Updated December 15th, 2022 from July 15, 2018
“I love to throw away money”, said no traveller ever. It sounds a little ridiculous, but so many travellers throw away hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of dollars on fees that may not be necessary.
When planning a trip, you look at the airfare, hotel charges and figure out on spending money on food, adventures and maybe souvenirs. What you may not think about when booking that trip is all of the extra travel fees that you will pay on your journey. Not all of them you can avoid (or want to avoid), but many of them you may not even know you are paying until it’s too late.
Take it from me, before I became the “savvy traveller” I am today, I paid a lot of travel fees and wish I had that money back now to go on more adventures.
So, what are these standard fees? Here are five fees that can be avoidable when you travel.
Airline WiFi Fee
Nothing aggravates me more than spending a small fortune for airfare and then having to pay for WiFi on a flight. If you are working from the plane, there may not be any way to get around it; however, if you are just taking a trip for pleasure, you may be able to avoid these travel fees.
How to Avoid It:
Download your ebooks, audiobooks, a decent amount of music on your device to use offline, so you don’t need WiFi. If getting WiFi is unavoidable, check your credit card to see if there are any perks. For example, when flying American Airlines, if you are using gogoinflight.com, certain credit cards like the American Express Corporate Card may be eligible for free in-flight WiFi. If you are a frequent traveller or your trip had multiple legs, it may be worth it to buy the monthly pass as it would pay for itself after three segments.
Many airlines will let you get on to their website or the gogoinflight.com site to get free entertainment.
Hotel WiFi Fee
I also hate paying for WiFi at the hotel. After all, it’s 2022; WiFi is accessible pretty much anywhere!!! You don’t have to pay the ridiculous fee to use it for the day! Try this instead:
How to Avoid it:
Head to your local coffee shop, fast food restaurant or even the hotel lobby. Many hotels will have free WiFi in common areas. Also, check your hotel rewards cards (and sign up for every hotel you stay at); many will offer free WiFi to rewards members. Check your data plan, and if you have a lot of unused data, you may want to just use your phone as a hotspot for your other devices and forgo the WiFi completely.
Checked Bag Fee
Many airlines offer the first checked bag for free with a basic ticket. Some airlines, however, will not do so for the economy or basic fare. If you can’t pack a carry-on or you can’t fit everything you need into it, your options are limited, but there are some ways you can save.
How to Avoid It:
Weigh out the option of purchasing the more expensive ticket and overpaying the bag fees. Sometimes the extra $20 you will spend will ensure you won’t pay $30-$50+ on bag fees.
If you don’t have frequent flyer status, it doesn’t mean that you are going always to have to pay bag fees. Sign up for an airline credit card for the airline you primarily fly with or look for travel cards that offer rewards like a free checked bag.
Learn how to pack light! Take less. You would be surprised at how little you can get by with it. Remember, many hotels have laundry services, so if you are staying somewhere for an extended period of time, send out laundry. Stick to a capsule wardrobe when travelling with just a few essentials and you can pack in your Ebags suitcase carry-on.
If you do have to pay, make sure you check to see if your airline allows you to purchase bag check claims ahead of time at a discount when booking your ticket.
Data Roaming Fees/ International Calling Fees
One of the most frustrating things about traveling abroad is figuring out a cost-effective way to use your mobile phone while avoiding roaming charges
Did you ever hear about the man who downloaded WallE for his child when travelling and ended up with a $19,000 data bill? There are a million stories like this. The easiest way to avoid data charges is to use WiFi, but what if WiFi is unavailable?
How to Avoid It:
Check with your carrier to see if they offer a plan for international calling and data. Some carriers will let you pay per day. The fee may seem steep at first, but it is way less than getting a bill for thousands of dollars. Another option is to buy a hotspot device which connects you to WiFi no matter where you are.
I recently received the Skyroam Solis device to test out. It works in over 135 countries, with more countries added each year. Global Day passes start at $13.00 CAD each, or you can buy a for $17 CAD pay per gig international. Check the plans carefully to see what works best for you. You can buy or rent a Skyroam Solis device for use.
KnowRoaming is another product I received to try out in my travels. Popular with travellers in North America. KnowRoaming currently supports 200 countries, and the rates vary depending on the type of user you are. The cost is based on what plan you choose and how many gigabytes you require. All you have to do is download an ESIM to get started. Note this service is strictly for data usage, your original carrier provides voice services.
You’ll also find that you are much more able to avoid these kinds of fees if you have planned ahead with the right provider. To help with that, it can be useful to find a guide for wherever you are going, where you should be able to find such information that you can then easily make use of. For instance, you might be going to Maui, and so you’ll need a Maui travel guide. That is the kind of thing that can help you to do this and therefore avoid those fees.
Rental Car Fees
Rental cars can be the most significant source of fees. Some companies will charge in excess of $30 USD daily for the optional insurance coverage. Another sneaky fee they have for rental cars is the fuel-up fee. If you return your car at less than full, they could charge you up to $10 per gallon for fuel.
How to Avoid It:
Before taking your trip, call your insurance carrier and see if your car insurance will cover any damage to the rental car. If they won’t, call any credit cards you have to see if you have travel protection. Many credit cards will have insurance coverage as part of their benefits.
Also, don’t get stuck in the empty tank trap. Before you return your car, fill it up!
As you know, there are some fees you can’t avoid when travelling – like resort fees, but many of these other fees you can avoid by simply planning ahead, making concessions and taking advantage of rewards programs available to you.
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