Friday, December 21, 2012

Trip Planning Mistake - Underbudgeting

You've probably heard the old adage about taking half the clothes and twice the money. While a bit extreme, it is not that far off the mark.

If you have a trip budget, don't max it out up front with your fixed, pre-booked expenses such as air, hotel, car rental, cruise or tour. As you travel you will find yourself faced with many other expenses, some of which you not have been able to plan for. For instance ...

U.S. domestic airlines now charge for meals and snacks. For a domestic flight, your checked bag will cost you a baggage fee. A second checked bag will cost even more.

Did you check to find out if the cost of your hotel room includes all taxes? If not, you may be in for a big surprise when you check out. Want to connect the Wi-Fi in your laptop? There may be a fee for that. If you are traveling internationally, may hotels and B&B's list room prices PER PERSON, not per night.

And then there are ATM fees, tips, local payments (on international travel), car rental fees, hotel service shares and any number of small (and sometimes big) fees.

Think your cruise fare pays for your entire trip? Better check again. Most cruise lines now add tips to staff directly to a passengers account. Yes, you can change the amount and even stop it. But you need to know about it to take action. Want a beverage other than water, tea or coffee? There is a charge for that. Want to take a shore excursion? There is a charge for that too.

Plan for the unexpected. The unplanned taxi ride or the extra battery for your camera that you lost. Depending on the number of people in your party, plan an extra $25 to $50 per day for unplanned expenses. It will be nice if you come home with the extra money but if you do run into extra costs, at least you will have planned for it and have the money for it.

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