Hidden Travel Fees And How to Navigate Them


There you are proud as a college graduate: plane tickets in hand, backpack on your back, and you have tactfully budgeted out enough of your savings for a 3 month trip abroad.Or, have you? Hidden travel fees abound while exploring the world.

Here is a comprehensive look at some of the hidden travel fees and surprise travel expenses any Go! Girl might encounter on the road — and how to navigate them.

Hidden Travel Fee #1: ATM Fees Combined with Foreign Transaction Fees

While on the road you will invariably get charged by the ATM for using it. Be aware also what your bank’s withdrawal rate is for each ATM swipe. For example, Capital One charges $2.00 every time you use any foreign ATM and the machine’s fee varies from place to place. Wells Fargo typically charges $5 per withdrawl, plus conversion fees. Want to skip all of that nonsense and just use plastic for your steak and Malbec wine? Check with your bank beforehand to know whether or not they charge you a foreign transaction each time you use your credit card abroad. Many credit unions do not.

GGG Recommends: Charles Schwab High Yield Checking account. I wish I had taken the time to open this FREE account before on the road. They reimburse all of your ATM fees, and the checking account earns a bit of interest while your hard earned travel nest egg is warming up.

Hidden Travel Fee #2: Period Essentials

Every 28 days it seems, my expenses fluctuate..imagine that! Ladies, it would be ill-advised to recommend you carry enough pads, tampons, and Motrin to bring you through your cycle 6 or 7 times….do not do it! However, due to economies of scale, and the supply of resources in developing places, at times you might find your period becomes rather expensive. (Especially if you are like me and also require a dose of chocolate and ice cream 3 days before the main event).

GGG Recommends: The Diva Cup. It might be something to look into before you set off on your travels in place of any form of disposable period supplies. The second option, which I abide by, is just thinking logically about pricing. Which is a more expensive place to buy something, Times Square in NYC or upstate NY in a small corner drugstore? If the country you are heading to is generally more expensive than where you are, but you need some provisions, hit up your cheaper/current location.

Hidden Travel Fees #3: Rental Equipment

Horseback riding, surfing, ice climbing, oh my!

Does your 45-litre bag contain a saddle, rash guard, surfboard, or ice picks? Didn’t think so. Alas, you may have budgeted out for these amazing excursions, but we commonly forget to factor in the rental equipment which is necessary to participate in such kick-ass fun.

I had my first look at this last week. I booked a $150 excursion to do ice climbing in Patagonia. I knew it would cost around that amount so I felt pretty on point. It wasn’t until the hotel concierge pointed to the dark clouds wafting over the mountains and asked, “What are you going to wear when it snows today on the glacier?” that I realized this might cost a little more.

Boots, pants, new winter hat, crampons, and $50 later I had an amazing time…but it would have been better had I not been caught off guard from hidden rental expenses.

GGG Recommends
: Do as much research as possible beforehand. It would be impossible to lug everything around in your bag, especially if your travel route is unclear before you leave. A great way to research is check out images of people doing the activities you want to do and observe what bells and whistle are important to have.

Hidden Travel Fee #4: Gifts/Postcards

“Don’t worry I will send you a postcard from every city I visit!” You say to your family and friends as you frolic off on the horizon.

In my experience, picking out, transporting safely, and then successfully sending gifts right down to postcards can really place tiny bullet holes in your budget if you are not careful. That authentic Nicaraguan pottery would be great for mom right? Do you have any idea the next time you might encounter a DHL, let alone a post office?

GGG Recommends: Share your love and experiences in innovative and economical ways!

Video blog your friends, shout out your parents with tacky name carvings in the warm sands of Costa Rica, or collect small trinkets that are lightweight to bring home with you. I personally have a small totem bag which is filled with precious surprises for my loved ones. I hope seashells make it through customs!

Hidden Travel Fee #5: Hygiene Refills

When setting off on a journey with your fresh bar of soap, shampoo, razors, and conditioner, it is easy to only account for the startup cost of your travel hygiene.

However, as Go! Girls, you gotta keep it fresh andn clean always! Inevitably that soap will run out, you will be dying for some exfoliating scrub, and your 3oz bottle of conditioner will run dry.

Combine that with any special wash kit needs such as contact lenses solution or floss for braces and you will run up quite the tab at the local pharmacy.

GGG Recommends: Sharing is caring. If your other lady hostel mates are running low on conditioner, why not splurge for the bigger bottle and divide it up amongst yourselves?

Razors are expensive and so is sun lotion: just pack extra. Take advantage of every option you can; if you splash out for a hotel one night, make sure to take the bottle of shampoo and conditioner.

Lastly, scout out the “free” basket at each place you stay at. Many hostels will have a free bin full of random things. Check to see if there is any half empty bottle of something you could use to supplement your dwindling supplies.

Hidden Travel Fees #6: Sick Supplies

Ewwww, what the hell did they put in your taco?! The only thing worse than getting sick on the road is paying for what you need to recuperate. Cipro, motrin, cold medicine, you name it, you might have to purchase it at some point unexpectedly.

Thankfully, most prescription drugs in the USA are sold for a fraction of the cost overseas, however, you still have to fork over some cash to feel better.

GGG Recommends: Do as the locals do. When I was sick in Nicaragua with a stomach bug, I mentioned it to my Nicaraguan host mom in Spanish. Immediately she sprang to the kitchen and returned promptly with a plate of cut up bright orange papaya. She told me it would make my tummy calm. Worked like a charm…no tums….no pepto. Ps, a whole papaya costs next to .50 (USD). Happy recovery, for your stomach and your wallet.

What are some hidden travel fees and expenses you never planned to splurge on?


About Author

Traci is a bold New Yorker who loves taking her empire state of mind global. She holds a degree in International Business, and bleeds humanitarianism. Traci spent a semester in 2007 living in Italy and bouncing around Western Europe. In the past 3 years she volunteered at a homeless shelter in California, worked construction in New Orleans, and moonlights as a bartender everywhere she goes. She recently completed an epic 7 month backpacking trip through Central and South America and spent a month road-tripping the East Coast. Check out her personal blog at www.alwaysinjourney.com. Based out of: New Orleans, LA


  1. Oh, what a pain! Open that can of whoop-ass on ‘em good!I had my own bank freeze my card when I travadelled once — I bohgut a metroadcard at JFK airadport at the beginadning of my trip to NYC and they flagged it as a susadpiadcious use and shut me down. what a pain thata0was!gs last blog post..

  2. Pingback: How to Manage & Save Money While Traveling

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