Unexpected travel fees can really put a damper on your trip or kill your travel budget completely.
With a little planning ahead, here’s how you can avoid these pesky travel fees:
1. Ditch the safe in your hotel room to save $3/day.
Simply having a hotel safe in your hotel room can cost you — whether you use it or not!
When checking in, ask about a safe fee. If the hotel does have a fee for it, ask that the safe be removed to save some dough.
2. Avoid paying $20/day for hotel wi-fi by asking if your hotel offers a free connection.
Here are a few hotels that offer free wi-fi:
- Courtyard by Marriott
- Best Western
- Days Inn & Suites
- Hilton Garden Inn
- Holiday Inn
- Candlewood Suites
- Drury Hotels
- Comfort Inn
- Staybridge Suites
- Sleep Inn
Already booked a stay that doesn’t include free internet? Try this instead:
- Join the hotel’s rewards program to get the wi-fi fee waived. Hilton Rewards Members get free wi-fi at Homewood Suites, Double Tree, or any other Hilton property.
- Check if the lobby, business center, gym, or bar offers free wi-fi.
- Use your cell phone at a wi-fi hotspot. (See how to do that here.)
3. Ditch the $10-$45/night parking fee by choosing a hotel with free parking.
Nothing kills that vacation vibe faster than finally driving up to your hotel, only to be hit by a huge parking fee. Here’s how to get around that:
- Use ParkMe.com to find cheaper parking nearby.
- Opt for a hotel in a suburb instead of right in the middle of the city you’re visiting. These locations often offer free or discounted parking.
- Search for a hotel on Expedia, and select “Free Parking” under “Amenities.”
- Sign up for a hotel’s rewards program. Mlife Rewards offers free parking for their members!
4. Fly Southwest to check luggage for free — instead of paying $25-$200 per bag.
Airlines like United are known to charge at least $25 per checked bag (and the price increases for the second bag!) Skip the fees next time by trying this:
- Opt for an airline that won’t charge for checked bags like Cape Air, Southwest, Ravn Alaska, and JetBlue (only with the Blue Plus and Blue Flex fares).
- Southwest gives you not one, but TWO free checked bags! (That’s just one of the 26 Southwest Airline Hacks That Will Save You Serious Cash.)
- Join an airline’s rewards program. Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, Delta, and United all offer free baggage for loyalty members.
- Score free checked bags if you have an airline credit card for American Airlines, Delta, and Hawaiian Airlines.
- Consider the price difference of flying a higher class. American Airlines allows complimentary bags when you fly premium economy, business, or first class. Virgin America doesn’t charge for baggage for Main Cabin Select and First Class seating.
- Condense luggage when you can. Check out our 8 Genius Hacks for Packing a Suitcase!
- Get free baggage for active military members on Alaska, American, Delta, and United.
5. Save $60 by always getting a free carry-on bag.
Frontier, Allegiant Air, and Spirit all charge for carry-on bags! There’s just no reason to pay that fee when so many other airlines allow free carry-on luggage.
But if you’re in a bind, try this:
- Consider downsizing your carry-on so it qualifies as a “personal item” (like a large purse or book bag.) Frontier doesn’t charge for a personal item as long as it fits under the seat in front of you.
- If you have to pay for the carry-on, opt to do so when you’re booking your ticket. At Frontier, a checked bag when booking online costs $35, but that same bag will cost you $60 at the gate.
6. Weigh your luggage at home to avoid up to $200 in overweight baggage fees.
Airlines typically have a baggage weight limit and most cap you at 50 lb. per bag. Anything over that can cost you up to $200!
Try this instead:
- Invest in a luggage scale. You can find one for less than $10 on Amazon.
- Load your heavier items in your carry-on or consider having them shipped instead.
7. Get free snacks and beverages in-flight to avoid paying for airport meals.
I’ll never forget paying $12 for a grilled cheese sandwich at the airport. These airlines offer free snacks and non-alcoholic beverages in flight:
- American Airlines (with Business and First Class)
- United (on select international flights)
Or just bring food in your carry-on to avoid overpriced (and kinda gross) airport food.
8. Avoid toll roads (if you can) to avoid $15 car rental toll service fees.
Highway tolls can add up, especially if you’re adding in a pesky toll convenience fee with your rental car.
Budget charges $2.95 per day (plus the actual cost of the toll). National, Alamo, and Enterprise charge $3.95 per day. Thrifty and Dollar charge $15 per toll!
9. Use your own car insurance to avoid paying up to $80/day for car rental insurance.
Here’s a breakdown of what insurance can cost you at Budget car rental:
- Loss Damage Waiver: $32.99 per day
- Personal Accident and Effects: $9.95 per day
- Supplemental Liability Insurance: $16.50 per day
- Extended Roadside Assistance: $7.99 per day
Instead of paying these inflated prices, try this:
- Call your insurance company to ask what your existing insurance plan covers when it comes to rentals. In most cases, if you carry comprehensive coverage and liability coverage, you won’t need to purchase additional rental insurance when you pick up the car.
- If you’re not covered, ask how much it would cost to increase your own insurance coverage during your trip. Many times, it’ll be cheaper to increase your own coverage during your trip, then scale it back when you return.
- Book with a credit card that provides rental insurance. Select credit cards, such as Discover, provide some coverage for car rentals.
10. Book your trip with a credit card that features travel insurance as a perk, instead of paying 5-10% of your total trip cost.
Travel insurance can cost anywhere from 5-10% of the price of your trip.
So when booking your trip, use a credit card that offers travel insurance to avoid having to pay for separate insurance.
They may cover lost baggage costs, trip cancellation or delay, or a travel accidents. But benefits change, so always double-check what’s covered by your card.
These cards come with some travel insurance perks:
- American Express
- Capital One Venture Rewards
- Chase InkPlus
- Chase Sapphire
- Citibank Advantage Signature
- Citi Prestige
- Citi ThankYou Premier
- United Explorer Cards
- Capital One Mastercard
RELATED: Top 5 Credit Cards to Earn You Free Travel
11. Get cash back without paying $5 out-of-network ATM fees for cash withdrawal.
Withdrawing money from an ATM outside your bank’s network can result in two charges: one from your bank, plus one from the ATM. Save money by trying this instead:
- Download the My Bank Tracker app to track your bank’s ATM locations near you. Check out more apps that will help avoid ATM fees.
- Use your bank’s app, or check their website for the closest in-network ATM.
- Withdraw the amount of cash you need prior to leaving for your trip.
- Stop by a Target, grocery store, or gas station that offers cash back, and make a small purchase like a pack of gum.
12. Ask to have those $30/day resort fees removed.
Resort fees can cost $30/day, and you might not realize the fee is there until you checkout.
Instead of ending your trip on a sour note, try this before checking in:
- Book your hotel stay with reward points. According to The Points Guy, hotels often waive resort fees when you book with points.
- Use Hotels.com to find alternative hotels that don’t charge resort fees.
- Call in advance to ask to have the fees removed.
13. Join your hotel’s reward program to score a free late checkout.
Like sleeping in? A late checkout fee can cost you as much as another night sometimes!
The fix? Join the hotel’s reward program.
Many hotels, such as Marriott properties, offer priority or guaranteed late checkout for reward members.