The Hidden Expenses of Travel

Written By Bre Bush  |  Young Finances  |  7 Comments

The costs of travel – especially international travel – can be steep.

The last thing you need are hidden expenses, no matter how small, sneaking up on you. While $25 here and there may not seem like much, it can truly add up when you account for all the unanticipated costs of travel.

The next time you are planning a trip, be sure to include these hidden expenses of travel in your budget so as not to be blindsided by them.

Travel Insurance

If you’re traveling abroad, it’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance. While not typically required for a leisure vacation, protecting yourself against risk, such as sickness or injury, theft or damage to belongings and trip cancellation, will be crucial in the case of something detrimental.

Depending on the extent of the coverage you purchase, it can cost anywhere from $60 to $200+.

International Bank Charges

Every bank has different charges for international usage, so be sure to find the information for your bank. It’s a good idea to get a credit card that does not charge international fees for purchases.

But, some countries don’t take credit cards as often as the U.S. and you may need to use ATMs for cash. There is usually a percentage charge on the amount withdrawn from an ATM plus an international fee of around $5 per withdrawal, depending on the bank.

While not much, it can add up after repeated withdrawals.

Try pulling out as much cash in one withdrawal as possible.

Tip: Some banks, like Bank of America, have alliances with international banks and don’t charge fees. Call your bank to see if they partner with any international ATMs/banks that won’t charge you a fee for withdrawing cash.

Currency Exchange Rates

Another expense to account for when you travel internationally is the currency exchange rate. Where you travel will have a huge impact on how far your money will go. Be sure to thoroughly research your planned destinations and allow extra money for money exchange.

Also, currency exchange rates tend to fluctuate, so check the rate frequently and measure the expense of exchanging money to a new currency.


Some of your activities while traveling may require a deposit.

While you’ll likely get this money back, it’s important to ensure that you have enough cash to cover these deposits when you partake in said activities. For example, riding scooters or jet skis will probably cost you a hefty deposit in case of damage.

If you rent a boat, you will probably have to pay a deposit. And, some accommodations may require a deposit in case of damage to the housing. These are just a few examples, but something to keep in mind wen planning your activities for your trip.

Baggage Charges

So you scored that great deal on the budget airline. But then they hit you with a multitude of charges. One of which being hold baggage charges. If you plan on checking a bag, it may be to your benefit to travel with a slightly better airline.

Budget airlines will charge you extra to check a bag.

If you can carry on your luggage, then you are probably okay. Just make sure you watch the weight of your bag on any airline as overweight luggage will get you hit with another extra charge.

Tip: Budget airlines will also charge for food and drinks, not give them to you for free. So bring items on board or be prepared to pay a very steep price for snacks and beverages.

Seat Reservation

Most airlines, not just budget airlines, will also charge you to choose your seat. On long international flights, it may to your benefit to reserve a seat in which you’d be more comfortable – and that might require absorbing the cost.

However, if you don’t mind your seat, or need to save a little bit of money, try to avoid this added expense.


In America, we have become accustomed to free wireless Internet anywhere we go. But that is not always the case in airports, hotels and other countries. You cannot always rely on access to free Wi-Fi.

However, Wi-Fi is a commodity and can be sacrificed to reduce those extra costs of travel. In fact, it may be a blessing in disguise to disconnect yourself from the online world.

But do keep in mind that Wi-Fi may not always be free and you may have to pay to use it.

Resort/Luxury Fees

A hidden expense of hotels may be that in addition to the nightly rate for the room, you must also pay a mandatory “resort fee.” This usually compensates for usage of things like the pool, fitness room or any other amenities.

To my knowledge, it’s not easy to get this fee waived, so you may be stuck with the additional fee when booking a hotel. To avoid it, try less common forms of accommodations such as hostels, Airbnb or couch surfing.


Like the mandatory resort fees at hotels, hostels may also have hidden expenses for which you should keep an eye out. In some areas, hostels will charge you an extra fee for towels or linens. It is likely in your best interest to bring you own.

Tip: Try a microfiber towel. They take up less space and dry quickly. Or check the details and reviews for the hostel before you book it to ensure you don’t get hit with an extra cost for linens.

Cell Phone Usage

Quite possibly one of the most aggravating hidden costs of travel are those that come from cell phone usage. It is aggravating because it’s possible to be getting charged for things without knowing it.

You must speak with your phone provider before going overseas to figure out how to turn off mobile data on your phone – otherwise you will get charged an outrageous rate per minute for international data roaming. In addition, text messages and phone calls may be quite expensive.

Only use your phone if you absolutely must.

Otherwise, check with your provider to see if there an international plan that you can purchase.

When traveling, especially internationally, it’s important to be as prepared as possible to ensure no financial surprises. Hopefully, this list of 10 hidden expenses will help you anticipate any additional costs you may incur whilst on a vacation.

There are many ways to maximize your budget and save money while traveling that can seriously offset any unexpected expenses you may have. Traveling cheaply became a skill of mine when I was studying abroad.

(No job meant my bank account only went down, never up.)

I made the most of what little spending money I had by using these awesome tools.

1) Couch Surfing

Couch surfing is an awesome lodging alternative. It’s almost always ridiculously cheap – and you get to stay with locals, which gives you a completely unique experience. And, don’t worry, it’s not always literal. People will rent out their spare bedrooms or apartments (not just their couches). So just plug in where you want to go and pick one!

From the website, “Couchsurfing is a global community of 9 million people in more than 120,000 cities who share their life, their world, their journey. Couchsurfing connects travelers with a global network of people willing to share in profound and meaningful ways, making travel a truly social experience.”

2) Airbnb

Similar to couch surfing, this lodging option allows you to find apartments, homes, rooms, villas, or even castles to stay in. Locations are hosted by their owners and all bookings and payments are facilitated by Airbnb’s secure service. With over 800,000 listings worldwide in 190 countries, you’re bound to find something wherever you plan to travel.

3) Ride Share/Carpooling

Need to get somewhere cheap? There are tons of resources out there for ride sharing. It’s much cheaper than trains, planes or buses, and you may even make a few new friends! Here are just a few:

  • Carpooling Europe

Available in: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Greece, UK.

Available in the US.

Available in the US. Mobile app available.

  • Road Sharing

(I don’t know as much about this one, so if anyone has any experience let me know.)

4) Book a Travel Package

Booking your trip in a package can end up saving you lots of money… and headaches! Oftentimes, these packages will have all your accommodations, transportation and activities planned for you, so you can fully relax and enjoy your trip. No worrying about getting from one place to another or finding something to do.

If you’re under the age of 26, EF College Break has tons of really affordable trip packages for you.

I recently went on The Yacht Week, and I highly, highly recommend it for anyone who can stand being on a boat for 7 days.

There is a relatively new program called Camp No Counselors, which is basically an all-inclusive adult summer camp in a few cities in the states.

Also, be sure to check Groupon for any travel packages. (See this post for details).

5) Use Skyscanner

My favorite website for searching flights is Skyscanner. It compares prices and times from different airlines, allowing you to specify what you’re looking for to find the most cost-effective option. Plus, it allows you to be flexible with your dates to find out if flights on different days are cheaper. No matter where you’re flying, Skyscanner is a great tool.

These are only a few of the many resources out there to maximize your travel. I’m always looking for others! Have you used any other tools not named here? Let us know in the comments below!