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BBB: Avoid hidden travel fees in planning your next trip

When planning for a vacation, it’s easy to accidentally let additional travel expenses build up.
When planning for a vacation, it’s easy to accidentally let additional travel expenses build up.(WILX)
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:15 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - When planning for a vacation, it’s easy to accidentally let additional travel expenses build up.

A technique called drip pricing hides the full effect of expenses because they slowly add other charges throughout the buying or booking process.

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau recommends avoiding these kinds of hidden travel fees:

  • Resort fees. These fees are also called “destination fees” or “urban fees.” They’re often not listed on hotel aggregator websites, which means you won’t see the hotel’s final price until a later page. To avoid these fees, book hotels that don’t charge resort fees, get elite status at a large hotel chain if you travel often or use loyalty points for your stay.
  • Hospitality tax. Some cities charge hotel or hospitality taxes. These charges aren’t included in the hotel’s nightly rate. Check the total amount you’ll be paying to see if you will be charged any extra taxes.
  • Airport shuttle services. Not all shuttle services are free. Just because an airport offers these services doesn’t mean it’s complementary. If you have to pay for shuttle services, compare prices with other transportation services before you book. You might pay less and have a shorter wait with another company.
  • Parking. Not all hotels have free parking, so check before you book, especially in high-traffic areas with limited parking space.
  • Hotel amenities. Poolside towels, early check-in, in-room snacks and continental breakfast may not be included in your room rate. Avoid a bigger bill than you expected by asking before you use these extras.
  • Packing extras. Avoid baggage fees by reducing your luggage to a single carry-on. Keep in mind that some airlines also charge for carry-on bags. Research baggage fees before booking a flight since baggage charges vary airline to airline.
  • Airline ticket extras. Picking your seats, in-flight entertainment, headphones, snacks, beverages, pillows, blankets and in-flight WiFi are not always free. Airlines can add extra fees for services that used to be included in the price of your ticket. Bring it yourself, or ask if things are free before you use them.
  • Check-in. Some airlines are now charging to check you in and print a boarding pass at the airport. Speak with the airline ahead of time if you prefer to check in in person. Otherwise, check in ahead of time online and use the self-check kiosks.
  • Change and cancellation. Many airlines are advertising free cancellations and change policies, but there are usually limitations. A free cancellation may not mean you’ll be reimbursed in cash. They may simply offer a voucher to fly another time, within a specified period.
  • Roaming charges. If you’re traveling outside your home country, check with your cell provider about roaming charges before you leave. You may need to sign up for a package in advance. Another option is to turn off your phone data and use WiFi when necessary. If your phone is unlocked, you can purchase a local SIM card for calls in your destination country.
  • Currency exchanges. Changing currency at the airport or a big hotel isn’t always best. These places charge steep exchange rates and can also charge foreign transaction fees. Instead, get local currency out of a local ATM. Check with your bank about international fees beforehand. Some credit cards don’t charge foreign transaction fees, so this may be a better alternative.
  • Visa and tourist fees. Many countries have changed the length and cost of their tourist visas. U.S. citizens should check here to find out what they need to enter another country.

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