Hidden Travel Expenses You Should Budget For

By Barry Choi

When you start to plan for a vacation, obvious expenses such as transportation, accommodations, food and attractions are always top of mind. But it’s important to remember that there are plenty of smaller fees that can add up, too. Keep your spending on track by accounting for these seven “hidden” travel expenses.

If you’re flying overseas, you’ll likely get one checked bag free, but if you’re travelling within North America, you’re probably going to have to pay at least $30 for each checked bag. For a family of four, that’s $240 for a round trip. If you can, fly only with carry-on luggage to save some cash. Your AMA Travel counsellor can advise whether or not your airline ticket includes baggage fees.

You’ve paid for your flights, but how are you going to get around once you’ve arrived? If you’d prefer not to rent a car, or rely on taxis or services like Uber (the fees for which will start adding up), get familiar with how public transit works in the city you’re visiting. There’s a good chance that there’s an app available for your destination where you can download a trip planner so you’ll never get lost. And don’t forget that walking from place to place can be the very best way to explore a new city.

Depending on where you’re visiting, you may need to get a vaccination or bring medication with you. Unfortunately, Alberta Health Care does not cover the cost of vaccinations or any medication that’s related to your travels. Although you’ll have to pay out of pocket, it’ll be worth it if it keeps you healthy while you’re away. Seeking medical attention once you step outside Alberta can get expensive (and even if you’re just going to another province, certain costs may not be covered). So make sure you purchase travel medical insurance before you depart. Investing in coverage is relatively inexpensive and it gives you the peace of mind that medical assistance won’t blow your budget.

Did you know that most credit cards charge a 2.5 percent (or greater) fee on top of the spend whenever you make a purchase in a foreign currency? You likely didn’t notice, because that fee gets built into the conversion that ends up on your credit card statement. If you put the majority of your out-of-country purchases—from meals to attraction tickets to souvenirs—on your credit card, those extra few dollars for each transaction do tend to add up. Want to get a bit of that back? Using your National Bank CAA Rewards Mastercard means you’ll earn 1% in reward dollars on eligible purchases.

Cash or credit: What’s the best option when you’re travelling?

You can rely on Wi-Fi at hotels and airports, but if you prefer to stay connected, you may need to budget for a data plan. Your roaming data fees charged by your home carrier are probably quite high, but some offer special plans for travellers that could be of good value. If your phone is unlocked, you could buy a less-expensive data plan from a local carrier at your destination. For the rest of us, it’s increasingly easy to rent a portable Wi-Fi device for seamless internet access. Look online before your trip: Various companies will send the pocket-sized gadget to your destination. You simply use it (typically for a daily flat rate) then mail it back before you leave.

The price that you were quoted for your hotel looked great, but did it include taxes and/or resort fees? Taxes could easily add five to 15 per cent to your bill, while resort fees can cost $50-plus a night. How about parking: are there any free spots on site? These extra charges are pretty standard, so make sure you find out exactly what’s included before making a reservation.

Learn all the ways you can save on travel with AMA by visiting AMATravel.ca or calling 1-866-667-4777