Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hidden Costs When Travelling

Being the diligent cost-monitor, I’ve compiled a list where my travel contingency fund goes to. The travel package could be all inclusive but there are just some expenses that one could easily overlook.

Terminal Fee
Is the Philippines the only country who charges such? This Php 200.00 is levied on Filipino passenger going to domestic destinations.

This cannot be avoided nor minimized. Just put it in your budget.

Travel Tax
For adult passengers, the travel tax is PHP1,620 for economy flights. As provided for by Presidential Decree (PD) 1183, as amended, Travel Tax is a levy imposed by the Philippine government certain individuals who are leaving the country irrespective of the place where the air ticket is issued and the form or place of payment.

This cannot be avoided nor minimized. Something to consider when you book online that international destination. Just put it in your budget.

Fare going to the airport
It is quite pricey when you take a cab going to the airport. If you come from somewhere in the North (QC, Caloocan, Valenzuela), that long cab ride to NAIA will cost around Php 500.00-600.00 (*screams*). Most taxis charge a flat rate for this. The cost of your transportation getting at the airport is probably higher that the ticket you booked.

Of course there are alternative options like taking public transportation. But it can be quite a headache if you are bringing a luggage bag. Just imagine the headache at the inspection when your luggage bag is inspected upon entering the MRT. I recall some guy opened up his luggage bag and each plastic bag inside to be inspected. Everyone saw his socks and instant noodles.

You can carpool with your friends in your neighborhood or split the cabfare.

Fare from the bus terminal/airport
Same thing. But even if you conquered commuting to the airport/bus terminal, it may not be the same when you go home. Often, I feel so tired after the bus/plane ride and I just want to go home. Moreover, you may be bringing home more stuff because you bought so much pasalubong for everyone.

Have someone pick you up or share the cab fare with your travelmates.

Airport Food
Your flight is 5:00 am and you are rushing to the airport. You finally checked in and you are waiting for boarding time. You get hungry. You stroll around to check some food and you wonder if those prices are really in Philippine Pesos. Airport food is pricey. It is bad to wait at the airport on an empty stomach.

Pack a sandwich in your carry-on bag. Or before proceeding to the airport, stop at a fastfood/convenience store to buy a burger. You can carry a small drinking water bottle inside the waiting.

Cold Drinks
Whether you are beachbumming or hiking, nothing beats cold water as the ultimate thirst quencher. But of course, you are in a far-flung place where everything is priced at a premium. Php 50 for a cold Gatorate bottle.

Quench your thirst by thinking frugal thoughts. Or just consider it in your budget.

Extra Extra
You availed of a packaged tour which comes with meals. However, you are famished and you just have to order that extra cup of rice. You still feel sleepy and you need that extra cup of coffee. Although packaged tours come with food, it will still be up to your appetite if you will spend on that extra cup of rice/ extra drink. I usually give in because of that “minsan lang naman eh ako dito eh” mentality.

Budget it. Or share that cost and calories with a friend.

CR-usage fees
The bus stops after a few hours for a break and you need to take a pee. The restroom fees can be Php 2.00 to Php 5.00 that comes with a complimentary tissue (or not). Some restrooms do not charge anything but it has a donation box. The amount does not indicate the quality of the restroom though. Most of the stopover restroom are not err...pretty nor hygienic per se but being a girl, you have no choice (lest you wanna be in the woods). This is something you just have to accept when you travel.

Put some loose change in your pocket during your trip.

It is the third night of your 4D3N adventure, your muscles starts to feel the strain and pressure from all that walking and touring. A massage treat would really help. You start to ask your resort/hotel/inn if they have an in-house masseuse.

I am not a fan of massages. But I did enjoy that Php 500 massage after our trek to Mount Pinatubo. I also craved for a massage in Sagada but I was too tired and sleepy to really think about it.

If this is your weakness, budget it. Do a research on the going-rate of massages in your destination.

Those In-the-Moment-Snacks
Your carry-on bag is filled with snacks like a kid going on a fieldtrip. But those fried peanuts in the bus station smells so tempting. Your bus stops over in the middle of the night and a bowl of goto or lugaw will warm you up.

Open your bag of chips and ignore the taunt of those in-the-moment snacks in your senses. If it fails, give in. You will spend more and gobble up more calories.

This is something crucial but frequently not considered during budgeting. I believe that tipping your guide is a must. The amount is up to you but it should be done. I can be pretty stingy at times giving tips especially when I feel that it is so expected yet I felt no special/extra service was rendered.

Tips can also add up when you visit a lot of tourist sites which requires being guided by a local. For example, when we were in Bohol, we had to tip the guides in some of the major tour sites because they were just so enthusiastic and they were so patient in taking our pictures.

This is not limited to guides alone, but tips are also given those aggressive porters who insist in carrying your bag or that trike driver you helped you to load/unload your luggage.

Pool funds with your travel buddies and have someone be the treasurer of the fund. Consult with each other occasionally to determine if your tip fee to your guide is reasonable.

Porter fees
If your travel route includes riding a ferry, you may have experienced the stress some porters can give you. There are these porters who just pick up your luggage and say “follow me, this is the way”. They do it with such authority and as if they are so legit that the weary traveller does not have it him to question or protest. Then they “demand” for a fee for such assistance. There are those porters who are polite and there are those who are just so darn aggressive for a tip. It pisses me off.

Try to stay away from porters. Keep close to your backpack/luggage at all times and don’t let anyone pick them up. Coz once they do, you will be pressured to follow them to retrieve your stuff. To be safe, just include it in your travel contingency fund.

Souvenir Photos
They charge an arm and leg to take your precious photos during your visit in *insert name of destination*. They have these SLRs and a portable printer to easily print your picture. No softcopy. Just your smile and the background, or backdrop perhaps.

Forget the backdrop, forget the props. Your point and shoot is just fine. Just smile!

Things you left
You did some last minute packing and you left something behind. It can be your toothbrush-toothpaste, deodorant, comb, tissue or alcohol. It can be something trivial but it will make your vacation hell if you don’t have it. So head to the nearest convenience store to buy one.

Go over our stuff to make sure you packed everything you need.

I realized that I tend to overspend and splurge here. The "minsan lang naman eh" mentality. More so if the place is a city with an ATM or when they accept credit cards.

Research what can be bought in your destination. Budget your pasalubong. Better yet, overbudget this.

This is not a conclusive list but I hope it guides you in planning or avoiding those hidden costs. Happy budgeting!


  1. This is very helpful. Thanks!

  2. This is a very good post! I realize these things during my trips, but I rarely remember all of them BEFORE trips. Haha! I will now include them in my travel Excel template. Thanks, Lori!

  3. so true! you are an accountant indeed! very detailed cost anylysis ;)

  4. Think frugal thoughts. That doesn't work for me. Haha

    Speaking of expensive food, the food at Ho Chi Minh International Airport is ridiculously expensive. 8 USD for a bowl of pho?! 3 USD for a coke?! Ugh.

  5. @Benj: Frugal thoughts only work up to some extend - not foolproof though. Nyehehehe.

    We didn't get to try the food at HCMC. But $3 is more than enough to buy a decent meal in the city proper. Too pricey!


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