Vacation Deals: Buyer Beware

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July 26, 2017 by Lisa Brammer

Taking a summer vacation is beneficial in so many ways. Time away from work or school is known to lower stress, increase creativity, improve mental health and develop personal relationships and family bonding. And it’s not like you really have to go anywhere. Staycations can be just as beneficial.  The important thing is to take time off of work to recharge your batteries.  But if you happen to be one of the lucky ones who’s actually planning on going away somewhere for a summer vacation, there are some financial pitfalls that can take place during the planning/booking phase of your vacation you should be aware of.  You’d hate to have many of the benefits of taking a vacation be wiped away because you accidentally blew your budget and returned from vacay stressed out about the unexpected debt you incurred.

When estimating the cost, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by prices quoted online, oftentimes taxes and fees aren’t included. Take airfare for example. I recently booked a flight to Hilton Head for a destination wedding my husband and I are attending at the end of August.  Trying to stay ahead of things, I set up an alert on my phone so I would be notified if airline prices went down. Nice, right?  Well, I got an email saying ticket prices were down to $240.00 round trip. Sweet!  But after taxes and fees were added, I actually ended up paying over $300 per ticket—an increase of 25 percent. And that’s before paying extra for checking our luggage.  Fortunately we are packing light and will only be checking one bag. That added another $50.00 ($25.00 each way) to our total.  So, the $480.00 price (for two people) that was quoted on my phone, ended up actually costing us over $650.00. Ouch!  Of course some airlines let you check luggage without additional fees and others make you pay if you want to sit next to your traveling companion. The important thing is to keep your eyes open to these additional costs—they’ll nickel and dime you to death!  Same thing happened when booking our hotel room.  I went to the website of the resort where the wedding is taking place and checked to see if there was a block of rooms reserved at a discounted rate.  After finding out those were already booked (procrastination bit me again) I clicked on ‘best available rate’.  It was a little more than I planned on spending, but since we want to be a part of all the destination wedding festivities I decided to book it anyway.  After receiving my confirmation email I had to gulp, an additional 18 percent was tacked on to the quoted price for taxes, resort charges, and destination fees. Of course we all know taxes will be added, but the additional resort and destination fees really hurt.  Don’t even ask me about the rental car.

Of course, my experience isn’t an isolated event. I recently read an article in Forbes that said that travel-related taxes can increase travel cost by more than 58 percent!  According to the Global Business Travel Association, the most expensive U.S. domestic destination by travel taxes is Chicago, followed by New York City and then Minneapolis.

With all the fees, taxes, and other sundry charges tacked on to travel charges, it seems like they are going to get us one way or another. The important thing is to plan for them. That way you can keep your vacation costs within your designated budget—forewarned is forearmed.

Hope you have a great summer vacation. Safe and happy travels!

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