Travel fees will kill any travel budget. Baggage fees, flight change fees, and rental car alternate location drop-off fees, hotel reservation cancellation fees, etc... All these fees add up quickly and make travel more expensive than it should be.
But sometimes your travel plans change and these fees just cannot be avoided. And what was supposed to be an enjoyable trip soon becomes a very expensive one. So what can you do so that travel fees don't take up a huge chunk of your travel budget?
Start by making phone calls to the airline, hotel, and/or car rental company so that you can speak with someone directly about your unnecessary fees.
I recently saved myself $675 in travel fees with two phone calls that lasted no more than 30 minutes in total. Here's how I did it:
Phone Call #1 With Airline Company
Situation: I needed to cancel the return flight for our family's trip to Hawaii. The cancellation fee was $200 per ticket. For all four of us, that would be a cancellation fee of $800 to get the travel credit, which was approximately $1000. So, it would cost us $800 to get $1000 of travel credit (which makes absolutely no sense!).
Phone Call #2 With Car Rental Company
Situation: I needed to drop-off my rental car at the airport, instead of the neighborhood location where I picked the car up, because the neighborhood rental office didn't open until two hours before my flight was scheduled to depart. Thus, I didn't want to cut it too close to drop the car off, then take a taxi to the airport (roughly $30), and check-in. It would be a lot easier for me to drop the car off directly at the airport. The alternate location drop-off fee was $100.
Here's the process I went through with both companies to get a total savings of $675:
- I called their customer service lines and explained my situations. They both proceeded to tell me it was their company policy to charge their respective fees, which would have been a total of $900 for me.
Negotiation lessons learned:
- You'll never get something until you ask for it. Most companies have policies for people who want fees decreased. They don't advertise it, of course. The only way you can benefit from their flexibility is by asking for it.
Don't let excessive travel fees eat into your precious budget. Use the negotiation tactics outlined in my examples with the airline and car rental companies and you'll be able to create significant savings. And with more savings and less fees, you can use your money where it should be spent while traveling -- for memorable experiences and delicious food wherever you are.
This post originally appeared on LiveFamilyTravel.com. Images courtesy of author.
Cliff Hsia is a father who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. He writes about travel, family, love, happiness, faith, and everything else that life throws at him.