Getting Smart about Hidden Travel Fees

So you got a great rate on an airfare or hotel. Watch out, there may be hidden fees lurking in the shadows. From baggage fees and extra leg room to late check-out fees and expensive water, ancillary fees from airlines and hotels are an ever-present threat to the frugal traveler.

Here’s how to combat hidden charges and get the most for your travel dollars, courtesy of CNN.com.

Be aware of ancillary airline fees

By one estimate, airlines across the globe brought in almost $60 billion in 2015 from extra fees alone. Charging extra fees began with low-cost carriers, and it’s often why they can charge lower ticket fares.

Full-service airlines have followed suit in this push to charge passengers more whenever possible, including devising more categories of seats, allowing for more a la carte fees.

“What we’re seeing is about five different strata of cabins from first-class downwards,” says George Hobica, president of airfarewatchdog.com, in a CNN.com story. “If you buy one of the super-cheap fares, you’re going to be in the last row by the bathroom.”

“I think one of the worst ones is the change fees,” Hobica adds. “It used to cost nothing to change a ticket or a schedule. Now it’s $200. It doesn’t cost the airline $200 to change the ticket. You actually do it yourself.”

Getting less from loyalty programs

Frequent travelers have long relied on airline and hotel loyalty programs for perks such as free upgrades and checked bags.

But elite status doesn’t buy what it used to. “It used to be that the number one reason to be loyal to a particular airline was the free upgrade.” With airlines selling more of these seats — and some airlines routinely overselling — “it’s almost impossible now to get an upgrade,” Hobica says.

Hotels are doing it, too. Their ancillary fees can include everything from charging for bottled water, to high connection fees for Wi-Fi and the hotel room phone.

Also beware of the “resort fee” — an additional mandatory charge that supposedly covers the upkeep of hotel facilities and can be as much as $30.

Tips on beating charges

To not fall prey to ancillary charges, travelers have to be ever vigilant, especially when booking the flight or hotel.

Don’t assume it’s free. Never make assumptions that something is complimentary — read the fine print of each airline or hotel before you travel, and be careful and proofread what boxes you check when booking online.

Pack carry-on only. An increasingly popular travel option is to pack carry-on only, if possible. Not only will you save on baggage fees, you’ll exit your destination airport a lot faster.

Don’t be afraid to haggle. According to many travel experts, consumers can haggle almost anything, especially in person at a hotel. Depending on how much effort you’re willing to expend, you could get a fee dropped or even an upgrade.

Use helpful travel apps.  We live in a digital, mobile world, and it often pays to download helpful travel apps to book online, find free Wi-Fi hotspots nearby, and sometimes be eligible for special online- or app-only discounts.

Possible fees to come

Airline expert Hobica thinks parents might eventually have to pay for a seat for very young children, even if they spend the trip in an adult’s lap. He also predicts more airlines following the lead of low-cost carriers Ryanair and easyjet by charging for the use of a credit card, as airlines have to pay 2 percent to 4 percent to the credit card company when consumers use a credit card.

Hotels may also start charging for the option to select the room of your choice. Some people prefer to have a room near a fire exit or ice machine, for example.

And now that many hotel chains have apps that allow you to check in and out electronically, without seeing a human, this will likely soon become the default offering. Travel experts predict we’re going to start paying more for human contact and help.

Source: CNN

Best Summer Travel Apps

By 2019, worldwide digital travel sales will top $762 billion, according to eMarketer. With so much travel planning done electronically, here’s a list of the best free travel apps for this summer and beyond.

Bravolol Phrasebook

Traveling somewhere and don’t know the language? Sci-Fi is now reality with the Bravolol Phrasebook. This app contains over 800 commonly-used phrases in 13 languages, including English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Turkish, Portuguese, Arabic and Vietnamese.

The parrot works together with you to practice your speaking and listening skills. You can also ask the parrot to speak on your behalf by playing the authentic pronunciation of the phrase. Storing and searching phrases and other features make it easier to travel and communicate with international friends, or in any situation.

Free for iOS and Android

BringFido

Travel with your pet? The BringFido app lets users know whether a hotel allows pets, particularly dogs, to stay. Search filters also help users see which hotels charge an additional pet fee. It’s also great resource for finding pet-friendly parks, trails, beaches, and even restaurants.

Free for iOS

Clarice

This handy travel app provides travelers with curated tips on the best shopping places, eateries, sightseeing tours and more. Even the shopping suggestions are categorized based on what kind of trip you are on, such as family, romance, business or pleasure.

Clarice also gives you mapped routes, self-guided tours and even themed ones. Note: the app is only available in Europe and 12 cities in the U.S.

Free for iOS and Android

GasBuddy

If you’re heading out on the highway this summer, GasBuddy is a must-have on your smartphone. With a community of more than 56 million users, GasBuddy users share locations of the cheapest price available at gas stations in your area. Find the cheapest gas by keying in the postal/zip code or city. You can also try to win $100 in gas every day.

Free for iOS and Android

Hopper

Named the best travel app of 2015 by Apple, Hopper spots trends in airfare prices and predicts the best time for you to buy at the lowest fares. Once you plug in your departure and destination info., Hopper pulls up a color-coded, multi-month calendar that presents the best time to fly at the cheapest cost. It also tells you when to expect prices to rise or fall, and sends alerts when the price drops.

Free for iOS and Android

LiveTrekker

Love to explore a city by foot or bike? Create a diary with LiveTrekker. Create audio and text notes and post photos and videos to log your route. See places you want to revisit? Just snap a pic, and the GPS-enabled app will help you return to it later. Share your route or download other users’ treks and learn travel tips from their explorations.

Free for iOS and Android

Sources: Techtimes.com: “Best Summer Travel Apps”
Fortune.com: “5 Great Travel Apps to Help Plan Your Summer Vacation”

The Best Free Travel Apps in 2016

Whether you travel occasionally or live out of a suitcase, the right travel app can make your life a lot easier. But with all that’s available, which ones will you really use? Here’s a list of some of the best free travel apps, courtesy of  theguardian.com.

App in the Air
App in the Air is a smart, straightforward, flight tracking app that has the best coverage of airlines and airports. It will keep you updated about flight status—even if you don’t have internet coverage—and helps you manage your time at the airport, breaking down each flight into four stages: check in, boarding, takeoff and landing time. It also integrates with Tripit allowing you to import all your flights.
Free, iOS and Android, appintheair.mobi

Citymapper
Comprehensive, easy to use and also playful, Citymapper offers more detailed journey planner information than Google, including real-time departures and disruption alerts, as well as Uber integration and cycle routes. It is available in around 30 cities worldwide, with all the obvious city-break destinations covered.
Free, iOS and Android, citymapper.com

Duolingo
Over 70 million people have registered with Duolingo, a free and incredibly well-designed language learning app. Although not a replacement for proper language instruction, the app is a fun way to get the basics, or to keep your grammar and vocabulary fresh before a trip abroad. 
Free, iOS and Android, duolingo.com

Google Translate
This translator can be a useful tool to support your own, more serious language learning, but realistically, it’s most useful on a practical level quickly translating day-to-day words you come across on your travels. For example, you can hold your camera up to text, such as a sign, or a menu, and Google will translate it for you instantly.
Free, iOS and Android, https://play.google.com

LiveTrekker
LiveTrekker creates a digital journal of your travels so you can look back on your trips on an interactive map. The app tracks you as you go, marking a red line along a map on the exact route you take. The app also monitors your speed and altitude, making it great for adventure travelers, though it’s just as fun to look back at your route around a city. You can add pictures, video, audio and text along the way, creating a multimedia travel diary you can share.
Free, iOS and Android, livetrekker.com

Time Out
The Time Out app is a great directory of ideas of things to do in cities around the world. With coverage from Accra to Amsterdam, Edinburgh to Singapore, the app covers everything from bars, restaurants, attractions and events. The event finder is a particularly useful tool, meaning you’ll never struggle to find the most popular concerts, festivals or one-off happenings going on around you. You can also book restaurants and concert tickets through the app and create a customized travel guide for your holiday.
Free, iOS  and Android

Tripit
A bit like a pocket travel agent, Tripit pulls together travel information from your confirmation emails for flights, hotels, rental cars, and events bookings and converts it into a single itinerary. Just forward your emails to the app and it will do the rest. If you’re traveling with others you can easily share the plans, making this a useful app for coordinating a group trip.
Free, iOS and Android, tripit.com

XE Currency
XE is the go-to site for currency conversions on the web, so it’s no surprise that its app is so popular. With over 20 million downloads since launch, it has lots of business-oriented features, such as rates for precious metals and historic currency charts, but for the traveler it is most useful for the simple fact that it’s able to convert every world currency. It also functions offline by saving the last updated rates, which is great if you’re in a place with limited connectivity or are trying to save on data.
Free, iOS and Android, xe.com

Android users, download Hoyt’s new free mobile app!

Android users, reserving your Hoyt car just got easier with Hoyt Livery’s free mobile app for Android!

Quickly book a new trip, check on your reservation, keep track of your frequent destinations and update your information, all from your phone or tablet.

Free at the Google Play Store. Download here.

For Apple users, click here.

If you have any questions about our apps, feel free to contact us.

Source: 10 of the best travel apps … that you’ll actually use