Finances & Money

Getting whacked by the airline fees

In just over 2 weeks, we’ll be on our way to Israel for a 9 day trip to see the Holy Land. While we paid for the trip months ago, there was still one lingering charge outstanding: fuel surcharge and security fees.

In the initial estimate, the travel agency figured we would have to pay about $250 each, or $500 total for both of us. But since you don’t pay the charge until the tickets were purchased, we had to wait for months to find out the actual fee. Well, the tickets were purchased last week, and the fee is a bit higher than $250.

In total, we’ll be paying $620 for fuel and security fees. Tack that onto the money we already paid for the trip and it begins to get very pricey. However, we’re still comforted by the fact that everything except lunch and trinkets is covered, and we don’t plan on bringing back many trinkets (if any).

Now I will admit a few things about this trip:

1) We had never planned on any trip this year. Yeah, I tell people they need to budget and plan, but then I go and spend thousands on a trip without research.

2) We never budgeted for the trip. Luckily we had a few months to pull the money together, so I used our debt overpayments and side income to pay for the trip.

3) We didn’t research other trip options. We found out our church was going on this trip, and they’ve done it before, so we trusted them to be wise with their selections. While I generally like to plan a trip myself (I always make fun of bus tourists), since this is a unique opportunity AND in a rather ‘tense’ location, I let it up to seasoned professionals to plan it for me.

Actually, I very much trust our pastor with financial and safety decisions. He’s a stickler for value, but doesn’t skimp on quality. He’s done this specific trip 4-5 times already, and can vouch for its value. The tour company has been doing this trip for over a decade, and has been doing pilgrimage tours for over 30 years.

The last big trip we planned was 5 years ago: our honeymoon to Ireland. We planned and budgeted for the trip for over a year, and in the end, the whole thing cost us about $3,500-$4,000, even with souveniers. We stayed in a castle on the first night ($200), but then stayed in a B&B in whatever town or village we reached by evening. I drove the whole time (over 1,000 miles), and we had a blast.

With that said, this trip will cost us $5,500, plus lunch and souveniers. I expect it to top out at under $6,000. Wow, that’s a lot of money. But to put it in perspective, our single friend spent over $6,000 on a trip to Alaska just for herself. It wasn’t even a cruise! It was some outdoorsy stuff. For a “once-every-5-years” thing, I’m not upset about our decision, but I think in the future we’ll plan a little better.

So what’s next on our travel agenda? Well, we’re thinking of the following locales (in no particular order):

  • India (it was actually on our more immediate to-do list until this trip)
  • Ireland (again. We loved it so much)
  • Italy (also on the short-list before the Israel trip)
  • Ethiopia (don’t ask)
  • Chicago (to see my grandmother. She’s in her 80s and actually knows how to read my site! But I have seen her in almost 20 years)
  • Driving trip across the U.S. (or smaller portions of it. I love to drive and Stacie loves to watch the landscape flash by at extreme speeds)
  • Pacific Northwest (ok, I added this one. It would include Oregon, Washington and probably Vancouver)

As you can see, we’re very fond of countries beginning with the letter “I”. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind checking out Iceland, if they weren’t in a total financial tizzy right now. Actually, our church just had a trip there last month and we could have signed up, but only one big trip per year for us, thanks!

Where would you like to go? Any recommendations for our “free day” in Jerusalem? Any travel tips for Israel (specifically from anyone who traveled there recently)?

About the author

Clever Dude


  • Mr Chiot’s and I are saving for a dream trip to Alaska. We’ve estimated it’s going to cost around $12000. We’re over halfway there- yeah! But it’s a trip we don’t want to skimp on. We’re getting room with balcony on the cruise and we’re doing whatever we want to do, no matter the cost. We’re taking a few weeks off work for it as well.

  • CD,
    I am now living out here in Oregon and working at a great resort on the coast in Cannon Beach. If you look me up, I’ll hook you up. Friends and family rate baby! In fact, one of our properties, the Stephanie Inn, was just mentioned on the Today show as the number three hotel in the USA by Conde Nast. But personally I’d recommend the Surfsand – the one I work at.|51|8^678911275|0|59^678912045|0|59^678912847|0|59^678913665|0|59^

    (at about 4:06 in the video)

    Have fun in Israel though.

  • I’m not sure if it’s included in your itinerary or if it’s offered as an optional extra, but I highly recommend crossing the Jordanian border and see Petra. It’s much better than the hype, and there is only one other place on earth I can say that about (so far). I spent two days walking and scrambling around the Petra, which is a complex of Nabatean/Roman tombs amongst the siqs (canyons) – it’s one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, and the Roman Treasury facade was featured in Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade.

  • I LOVE to travel. And I try to do it as inexpensively as possible. I have visited Turkey, Germany, Italy, China, Thailand, Taiwan, England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Costa Rica, Honduras, Belize, Holland, and of course MExico and Canada.

    For my trip to Thailand, we did 13 nights all over northern Thailand (Chang Mai, Chang Rai, Golden Triangle, Mekong River, Bangkok and several other locations). My trip, last October, was $1299 and included airfare, hotel, english speaking guide, entrance fees to sights, transfers, and some meals. We had a fantastic time.

    I have also done a 7-night cruise to
    Cosumel, Honduras, and Belize with and ocean view room for only $500 per person per night. And yes, it was all inclusive.

    I went to China for 8 days in Beijing. Once again transportation (including airfare), hotel, english speaking guides, and entrance to sights for $1100.

    Also, went to an all-inclusive resort in Cabo San Lucas, airfare, hotel, food, drinks, transportation, etc for $400 per person for one week.

    I find most of my fabulous deals using the website,

    Have fun!

  • You are going to LOVE Israel. I have spent a lot of time in that country and I can tell you it is really awesome. Prepare for some massive fun. Here are some options for your free day in Jerusalem (although many may already be included in your itenirary): (i) old city market – it’s just an awesome place to wander around; (ii) Supreme Court building – really nice architecture; (iii) Old City Walls – walking around the walls is a great way to see the city; (iv) National Museum – I bet this is already in your plan, but if it isn’t be sure to go there to see the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    One other comment – don’t you think it’s crazy that you still need to pay a fuel surcharge when oil is down from $147 to $64? I think it’s preposterous….

  • I’m in Egypt at the moment, and I think the trip will come to around the $1800 mark for 8 days for one person in total. Kind of not bad.

    I have in mind Syria, Jordan, Laos, Mongolia or Uzbekhistan for my next trip. Not sure it’ll be next year.

  • Ouch. Those fees are pretty steep. Since fuel prices are dropping, you have to wonder when, if ever those ‘extra’ baggage and fuel surcharges are ever going to be dropped.

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