Commonly Overlooked Travel Expenses that Quickly Add Up

Commonly Overlooked Travel Expenses that Quickly Add Up

Table of Contents

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links. We may receive compensation if you click on a link. We only promote products and services that we use and strongly believe in. Thank you for your support and happy reading!

Summer vacation is just around the corner! Many folks, including Brian and me, are gearing up for their summer getaways. As we anticipate travel plans, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing an increase in forecasted spending and crowds. After all, it’s the peak of vacation season! Planning ahead and budgeting, however, can help us fully enjoy our trips without breaking the bank. In preparation for the summer travel rush, I have created a list of commonly overlooked travel expenses for budget-minded travelers to keep in mind.

Overlooked Travel Expenses

Even the most prepared travelers can find themselves in over-budgeted and unexpected circumstances. Life can throw some interesting curveballs, especially when on the road. Despite careful planning, last-minute travel changes, unexpected fees, or off-the-cuff adventures can derail a strategic budget.

To ensure a more inclusive budget, don’t forget to consider these frequently overlooked travel expenses:

Airport Parking/Transportation

How do you plan on getting to and from the airport? Will you be parking your car at the airport during your trip? These decisions will affect your bottom line. You can save a nice chunk of change if you’re able to utilize efficient public transportation or ask a friend or family member for a lift!

Rental Car Locations

Sometimes it costs more to rent from an airport location than from a city location. Depending on availability and location, Brian and I will choose to rent from an off-site center, which tends to be 30% less expensive than the airport for a round-trip rental. When planning for a trip, consider and compare the cost of renting a vehicle from the airport versus a city location.

Fuel costs

Fuel costs are an ever-fluctuating expense, particularly on long road trips! Even with a fuel-efficient vehicle, you might find yourself strapped for cash during inflation, a time of war, or simply crossing through different states. In fact, on our 2-week west coast road trip, Brian and I found ourselves paying almost $8 per gallon in California. Ouch!

Car Parking

If you’re driving into a popular city center, don’t forget that you’ll have to factor in paid parking. Parkopedia can give you an idea of what to expect before you get into town, though I wouldn’t rely on it completely. Brian and I tend to drive around an area a couple of times to scope out affordable and safe parking options.

It’s also important to keep in mind that some hotels only offer paid parking, which can be a huge expense ranging anywhere from $30 to $80 per night.

Airport Dining

I think it’s fair to say that most of us recognize that airport food is incredibly overpriced. However, it is what it is, especially if you’re entering “hangry” territory or facing a flight delay. Of course, you could bring your own snacks, eat beforehand, or visit an airport lounge if you have access. But sometimes, airport dining may be the only option available to you.

A la carte airfare pricing

Whether you choose to purchase a basic economy ticket from American Airlines or you prefer the bare-bones option of a Spirit flight, remember that you must pay attention to the fine print. Certain amenities are not included in these airfares, as one would expect from a standard, full-service ticket. For instance, an American Airlines basic economy ticket allows for a personal item and a carry-on bag, while seat selection and checked luggage are additional fees.

Brian and I mostly fly low-cost carriers, such as Spirit and Frontier. These airfares only include one personal item. All other conveniences cost extra. We appreciate their transparent pricing, especially since we don’t need extra amenities and can save even more money by buying tickets at the airport.

Surprisingly, many seem shocked when they discover that certain airfares have limitations, despite the number of warnings and pop-ups that appear when booking online. Don’t let extra airfare costs sneak up on you and blow your budget! Rather, purchase the ticket that is right for you and your trip.

Travel Insurance or Canceled/Delayed Flights

Safeguard your travel plans with travel insurance. It’s well worth the added cost for a little peace of mind! Fortunately, some credit cards offer travel insurance as a benefit to cardholders when they use their card for travel arrangements. Sometimes, though, it’s beneficial to purchase additional insurance, depending on what it covers. In the event that you face a trip disruption, you’ll likely be relieved that you sprang for extra coverage!

Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep in mind the possibility of extra costs due to canceled or delayed flights. Brian and I experienced the joy of last-minute expenses when our flight to Alaska was canceled during a layover. Travel insurance did not cover the “weather-related” cancellation. Sure, we were able to request a refund from United Airlines, but we were also on the hook for securing last-minute flights to our final destination. It was a really fun time.


Don’t forget to build gratuities into your budget! In instances where gratuities are customary, mandatory service charges and discretionary tipping can quickly add up. It’s also worthwhile to set aside extra cash if you’d like to tip for an exceptional experience or show appreciation for outstanding service.

Resort and hotel fees

When booking accommodations, it’s important to check for additional resort or hotel fees that may be charged in addition to the room rate. These fees can vary based on location and amenities offered, but they typically cover access to Wi-Fi, a fitness center, pool facilities, and parking. Overlooking these fees could result in added expenses that can significantly impact your overall travel budget.

Overlooked Travel Expenses: Resort and hotel fees

Tourist pricing and/or tourism taxes

Brian and I have encountered varying price structures across the nation and in different countries. Certain businesses and attractions provide a lower rate for locals but charge tourists a higher price.

Foreign transaction fees and ATM fees

A foreign transaction fee is a surcharge paid by credit cardholders on international purchases, usually ranging anywhere from 1-3% of the total price. Be sure to carry a credit card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees. Perfect for on-the-go convenience, this credit card allows you to make purchases in other countries without the added fees.

ATM fees are another cost travelers often overlook. There’s a price to pay when using an ATM that is not affiliated with your bank unless you opt for a card that offers no foreign transaction fees and unlimited ATM fee reimbursements.

Spontaneous Fun

Leave some room in your budget for an unexpected adventure. Sometimes, spontaneous fun will present itself in the most casual ways. It could appear in the form of a once-in-a-lifetime experience or a random day-long hangout with a couple of Aussie strangers.

Budgeting for little moments of spontaneous fun minimizes spending guilt and strikes an easy balance between mindful planning and living in the present. Even if you don’t come across an opportunity to dip into your “spontaneous fun” budget, it’ll be there for next time!

Local Flavor

If you’re someone who loves to try local cuisine while traveling, don’t forget to set aside extra cash for indulging in all kinds of dishes. The cost of sampling bites at various restaurants and street food stalls can quickly add up, resulting in a hefty bill at the end of the trip.

Ask for Clarification

Even for travelers on a budget, planning a trip should be a fun and exciting experience. It shouldn’t feel like a joyless, penny-pinching chore. Reflecting on often-overlooked travel expenses reminds me of the importance of budgeting for a stress-free trip. Personally, when I prioritize my spending, I am much more present and excited for the adventures to come.

Usually, taking the time to read the fine print and consider potential activities will help form a comprehensive budget. If you ever have any questions or feel concerned about the possibility of extra costs, I recommend asking vendors and operators for clarification. After all, you can only prepare for so much! While many businesses will provide transparent responses, there are some that will try to swindle you. It’s the reality of business, especially in unfamiliar places.

So if you would like to try to prepare yourself and your budget for future getaways, keep in mind the following:

  • What activities, services, and accommodations are non-negotiable?
  • Consider adding an extra cushion of funds for unanticipated fees, fines, or situations.
  • Review the handy list of overlooked travel expenses above.
  • When in doubt, ask for clarification.

As a budget-minded traveler, I hope that you’re successful in creating an effective budget for both your trip and your fun. Have a great time, wherever your travels take you!

Share the Post:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Receive the Latest Updates

Keep up with our latest adventure!

Subscribe to receive notifications when we publish new content. Don’t miss out on exclusive freebies, guides, and our favorite budget-friendly tips.