Miscellaneous Travel Expenses that Sneak Up on You
Nov 12, 2015
I recently got back from a trip to Orlando and when I returned, I added up how much I spent while traveling and immediately felt remorse for taking the trip.
In short, I was tasked by my in-laws to check up on a fully furnished house that is unoccupied and has been in the family for nearly 30 years. They needed my help, and I was happy to oblige, with the hope that I’d get a chance to sneak in some golf (the house sits in the middle of Bay Hill Golf Club, I would be remiss if I didn’t take the 24 hour trip).
The only way this trip was possible was due to the extraordinarily low round-trip airfare. $80 was all it cost. But when I got there, the miscellaneous charges racked up and by the end, I realized the trip (financially) just was not worth it.
Expenses you plan forWhen planning trips, you have to itemize expenses to make sure they align with their budget. Typical expenses include:
The amount per item obviously depends on the budget size. For instance, I played golf with a Canadian couple who was in Orlando for a week and were playing a different course every day. My round was $100 that day, so simple math tells me that they were budgeting roughly $1,400 just in greens fees. #jealous
- Rental car
- …travel insurance (if you’re a savvy traveler)
Expenses you might not plan forThen there are the expenses that sneak up on you, the ones that you don’t necessarily factor into your planning. The ones listed below may not pertain to you but I can’t be alone here…
Like I said, some of these may not pertain to you. But my trip included all of those items and truth be told, I didn’t factor in how much it would all cost at the end of my trip.
- Cab fare – $86 (read below for details)
- Snacks, beverages and meals at the airport – $38
- Airline fees – $15
- Rental clubs – $50
- Valet parking (at the golf course) – $5
- Alcoholic beverages – $25
- Airport parking – 3 days at $9/day = $27
To get to and from the house I was staying at, I had to use a taxi service. The house was 19 miles away from the airport. When I got in Monday night, I used the airport taxi and it cost $63 including tip. Had I not downloaded Uber, the cab fare expense would’ve cost more than the flights! Getting back to the airport on Wednesday using Uber only cost $23. So total, in cab fare only, I was out $86.
If you didn’t add everything up from the list above, the total is $246. My expectation versus reality was completely off. I knew cab fare would cost money, I knew I’d have to buy a couple meals and pay for my rental clubs, but I certainly did not expect the total cost to exceed $200.
Better planning = fewer surprises
My advice for planning your next trip is to think through all aspects of traveling and make sure not to leave anything out. Obviously there could be unexpected expenses but that’s why we take out a lot of cash before trips.
Shameless plug: one way to avoid surprises is to protect your trip with some form of travel insurance. If your trip cost is on the higher end, a trip protection plan would be a wise purchase; especially if you’re traveling within the United States. If you’re leery that your medical insurance might not cover you, consider a travel medical insurance plan to protect you in case of accidents that happen on your trip.
Last piece of advice
When I was paying for my taxi on Monday night, my debit card was declined. I only had $40 in cash on me and the cab fare was $63 including tip. I wasn’t carrying a credit card and the only other form of payment I had was my HSA debit card. I figured it would get declined, too, because I wasn’t paying for a healthcare related expense, but much to my surprise, it worked.
Yes. I’m that guy who paid for a taxi with an HSA debit card… What would you have done in my situation?
Point I’m getting at, call your bank and let them know you're traveling. I called Chase immediately after the declined transaction and the customer service rep said it was declined because a purchase was attempted in a state outside of Indiana. I appreciate the level of security to protect my checking account – I really do – but in retrospect, I should’ve called before to let them know my travel plans.
Important information from the United States Fire Insurance Company.