Say Bon Voyage to Hidden Travel Fees
I have always said there are two kinds of luggage: carry-on and lost. And with airlines now charging as much as $20 to check the first bag, why would I pay the airlines to lose my luggage? They used to do it for free!
I haven't checked luggage on domestic flights in nearly nine years, and that was long before the airlines began nickel-and-diming. My reasoning? It's not about how much the shipping costs, it's how much your time is worth! I save two and a half hours every time I fly because I don't have to wait in line to check my luggage, don't have to stand around the baggage carousel and don't have to schlep my bags to and from the airport.
Instead, use FedEx three-day service, or UPS, or even FedEx ground. It's not that expensive, and you get door-to-door service.
Another tip: If you need help packing all your belongings into one small carry-on, check out the Web site OneBag.com. And remember to look at each airline's rules for carry-on baggage sizes so you don't get stopped at the gate.
If there's one thing I can't stand, it's paying a significant amount of money to sleep in a hotel room, and then being hit with a "mandatory bellman fee," a "hospitality fee," a "resort fee" or any number of nickel-and-diming charges. It's bad enough being charged $10 for a bottle of water, but what the hotels are doing here is trying to stay competitive on rates and then sneaking in additional costs and calling it mandatory.
My advice: If a hotel tries to bill you for any undisclosed charge, you have the right to dispute that charge. If the charges aren't removed from your bill and/or reversed from your credit card bill, dispute that charge with your credit card company.
Foreign Transaction Fees
This one can really nail travelers. You use your credit card while traveling abroad, and a month later you're hit with nasty foreign transaction fees for every purchase you made. If you use a debit or credit card, Visa and MasterCard will likely charge you a 1 percent foreign transaction fee, and your issuing bank will add another percent to that.
And don't bother changing your money at the airport—or any exchange counter for that matter—or you'll get nailed by fees and commissions.
My advice? Stick to travel-friendly banks. Capital One doesn't charge a foreign transaction fee; American Express doesn't charge at all if you use your debit card; and some banks have no-fee ATM withdrawal agreements with their foreign counterparts, such as Bank of America and Barclay's in the UK, Scotia Bank in Canada and Deutsche Bank in Germany.