Sunday, July 28, 2013

Hidden Vacation Cost

Hopefully, unexpected travel expenses do not have you settling for a luggage dolly bed.

I just came back from vacation and am still reeling from surprise costs. Let me warn you about a few.
·         Car rental- that great 19.99 dollars a day is only the starting price. We rented a car for four hours to see my son at his base. It was $75 total. At first, they tried to charge me for two hours because we showed up thirty minutes early.
·         Parking can put a dent in your budget. My conference was at the Atlanta Marquis Marriot, which charges $32 a day for parking. However if you want a valet to park your car. expect to tip him around ten to twenty dollars.  I guess you can see why we didn’t keep the rental car. Think your parking is too high. Some hotels even put boots on the car to prevent the owners from driving away after finding out how expensive the parking is. Your car is hostage.
·         Taxes on your room and dining. Hotel and restaurants charge higher taxes to make money on the tourist. Our room ran $30 dollars in taxes alone. That would put it at a 20% tax rate.
·         Luggage-every piece of checked luggage runs about $25. Southwest allows you to check your first suitcase free. Some airline credit cards allow you to do this too.
·         Overweight luggage.  A couple of ounces may inflate your $25 checked luggage fee into a $50 charge. They measure and weigh the bags. Check out your airline site to make sure your bag qualifies.
·         Sky Caps- those sweet gentlemen who allow you to check in at the curb work on tips only. The airline does not pay them. Suggested tip is five dollars a bag. If they get you a better seat, then tip more. They may not offer this service anymore since airlines figured out they could charge more for particular seats.
·         Better seats on the plane cost. Do not assume if you bought tickets at the same time that your family will sit together.  Planes are traveling fully loaded, and are often double booked. They count on at least five people not making the flight. With this in mind, airlines have you pay $10-$30 a person to sit together or load earlier.
·         I discovered with Air Tran business class you could check two bags free, you get to load first and deplane first and free cocktails. In coach, these services would cost you an additional $80 while the upgrade to business class is $69. A definite plus.
·         Tipping hotel personnel is usually an unexpected charge. Think you can roll your own bag behind you? I thought that too. I found my bag whisked away from me put on some baggage rack and I did not see it again for thirty irritating minutes until the hotel staff member brought it. He stayed until tipped.
·         Ticket tax. Did you think the theme park ticket was expensive? You probably didn’t count on taxes either. Your $95 Disneyworld tickets jumps to $102 with tax.
·         Think your kids are growing up fast? They are growing faster than you think when buying tickets. Universal allows the kid label only up to the age of nine and even then, tickets are $89. I watched a clever employee asked a small statured child how old he was before a parent could intervene. Children will volunteer their ages and at times inflate it too. Try to explain that to the cashier.
·         No fridges in your hotel room. Check twice on this. Places that usually had fridges, such as  Super 8 and Motel 6 found they could now charge you extra for a fridge in your room, even up to $20 a night. Even if the website states that you should have a fridge in your room, you may not. Insist on your fridge.
·         Internet- while many places from Staples to McDonalds offer free Internet often your hotel will charge you from $15-$20 a day. To make your need for Internet urgent, signal dampeners in the hotel mess with your smart phone connections.
·         Everything in the hotel is expensive from $6 bottles of water to $10 egg salad sandwiches. Plan ahead. You can bring your own water and snacks to your room.
·         Cruises are probably the biggest culprit of the switch and bait promotion. I tried to book a cruise online with the Royal Norwegian line that offered a 3-day holiday cruise through the Bahamas for $179. I could not book it online when I called the booking agency the $179 inflated to almost $600. I didn’t book. They even included possible price increase clause even after you pay in case the cost of fuel goes up in the intervening time.  Disney Cruise Line while not cheap on the initial glance does not add on fees.
·         Never underestimate food. You are probably heading for a tourist destination. Even a Big Mac or a Whopper usually runs a $1 higher. If you can find a Cici’s pizza buffet, you can really save money.
·         If you’re lucky, your hotel may offer a free breakfast. Take advantage of this. Otherwise, head out for breakfast because it will be the cheapest meal of the day. Try for a late lunch to take advantage of lunch rates. Dinner can be snacks or casual to avoid the staggering dinner rates.
·         Alcohol and ice cream is where you really see price inflation spiral out of control. Most hotel bars do think $9-$11 is an average price for a drink, even beer or wine. You can always bring alcohol to your room, but not ice cream. Many gift shops and pushcarts carry a variety of ice cream, which is cheaper than the parlors.
If you know of any sneaky charges I didn't mention. I would love to hear about them.

No comments:

Post a Comment