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Common Money Traps when Traveling

Common Money Traps when Traveling

So you’ve got your flight tickets booked, hotel room reserved, your rental car (if needed), and money to spend. That should be all you need, right? There are many common money traps when traveling that can make or break your vacation budget! Make sure you are aware of these hidden costs so you aren’t blindsided. 

Depending on where you are traveling, some of these costs may not apply to you- which is good! However, it is good to be mindful that these charges exist, just in case they come up in the future. 

If you want to learn more about saving money while traveling, check out these budget travel tips to save you hundreds

No one ever said no to saving money. Even if it is just a few dollars here and there, these expenses quickly add up! Traveling consciously of your expenses will help you in the long run, especially if you run into an emergency- you get sick, break your arm, get a flat tire, who knows! Better to be safe than sorry!

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

hidden costs of traveling

Hotel Parking

One common money traps when traveling is hotel parking. While many hotels offer free parking, this cost mostly applies to hotels in major cities. 

Costs can range from $20-30 a day, or even higher depending on your location. If you are staying for a week, this could add up to $140 or more that you weren’t planning for! 

When researching what hotels to stay at before your trip, make sure to check parking costs. They are often hidden and difficult to find because hotels don’t want to deter you from booking with them. However, a hotel that is more expensive per night with free parking, might actually be cheaper than a budget hotel with paid parking. 

If you do end up needing to pay to park, check around the area to see if there are any parking garages nearby. These are usually cheaper, even if you need to walk a bit. Compare the costs, and see what your cheapest option is. 

You might even be able to find street parking if near a residential area, so do some research before agreeing to pay those hefty prices. 

Here are some other hotel hacks that will improve your stay!

Hotel Fees

Hotels might also get more of your money through hotel fees. Hotels often charge “resort fees” which is a mandatory cost in order to get your room key. This is to cover the use of the pool, grounds, and other amenities. 

These hidden fees can range anywhere from a few dollars to $30+ a day! Plus, most travelers don’t know hotels have this hidden charge, as it is not included in the price at the of booking.

Resort fees have recently been addressed at the federal level, and top hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton have lawsuits against them for these fees. 

While there is not much you can do if this happens to you, there are steps you can take prior to booking your hotel. ResortFeeChecker is a great tool you can use to check if your hotel has hidden fees, before booking. This way, you won’t be caught off guard by any extra charges. 

Additionally, most hotels put a temporary charge on your card at the time of check-in- usually $25-50, in case of any accidental damages. You will get this money back as long as nothing is wrong with the room, however, make sure your bank account takes into consideration there will be $50 less for the duration of your trip. 

Here are some tips on how to book the cheapest hotel possible!

Pet Fees

Another common money traps when traveling is pet fees at hotels. If you are traveling with your furry friend, we know it can be difficult! Not only do you need to find a hotel that is affordable for you and in the right location, but also one that accepts pets. Make your travels easier with this pet travel bag

Pet fees range widely by the hotel. Some hotels charge daily, and some, like the Marriott, add a $100 charge to your stay. This is a hefty price just for your little pup! 

This is understandable if they are a puppy and still have accidents, or are teething and chewing the furniture. However, I think it is a bit much! But, you have to do what you have to do. 

Unfortunately, there really is no way out of this one. Check the pet fees before booking your hotel, and see what best deals you can find!

You know what your dog shouldn’t do in a hotel room, but do you know what you shouldn’t do? Learn more of the top 10 major don’ts in a hotel room!

Bottled Water

On vacation (especially if somewhere warm and sunny) you will be drinking a lot of water- or at least you should be! From walking around sightseeing in the sun all day, to the mass amounts of alcohol I’m sure you will be drinking, your body will NEED water!

Buying water bottles every day is among one of the most common money traps when traveling.

If you were to buy a water bottle from a store every time you were thirsty, you would end up spending SO much money, just on water! Seems silly to buy something that is free! 

Side note: disregard this post if the water in your destination is unsafe to drink- obviously buy the bottled water and don’t get diseases from the tap water!

For everyone else- invest in a good reusable and collapsible water bottle! This water bottle seems to make an appearance on most posts I write- because hydration is important! Dehydrated travelers are no fun! 

In many locations and big cities like Rome and Greece, you will find water fountains throughout the area. Take advantage of these whenever you see them! Also, fill up your water bottle with the free tap water you get when at a restaurant. 

Read more about how to stay healthy when traveling!

Bathroom Fees

Believe it or not, many destinations make you pay for public toilets! While fees are usually only a couple of dollars, this can add up if you are drinking a lot throughout the day!

One way to avoid this fee is to use the restrooms at restaurants. As long as you order something, you will be able to use the bathroom. While you will still technically be paying to use the bathroom, at least you can get a free drink or snack out of it! 

If you happen to find a public toilet that is free, make sure you remember where it is so you can go back to that one. Also, make sure to always go whenever you have the opportunity, to save some money in the future. 

Also, many chain stores and restaurants let you use the bathroom for free. For example, Barnes and Noble and Starbucks. But let’s face it, you’ll probably end up buying a cappuccino anyway!


Another common money traps when traveling involves transportation. I am almost certain you have thought of this one already, or at least you should have! When putting your itinerary together, you need to consider how you are going to get from place to place.

Maybe you drove to your destination, so you don’t need to worry. You might have a rental car or plan to use public transportation. All of these are great options. However, be mindful of where you are traveling, and what the best mode of transportation is.

For example, if you are traveling to a big city, chances are you don’t want to drive. Use the subway to busses to get around. However, if you are in a rural area, you might want to have your own car. Deciding how you will get around will save you from unexpected expenses. 

If you are able to, public transportation is always the cheapest. Most big cities have great subway systems, so take advantage of those with day passes. This way, you won’t have to worry about driving and getting lost, getting a flat tire, or getting into an accident. 

Additionally, make plans for how you will get to your hotel from the airport and vice versa. Always check to see if your hotel has a free shuttle!

Carry on bags

Most airlines allow you to take one carry on bag and one personal item, as long as they are within the size limits. This is my favorite carry on bag, which I think is the only carry on bag you will ever need! For the most part, you should be free from hidden fees related to your bags, unless you choose to check a bag.

However, some airlines don’t include the cost of carry on bags in their prices. This tricks travelers because they think they are getting a good deal on the flight, but don’t realize they will need to pay for their bags. 

These fees are not cheap, either! This was a common travel mistake that we made once, and we had to pay $60 per carry on bag, each way! This totaled $240 just for our bags! Luckily the employee only made us pay half! 

Make sure you check to see if carry on bags are included in your flight price. If not, compare to other flights to see if it is really a deal. 

Foreign transaction fees

If you are traveling internationally, you are going to want to pay attention to this one! When traveling to different countries, you will often be charged a foreign transaction fee if purchasing with your credit card. This is typically around 3% per transaction, which can really add up! 

In order to avoid foreign transaction fees, see if your bank has an international credit card. These will not charge you for making international charges! 

Additionally, watch out for ATM fees. These will also add charges per transaction, which can add up as well. However, when exchanging money, we have found the conversion rate to be best from ATM machines, even given the transaction fee. 

Credit holds on rental cars

Rental cars can be a cheap way to get around your destination, but watch out for the holds they put on your credit card.

The hold is a MASSIVE amount and can take a big chunk of your savings that you had planned to use on your vacation. You will get this money back as long as the car is okay, but it can put a damper on your bank account. 

Rental car holds are in the hundreds. We once had a $500 hold on our account. Some companies take the total cost and add 25%, so it will be a lot. Breath through- you will get it back! It just is not fun in the meantime.

Also, if you are traveling to different locations and are using more than one rental car, make sure you talk to the company ahead of time. We needed 2 rental cars in different cities within 24 hours, so we did not get our credit hold back from the first one. This left us with hardly any money to put the second hold down. Basically, we had $1000 of our vacation money on “hold”, which was very stressful. 

Unfortunately, there is no real way to get around this, other than using public transportation, which I have found to be better anyway- especially internationally. 

Sit down charge

The last common money traps when traveling on our list is unofficially known as a sit-down charge. This is commonly used in European countries and is basically like a cover charge.

Sit down charges are mostly used in restaurants near major attractions. For example, by the Rialto Bridge in Venice, or near the Colosseum. 

You will find this called a coperto in Italy, and you should be able to find it on the bottom or end of a menu. The charge isn’t much, usually only 1-2 Euro per person, but it can add up if you have a large party. 

On the contrary, restaurant staff expects fewer tips than in the US, so it will even out in the end. However, if you do not want to pay the cover charge, eat at restaurants away from major attractions, and be sure to check the menu before sitting down. 

Thank you for reading common money traps when traveling. We hope these tips will help you save money on your next vacation! Let us know if we forgot anything in the comment section below- we would love to hear from you!

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Sunday 8th of January 2023

Re: bottled water - if you're staying in a hotel that has a gym you can fill up your reusable water bottle there, they usually have filtered/bottled water there.

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