Traveling is expensive enough without paying extra for things you don’t really need. Last year domestic airfare prices jumped more than 8 percent. Add to that the increasing costs of hotels and rental cars and the cost of travel becomes even higher.
There are many new fees or surcharges for things we used to get for nothing. To help from breaking your budget on your next trip, here are 6 easily avoided travel fees:
1. Booking by Phone
Booking your flight over the phone instead of using the Internet, nearly all major airlines charge booking fees of $25 to $35 for this service. To avoid the surcharge, just book online. Usually, the best deals are listed on the airlines’ websites.
2. Rental Car Insurance
Before leaving on a trip, check with your insurance agent and credit card company to see what kind of coverage you have for car rentals. If your credit card already offers sufficient protection, you could decline the optional coverage. Just be sure to use that credit card when you make your rental reservation.
3. Selected Seats
If you want to choose a particual seat, you may have to pay an extra fee. Many airlines, such as AirTran and Spirit, charge you to select the seat you want. At AirTran, the cost ranges from $6 to $20 per ticket. You may also have to pay a surcharge if you want to sit in a row that has extra legroom. At Spirit, the fees for seats with more leg space start at $12 if reserved in advance.
4. Checking Your Luggage
American and Delta airlines charge $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second one. The airlines do make exceptions. They typically won’t charge the most elite members of their frequent traveler clubs or for passengers who are traveling to certain international destinations.
Otherwise, take a carry-on bag instead of checking your luggage to avoid these travel fees. If you do need to check a bag, be sure to pack light. Major airlines charge fees of up to $90 per bag for overweight luggage that weighs 51 to 70 pounds, and the prices increase for heavier bags.
Also, check with your airline to see if it gives a discount for online baggage checking. For example, US Airways charges $20 for the first checked bag that’s ordered online, compared to $25 to check bags at the airport.
5. Pillows on Planes
Many airlines now charge you for a pillow. US Airways charges $7 for what’s called a Power-Nap Sack. The package is an upgrade from a standard issue pillow. It includes a blanket, inflatable neck pillow, eye shades and an earplug. It also includes a coupon for a future purchase from SkyMall, an in-flight shopping catalog. American Airlines has a similar blanket and pillow package for $8. The new products are nice and convenient, but if you don’t want to pay this travel fee, just bring a small pillow of your own.
6. Hotel Wi-Fi
Many major hotel chains, including Marriott (MAR) and Sheraton (HOT), charge for high-speed Internet access in your hotel room. Fees start at about $10 to $15 per day. If you have a smartphone with a data plan, you can skip the hotel Internet altogether and just use your phone. If you don’t have a smart phone, ask if free Wi-Fi is available in common areas, such as the lobby. Or, ask the front desk if there are restaurants that offer free Wi-Fi nearby.
A little saved here and there can add up fast and save quite a bit over the course of a vacation or business trip.