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Save for the unexpected when traveling so you can vacation happy.

You’ve saved and scrimped. Spent hours searching for the best travel deals. Booked your flight and reserved your room. The budget is set for your meals, shopping and activities. All that’s left is daydreaming about your getaway and the countdown to checking out of the real world. Right? Wait. Not so fast.

Don’t let your travel budget go bust. Before you head out on your next big adventure, remember to plan for the not-so-obvious costs you’ll encounter along the way. Here are nine of travel’s most-common surprise expenses:

Transportation to your accommodations

When traveling to a major city, you may choose public transit instead of renting a car. While it’s likely the most economically and environmentally friendly option, consider how you’ll get to and from the airport. Most airports are several miles from city centers, and rides there and back can be costly.

Airport surcharges and expenses

Overnight parking and pricey food and drinks are the most common costs at the airport. There are also baggage fees to consider. Check with the airline to see how many bags they allow and how much they charge. With some airlines, you’ll have to pay for your carry-on luggage, too.

Gratuities for service

Sure, you expect to pay gratuities when dining out. But there are other gratuities to consider when traveling, such as tipping your housekeeper, valet attendant and bellhop. If you’re on a cruise, gratuities are more significant and typically get added to your final bill automatically.

Staying connected

Hopefully, you’re not checking your work emails on vacation. After all, this is a time to unplug, reset and refresh. But, you’re probably going to share your favorite moments on social media and you’re going to call home. With that in mind, you’ll want to be ready for daily Wi-Fi fees at the hotel and airport, as well as roaming charges from your mobile carrier (especially if you’re traveling internationally).

Government taxes and fees

For domestic travel, you may come across state and local occupancy taxes when checking out of your accommodations. If you’re traveling by car, always check your route for tolls and plan accordingly. When traveling internationally, you may encounter entry and departure fees in particular countries. Also, be sure to find out if a travel visa is required and how much it will cost.

Incidentals at the hotel

Some hotels charge daily resort, cleaning or activity fees. If you’re staying in a large city, be prepared to pay for parking if you drove or rented a car. Some hotels charge as much as $60 a night for parking, so check ahead of time.

Equipment rental

Are you headed to a theme park? Are you bringing young children or someone who may need mobility assistance? Then budget a little extra for stroller or wheelchair rentals — you can expect to pay at least $15 per day. Be sure to find out before you head out.

Don’t let foreign transaction fees take you by surprise.

Currency Exchange and Foreign Transaction Fees

If you’re traveling abroad, you could encounter foreign transaction fees when using a debit card.

Since these fees are typically accrued on a per-charge basis, you’re going to want to use a credit card that doesn’t apply these fees instead. Another alternative is paying with the local currency. Just be aware that there are fees for currency conversion as well, but they can be minimized by converting more cash less often.


Let’s face it, reality can strike at any time — even when you’re on vacation. From vehicle breakdowns to medical emergencies to weather events, there’s always the possibility for a mishap. Rather than using your credit card, use the money you saved for unexpected events from your Emergency Savings Account. Adding travel insurance is always a smart idea, too.

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