When planning a vacation, people often consider the following: accommodation, plane tickets and pocket money, forgetting that there are many other things that need to be taken into account and that often cost much more than the dedicated trip budget.
The list of additional things to consider:
1. Airport Transfer
Thoroughly research your options taking into account the price you are willing to pay. Whether you choose a taxi, Uber, Lyft (my personal favourite – where applicable), shuttle bus, train or any other kind of transport, it will cost you at least 10 euros to get to the airport as well as to leave it. The best and the cheapest option is to be taken by someone you know which is not always possible. If you are driving to the airport, add the parking charges to the trip total.
If you haven’t made a detailed plan, there is a big possibility that once you reach your destination, you will choose the fastest and the most expensive option due to tiredness and the desire to get to your hotel as soon as possible. Annoying baggage and travelling with children will most certainly increase your stress levels and the need to find a fast solution.
Be prepared: Before your trip, always research the distance from the airport to your accommodation and if possible, prearrange the transfer. Sometimes the hotels offer shuttle bus service included in the price (from my experience – Hotel Nuevo Boston in Madrid); if that is not an option, most of the taxi services, as well as Uber, have fixed prices for airport transfers. Some cities have very good public transport and you can check beforehand what kind of transport operates on the desired route, what are the prices and their reliability. In order to avoid having empty pockets sooner than planned, it is important to prepare everything in advance.
2. Entry and Departure Tax
Many countries charge entry/departure tax and the price can vary depending on the length of your stay.
Be prepared: These taxes are normally paid upon arrival at the airport and are sometimes included in the price of the ticket. Make sure you check in advance (the list of countries charging this type of tax with the amounts) whether the country you are visiting charges this tax. Note that many developing countries do not accept credit cards, which is why you either have to carry US dollars or the local currency.
Depending on your destination and the country of your origin, you might need a visa. Every government website has a page dedicated to the visa regimes, so use the internet.
Be prepared: Some countries require a visa that has to be obtained in the country of origin and without it you won’t even be allowed to board a plane, whilst others might stamp your passport with a visa upon arrival. These costs can be relatively high, so have them in mind – US visa is $160 (lasts 10 years), UK visa for six months (multiple entries) costs around 100 euros and an Australian visa costs AUD135 (around $100) and lasts from three months up to a year. Be mindful of the “time cost” – US visa is approved within days, UK within several weeks and the Australian one between two days and several months. These costs are fixes and there is no refund even if you are refused a visa.
For example, UK government offers travel advice where you can choose your destination and check what you might need.
4. Mobile Phone Data
If you are not careful, this can end up being a serious mistake that you will be paying for months after returning from a trip. It is highly likely that you will need internet while abroad and if there is no Wi-Fi available, you might be tempted to switch on the data roaming on your phone, which can end up being pricey.
Be prepared: Check the prices of the data packages while roaming (often country dependent) with your mobile provider. If your trip is a bit longer, the cheapest option might be to get a local SIM card – research the best deals available.
Every country is different. In some of them, leaving the tip is considered rude, whilst in others it is a given and you can potentially find yourself in an awkward situation if you only pay the bill.
Be prepared: Do some research and find out what the local tipping policy. In some countries, like Australia and New Zealand, tipping is not necessary, whilst in the US it is customary to leave at least 15% (preferably rounded up to 20%). You are also expected to tip the taxi drivers, bell boys, cleaners etc.
6. Parking and toll
If you are going on a road trip, you have probably taken into account the cost of petrol, but you might have forgotten about the toll charges, as well as parking charges.
Be prepared: Some European countries, like Hungary and Austria, charge vignettes and you could find yourself in trouble if you haven’t obtained one. Other countries have tolls. Automobile Association in UK offers advice on the European tolls. When it comes to parking, plan for the worst possible scenario (for example, parking in Venice costs 30 euros whether you are parked two hours all the entire day). If the hotel offers parking services, check if it is included in the price.
7. Money exchange, cash machines and other transactions
Getting cash abroad may incur additional costs. Depending on your bank, cash machines can charge around $5 per transaction, whilst bank transactions vary between 1% and 3%. Some money exchanges charge over 10%, so be mindful.
Be prepared: Enquire in your bank how much they charge for card usage (all banks have their own exchange rates for all currencies that are not favourable from the perspective of a customer). Some credit cards do not incur transaction costs but be sure to check whether you have one of these. In order not to lose a lot of money, it is good to have cash in local currency.
8. High prices at airports
We all know that airport prices are higher than the ones in normal stores and cafes. In some cases, after having a coffee, a soft drink or something to eat, you cannot help but feel robbed. On top of that, if your hand luggage is bigger than allowed, you will be required to pay a ridiculous price.
Be prepared: Buy books, magazines, souvenirs and travel pillows before getting to the airport, otherwise you might spend a small fortune on this.
9. Emergency Situations
The emergency cases cannot be predicted or planned for, however there are precautions that we can take to mitigate the costs that we might face due to something going wrong – without having travel insurance, potential hospital bills might be in the region of a few thousand Euros.
Be prepared: Never travel without having travel insurance. This is of particular significance if the trip is longer, if you are visiting third world countries, if you are renting a car or f your trip is meant to be filled with adventures – this can save your life, or in the best case, your wallet. Shop around on the internet for the best travel insurance and don’t forget to check whether it is a part of an insurance policy you are already paying or whether it comes as a perk of your credit card for example.
10. Taxes and Additional Accommodation Charges
Hidden accommodation charges can completely ruin the last day of your vacation and eave you penniless. Outrageous mini-bar, Wi-Fi and parking costs can be added to your bill upon check out. That, however, is not the craziest thing – some hotels charge the use of the safe in the rooms, as well as air-condition utilization.
Be prepared: The information about potential unpleasant surprises can be found on websites such as ResortChecker and hotelwifitest. Have a look at the comments on these websites (as well as on booking.com or airbnb.com if you are using them to book accommodation), as this might give you pretty accurate information about the quality of the service, location, hidden charges and general accommodation impressions.
Extra tip: If you use this link you will get 20 dollars discount on your next booking!
The final additional charges that you might face are taxes that might be country specific. Do not be surprised if you pay tax on something you bought abroad (especially when it comes to buying tech equipment) and then pay it again when coming back home. Sometimes you get an unpleasant surprise at the till because the price tags don’t include the tax.
Be prepared: In order to avoid paying the tax twice, ask for the tax refund forms after your purchases which you will use at the airport (at the border or upon return to your country) to claim the tax back. However, this is sometimes very complicated and time consuming that it doesn’t make sense to do it, so make sure you have all the information.
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Photo: © Bojan Bokic