Many of us get into “travel hacking” because of the prospect of “free travel.” Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a free lunch (unless Ed from Pizza in Motion is buying) and there are a number of unexpected costs that are bound to pop up without you expecting it, so it’s important to be prepared and budget appropriately.
You just unloaded all of your Marriott points on a 10 night trip to Scrub Island Resort in the British Virgin Islands but when you get the bill you see a charge for $350….huh? Unfortunately, you’ve just been nailed by the elusive resort fee ($35 per night).
It’s often the case that a resort fee comes with some sort of benefit like free water bottles, WiFi, and free use of the hotel bicycles, etc, but I’ve stayed at a hotel where the resort fee was $40 and all we got were three water bottles per day!
Any time a hotel has “Resort” in the name you should be prepared to pay a resort fee, but even if it doesn’t you’ll still want to check anyway. Luckily, you can find out this information ahead of time. Call the hotel or go to Resort Fee Checker.
Carrier-imposed fees and departure tax
Did you know whenever you fly from one country to the next, the country you just left probably tacked on a surcharge, or departure tax, to your ticket? Did you also know that some airlines hit you with seemingly arbitrary “Carrier-imposed surcharges”? It’s all built into the cost of paid tickets so you probably didn’t notice, but if you’re booking award tickets, you’ll find this information as soon as you are ready to book that flight.
For example, you FINALLY saved up enough American Airlines miles to fly with your significant other on the majestic British Airways 747 Queen of the Skies to London. You’re PUMPED to be sitting in first class for free using your hard-earned miles. Then…
BAM. Not only are you giving up your life savings of AA miles, but you have to pay nearly $3,000, too! To be fair, these two tickets retail for close to $20,000 so you’re getting a deal…right? Sorry, I don’t care how you cut it. BA is public enemy number one when it comes to these BS fees so steer clear if possible!
“Free” water bottle charges
You check in to your hotel room, you’re thirsty as all hell, and of course the desk agent didn’t offer any complimentary water. You see three bottles of water lined up on the dresser, one of which has a neck tag. You down two bottles of water and later that night when you return home in your drunken stooper, you grab the necktag bottle and down it.
Do this the next night too.
While this is an extreme example and you’ll most likely see the price on the bottle and stop yourself, an inexperienced traveler may not necessarily know these beverages aren’t complimentary. I’ve seen water bottles cost as much as $12 in hotel rooms and that can get pricey real quick!
Rental car facility charges
You have 3,000 otherwise useless Hertz points and you want to book a car for your upcoming trip. You already dropped a ton of money on the hotel room and flights so you’re happy that you can book this car for free with points. You get the bill and see the following…
Rant over — what ancillary travel fees do you find most annoying?