjoy your trip more.
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*Visa Int./ Licensed User
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