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How to Budget for Hidden Travel Costs

Many people take vacations or short trips, and have just enough money available to fund the expenses. While this is a good technique to avoid overspending, it can also cause problems when you run into hidden travel costs that you hadn’t anticipated.

More often than not when you stay at a hotel now, during the check-in process you will be asked for a credit card. The hotel is keeping it on file in order to cover any incidentals you may encounter. Incidentals include:

phone calls made from room phone

drinks and snacks from the room mini-bar

internet usage

room service r

oom damages

This almost always results in a hold on funds available with your card. If you were hoping to use that card for all trip expenses, you could be in trouble should you be nearing your card limit. Here are some tips for avoiding the hidden costs on your next trip:

When making your hotel reservation, find out how much money they place a hold on during check-in. It probably won’t tell you this on the hotel website or when you call the 800 number to reserve- but feel free to ask customer service and they will tell you. Knowing how much they’re going to hold will let you know how much extra to bring with you on vacation. Instead of using a credit card when you check in, pay with cash. They will probably try to tell you they need a credit card, but cash is an acceptable form of payment everywhere. Ask to speak to a manager. You can pay for the incidental deposit using cash and be billed upon check-out for anything that doesn’t cover. Choose a pre-paid credit card.

There is really no way around the incidentals holding of funds, so one way to make sure it doesn’t distrupt your trip is to place just enough money on a pre-paid card to pay for that deposit and use other sources of payment for the rest of your trip. If it takes the hotel a long time to refund the money they held, you’re trip won’t be effected because you budgeted to cover these costs and have other methods of payment for the trip. Instead of staying in a hotel or resort, you could choose a campground, bed and breakfast, or hostel- these accommodations are not known for placing holds on funds for incidentals.

While there may not be away around the incidentals, if you know they’re there and you’ll likely have to pay for them upfront (and be reimbursed later) at least you can plan for them they will be less likely to ruin your trip!