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9 Sneaky Travel Costs You Might Forget to Budget For

When you’re planning out the cost of a trip, you probably budget for the big stuff: airfare, accommodations, car rental, tours, cruise fares. But while that back-of-the-envelope estimate will get you into the ballpark of what your trip will cost, there are plenty of other smaller travel expenses that could make a big impact on your budget. If you’re sick of coming home to unexpectedly high credit card bills after every vacation, check out this list of hidden travel expenses to anticipate and budget for.

Souvenirs and Gifts

Some travelers pick up a couple of fridge magnets or other tchotchkes on every trip, while others splurge on expensive wines and local handicrafts to bring home for themselves, friends, and family members. Know your shopping style and budget accordingly.

Pet Care

Leaving your furry friends behind? Don’t forget to budget for their care. The average cost of boarding a dog ranges from $40 to $60 per day, while cats are a little cheaper at $20 to $30 on average. On longer trips, these travel costs can be significant—so you’ll want to plan for them.


Bottled water at the airport. A mid-morning coffee break at a museum. A couple of beers at the pub. These beverages might only cost a few dollars here and there, but it all adds up, especially if you’re traveling with a companion who’s also running up a tab. Consider adding a small daily cushion into your budget for these types of incidental drink purchases (and throw in a few extra bucks for snacks as well).

Transportation Around Your Destination

Most of us budget for major transportation costs such as a rental car or lengthy train trips, but where we often fall short is in smaller expenses such as gas, public transportation, rideshares, or taxis. And have you accounted for how you’re going to get to and from the airport? Build these travel costs into your budget, too.

Airline Fees

Not much comes free with your airline ticket these days—some carriers are even charging for carry-ons. Consult SmarterTravel’s ultimate guide to airline fees to get an idea of which extras you might end up paying for, from snacks and meals to seat selection.


The scope of this expense depends on where you’re traveling, the local tipping culture, and the type of trip you’re taking. For example, it’s customary to tip both your guide and your bus driver on multi-day group tours in many parts of the world, and most cruise lines charge a per-day gratuity that is split among the staff. You may also want to leave a few dollars a day for your hotel housekeeper or give something to the bellhop who carries your bags.

See The Ultimate Guide to Tipping for Travelers to learn more about how much you should budget.

Hotel Extras

Aside from tips to various members of the staff, you may also need to shell out for other hidden travel expenses at hotels. Wi-Fi, parking, minibar purchases, laundry, and resort fees are just a few of the unexpected things you might find yourself paying for during your stay. To see more possibilities, read about the most common hidden hotel fees.

ATM and Currency Conversion Fees

When traveling abroad, you can expect to pay a few fees here and there to get access to the local currency, either when withdrawing cash from an ATM or using your credit card to pay a larger bill. Even if your own bank doesn’t charge a flat fee or a percentage for foreign ATM withdrawals (and many do), the local bank that operates the machine often will.

Fortunately, currency conversion fees for credit card purchases are usually easier to avoid. See Airfarewatchdog, SmarterTravel’s sister site, for a list of credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.

The Unexpected

Into this category falls everything else—like the time I caught a cold in Australia and had to buy medicine, and the time I didn’t pack warm enough clothes and had to buy a thick, cozy sweatshirt in Canada. You can draw up the world’s most detailed budget, but there will inevitably be a few items that crop up without warning.

I like to budget an extra $25 a day for “miscellaneous” expenses on every trip. While I rarely end up spending that much, it gives me some wiggle room—and some peace of mind.

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