Whether you’re heading to sunny Honolulu or the bustling metropolis of New York for your next vacation, booking your trip online can help you snag some great deals on your travel package. Several online travel sites make it simple to compare fares from major airlines, book a discounted package with your hotel and rental car, and keep track of fare drops for certain dates of travel. Still, it’s buyer beware when it comes to booking vacations online.
I book most of my vacations using travel aggregators and third-party sites, but I’ve learned that not all great deals are what they seem. Many sites don’t tell you about resort fees, taxes and other costs until the final stages of the trip confirmation, and it’s easy to miss these extra costs when you’re speeding through the online checkout process. There are plenty of vacation deals out there and it is possible to find low fares and discounts without the help of a travel agent – you just need to be aware of hidden fees and costs when booking online.
Here are some other important things to consider before you book vacations online:
Travel Protection Plans
Some travel sites will automatically add trip protection to the cost of your trip without your official consent. You do have the option to remove this extra cost but you have to watch for it during the checkout process. Trip protection can cost up to $30 or more per booking, so make sure you take a close look at the cost breakdown of your trip before you submit your credit card information.
Fees for Additional Guests
Unless you specify how many guests will be staying in the hotel room, the booking site may assume one or two guests as the default. You’ll be responsible for paying an “additional guest fee” upon arrival, so make sure you know what this is before you book. Your best bet is to include the number of guests in your initial search so that you really are getting the best deal.
Some hotels charge an additional fee for a cot, crib or a rollaway bed. Make sure you know what these fees are before booking the room. If you’re booking through an online travel site, you can call the hotel separately to find out what the policy is – this information may or may not be disclosed at the time of booking.
When you’re staying at a resort, you may need to pay a daily resort fee that covers the costs of pool or fitness center access, valet parking, Internet access and other perks. Some third-party travel sites let you know what the daily resort fee is, but it’s not always disclosed. You’ll need to calculate this into the total cost of your trip to get your “bottom line” price.
Some of the best online travel deals are non-refundable, so make sure you’re really ready to commit to taking the trip before confirming your reservations. In some cases, you won’t even be able to get a credit for the trip. Read the fine print and stick with a refundable option if there’s even a slight chance that you might have to reschedule or cancel your reservations.