We always think we’ve planned for everything when we plan a vacation or business trip. We got the best airline deal and hotel package. We’re bringing extra money for all the fun activities and souvenirs we plan to buy. However, there are seven things that always seem to surprise travelers. Here is a list of unexpected expenses you’ll encounter on your international trip. Take these into account when you budget for your next vacation or business trip.
When you leave your home town, ATM fees go up. The further away, the higher they get. Cross state lines and they pop to $2.50 or 3.50. Cross international lines, and they’ll go as high as $15. When I use my American ATM card in most Asian cities, the fee my bank charges me is $7, and then the local bank charges another 3. That’s $10 each time I take cash out. You’ll need to keep this in mind, or get a surprise when you return home to check your bank statement. Don’t take out small amounts often; instead take out one lump sum. Try to minimize the number of times that card needs to be fed into the ATM machine.
Credit Card Fees
Every time you use a credit card in a foreign country, your US bank will charge you a fee. Usually it’s about 3% plus .30, which means a $50 dinner charged will get an extra $1.80 added. A more expensive $300 item will incur a $9.30 fee from your American bank. These fees are usually added a few days after the purchase. When you get back home, you might be shocked to see over $100 in fees added to your statement. Try to use cash when traveling abroad. Do not charge every little cup of coffee.
Travel to and from the Airport
Don’t forget it can be very expensive to get to and from the airport, as most airports are built far from the city. You’ll need to do this 4 times, to get to/from your airport and then again at your destination. I’ve seen airport shuttles run from $10 to $30, and I’ve seen taxi fares as high as $50. Four trips at $50 each will add $200 to your trip. That may even trump the cost of your airline ticket. Even if both cities have low-cost train systems, 4 times $10 will add $40. Bear this in mind.
Airport exit fees
Some international airports have exit fees and taxes. You need to pay this upon leaving that country. For example, Argentina charges $18 that must be paid in cash at the airport. Thailand charges $21, but now it’s added to airline ticket. Make sure you check in advance to see if this fee is added into the ticket or needs to be paid at the airport.
Visa and permit fees
Some countries charge you for a visa on arrival. When I landed in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, I had to pay for a $20 visa to enter the country. This had to be paid in cash – the immigration department does not accept credit cards.
If you’re loading up on souvenirs, your luggage might weigh more on your return. You may even have an extra piece of luggage to bring back. Airlines charge for this extra weight and/or bag. Be prepared to pay this when you check in for your return flight.
Foreign Exchange Rates
These rates change from day to day. Factor in about 2% for the profit of the exchange dealer (called the bid/ask spread). You’ll lose about $2 for every $100 you exchange into a new currency. Just account for this in your budget.
Get some travel insurance for your trip. It’s a good idea to cover yourself in case of an emergency. Don’t expect your American insurance company to come to your rescue – trust me! They stopped caring about you the moment to stepped on the plane. You can also get insurance for trip cancellation, weather hazards, and other unexpected changes to your trip. It’s generally worth the few extra bucks! Give yourself some peace of mind while you relax on the beach.