SOURCE: Cheapflights.com

Cheapflights.com

October 07, 2015 10:11 ET

Cheapflights.com Spotlights Travel Fees to Avoid Throughout Your Journey

Details 8 Ways Fees Can Bust Your Travel Budget and Offers Tips on How to Keep Them in Check

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwired - Oct 7, 2015) -  No doubt, taking a vacation is fun and exciting. However, getting a handle on your budget can be tricky. On top of planning for flights, hotel and car rental as well as dining, activities and shopping, there is the ever-increasing array of fees and surcharges to consider. It could drive any budget-conscious traveler crazy. The travel experts at Cheapflights.com, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, are here to help with a breakdown of 8 Ways Fees Can Bust Your Travel Budget to guide you through the maze of hidden and not-so-hidden charges that can drive up costs when you aren't looking. And, of course, the team offers advice for minimizing -- or avoiding altogether -- fees that are lurking at every point in your travels.

Below are four travel fees to be aware (and beware) of, plus tips on how to keep them from taking a major bite out of your budget.

  • Booking Fees - With the increasing popularity of booking travel online, many airlines and travel websites now charge booking fees for folks who prefer to book travel over the phone. Even if you opt to book online, beware of any online booking fees. That small $5 fee adds up if you're booking travel for multiple people. Besides, you could use that $5 to buy a beverage during your travels.
    • Avoid booking fees by shopping around and comparing prices. Whether you book from a third party or direct from the airline, hotel or car rental company, be sure to read all the fine print.
  • Baggage fees - In an exceedingly long list of amenities that are no longer complimentary, checked bags, and even carry-on bags on Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit airlines, were added to the litany of little luxuries like meals, snacks, pillows, blankets and headsets once afforded to travelers. In addition to charging for checked luggage, airlines also assess charges for overweight baggage and excess baggage.
    • Avoid baggage fees by packing less, booking the right airline or fare class and planning ahead.
      • Checked baggage fees: Avoid checked baggage fees altogether by learning to travel with one carry-on bag (yes, it is possible). With the right suitcase, tools, tips like our How to Travel with One Carry-on and planning, you can pack it all in and not fret about fees or finding space in the overhead bin. Or book an airline or fare class that suits your needs. JetBlue may have abandoned free bags on its lowest fare flights, but it's generally cheaper to book a Blue Plus ticket, which includes a free bag, than to pay for a last minute bag check. And most airlines will charge you less if you pay in advance for checking your luggage. If you fly often with luggage on the same airline, consider a credit card with that airline (free bag check is a common perk). Finally, if you are really going to be saddled with baggage (think ski or golf vacation), compare pricing with services like Luggage Forward, which provides door-to-door shipping for all your gear.
      • Overweight baggage fees: To avoid overweight baggage fees, weigh your bag at home before heading to the airport. Lighten the load by removing that extra pair of shoes or non-essential extra outfit. Leave the toiletries at home too. You can use the complimentary hotel amenities or stock up at the store at your destination. If you're traveling back from your dream vacation and can't bear the thought of not shopping until you drop, inquire if your purchases can be mailed directly from the shops or hotel; it might be free or cheaper than what the airline will charge for an extra bag. Consider upgrading your seat to business or first class on international flights by paying or using reward points to do so. You'll not only get more legroom, but you'll likely get a larger bag allowance too. If you're traveling with friends, see if they can help lighten your load. If all else fails, redistribute items between your checked and carry-on bags.

  • Customs entrance/exit fees - Once you've decided on your destination, do research on the destination you are headed to see if it requires a visa. Also, check to see if there is an exit fee (a small fee charged at the border). Even if your destination doesn't require a visa, you might still be stuck with an exit fee or "Air Passenger Duty." At the time of booking, inquire whether your airline ticket includes the destination's fees to avoid any surprises. If you are traveling on a cruise, be wary of port fees. When a cruise ship docks at a port of call, they are charged a government-imposed port fee that is passed on to the consumer. Some cruise ships add this to the cost of the cruise.
    • Here's how to avoid customs entrance and exit fees:
      • Customs entrance/visa fees: Avoid excess visa fees for last minute processing by applying well in advance. If you can, go directly to the embassy or consulate to apply for the visa. You'll save on express mailing your travel documents. If you use a third-party service, the company will likely charge a service fee on top of the visa processing fees.
      • Exit fees: If you don't want to deal with visa fees and exit fees, select destinations that don't require visas or charge exit fees. Also, if there are multiple airports in a country, check to see if the fees charged are lower or eliminated from one airport to the next as the fees are not always uniform. Be warned that sometimes these fees need to be paid in cash upon departure, so you need to plan ahead for payment.
      • Port fees: Ask the cruise ship company or travel agent if the quoted price includes port fees (and all fees for that matter). Larger cruise liners tend to include them, but it doesn't hurt to ask. If the port fees are piling up, book a cruise with fewer stops or book earlier as rates tend to be much lower when booked months in advance. Traveling during the off-season also helps drive costs down.

  • Credit card transaction fees: You've been embracing your inner shopaholic while abroad only to come home and find your credit card provider has slapped you with credit card transaction fees for each and every purchase you made abroad. Some credit cards and banks also charge a currency conversion fee.
    • Avoid credit card transaction fees by getting a credit card that doesn't add a foreign transaction fee to your charges. While you're at it, also get a card that offers rewards for your spending. Call your bank or credit card before you leave to find out about any and all fees that you may incur when traveling abroad. Also, when you're in a store overseas and you're presented with the option to pay in the local currency or that of your home country, always opt for the local currency. The dynamic currency conversion option is based on a poor exchange rate, which means you will end up paying more. Plus, your credit card company may still charge you a foreign transaction fee.

Other unfortunate travel fees that can wreak havoc on your budget include hotel fees, such as resort fees, airport shuttle, bed type guarantee and early check-in/late check-out; car rental fees, such as rental insurance, extra drivers, alternate drop-off location; rebooking fees; and reward travel fees. To get all the information on the 8 Ways Fees Can Bust Your Travel Budget and tips to avoid them, visit www.cheapflights.com/news/8-ways-fees-can-bust-your-travel-budget.

About Cheapflights.com, part of the Momondo Group
 
Momondo Group is an online travel media and technology company that is driven by the belief that an open world is a better world. The group now serves travel search and inspiration to over 17.5 million visitors a month - plus 8 million travel newsletter subscribers - via its Cheapflights (www.cheapflights.com) and momondo (www.momondo.com) brands. Skygate began the sourcing of complex air-travel data in 1992, while Cheapflights pioneered the online comparison of flight deals for users in 1996 and momondo launched meta-search in the Nordic countries in 2006. The Group has offices in London, Copenhagen and Boston with a consumer base across more than 30 core international markets but users all over the world.

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