Don't get gouged on toll roads
When traveling solo, sometimes you rock taxis and ride shares. But when traveling with your whole brood and roughly 400lbs of Christmas presents, rental cars become a necessity. In some parts of the country, that means taking toll roads. Toll transponders get you through plazas faster and don't require a trip to the ATM. But car rental companies know most tourists don't have a transponder for the local toll system, and have the chutzpah to charge upwards of $15 to use the ones attached to the car. That's before actual tolls.
The good news is you can buy most transponders ahead of your trip, and you can activate them online once you get the rental car plate number. In some cases, they come pre-loaded with enough credits to offset the cost of the transponder, and you can always bring it home and save it for your next trip.
Build in travel insurance fees
Weather happen. Relatives happen. Whatever, holiday travel plans fall through. With most airlines now charging change or cancellation fees more than the cost of the ticket, this is the best time of year to buy travel insurance.
Also known as the annoying box you forgot to check before clicking "book now," trip cancellation coverage can run you $50 or more on more expensive reservations. But much like rental car collision damage waivers, you don't always need to pay it. "Most credit cards and discount travel programs, like AAA, already have trip cancellation and travel insurance built in," Smith says. "Most credit cards offer coverage up to $1,500 for no extra charge, so be sure to review their terms for purchasing additional trip cancellation coverage." You just want to double-check that the card with the best built-in insurance is the card you're actually using to book your trip.
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