When I travel, I’m perpetually afraid that I’m getting ripped off – by airlines, by taxi drivers, by hotels – you name it. If I have to pay for it, I figure there’s a good chance I’m paying too much.
This isn’t an unrealistic fear. A lot of the time, we unwitting travelers overpay for all kinds of things, and it’s usually in the form of pesky little fees – often hidden from our awareness, sneakily snuck in to part us with a wee bit more money than we actually needed (or wanted) to pay.
Examples of Hidden Travel Fees
Here are a few random examples of hidden travel fees that are sometimes avoidable, and always annoying:
Some airlines sneak travel insurance into the cost of the flight, and you must go back to a screen to specifically DE-select the insurance. I once found it was so masked in fine print it took me half an hour to locate where to deselect it.
Speaking of sneaky airlines, I once got on a long-haul flight that claimed to offer meal service on the ticket, only to discover it was meal service – for a fee. At 36,000 feet and with a grumbling stomach I didn’t have much choice but to fork over some cash for food.
Hotels are in on the hidden travel fees game too; don’t crack open that “complimentary” bottle of water on your bedside table unless you’re sure it’s free. Although you’d think snacks and drinks placed in your room outside the mini-bar are free, they aren’t always.
Speaking of hotels, they consistently overcharge for currency exchange services. I was given this tip by a hotel concierge, who said I should never use a hotel desk to exchange money.
If you’re renting a car, remember that adding additional drivers to the rental agreement means extra fees. This is never worked into the quote, and can be a nasty surprise when you arrive to pick up the car.
Some of the worst hidden travel fees come with currency conversion. No matter what you do and how you pay, you’re forking out hidden travel fees to convert your money, and more often than not they’re completely invisible to you. The best you can do is to minimize conversion fees; usually by using debit cards or credit cards.
ATMs are not only currency conversion culprits, but they also get you with withdrawal fees. Here are a few tricks to using ATMs abroad so you can keep more money in your bank account instead.
More Hidden Travel Fees
This is just a teaser. The last time I did a count of hidden travel fees, I came up with 37 of them. Some are more hidden than others, but all of them are unnecessary if you know how to avoid them. Check it out: