A Travel Mistake Confession

by Kay Lynn

Westin Food Bowls

Travel is a passion of mine only kept under wraps by budget constraints.  I like to think I know how stretch those dollars on cruising, airfare, hotels and more.

It’s worked out well for us over the years and we never pay full price.   The hotel I prebooked for our holiday travels seemed like a deal too.  Until it wasn’t.

Award Programs

Because of frequent travel for work and pleasure I belong to lots of travel award programs for the many airlines, hotel and rental car agencies used. The points add up to a couple of free flights and hotel nights a year.

Two nights of our holiday travel this past Christmas were booked with Marriott points.  I was feeling pretty savvy until I checked in.

Unexpected Cost

Before I get to the unexpected cost, let me share why we drove.  My husband wanted to take Charger, our spoiled basset, with us instead of having him spend the holidays being boarded.

Most hotels charge a fee for pets due to extra cleaning that may be needed.  I forgot about the fee when making the reservation and made an assumption it would be $15-$25.

Upon check-in I learned the hotel charged the pet fee per stay instead of night and it was a whopping $100.  Suddenly my free hotel room wasn’t such a good deal!

In fact, the hotel across the street advertised rooms for $20 less plus pets stay free.  Since I was going to lose my points whether we stayed or not, we paid the fee.

Lesson Learned

We had two more hotel stays during the trip and the first question I asked after getting a price quote was about the pet fee.  It’s important to consider all costs and fees when making travel arrangements.  They can add up to make the “good deal” a bad choice.

After getting burned, I will be extra vigilant about fees, at least in the near future.

Last year I lost money buying airline tickets before getting vacation time approved and then having to cancel the trip.  I wonder if I’ll ever stop making costly travel mistakes.    Have you made a costly travel decision?

 photo by Sarah_Ackerman

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Money Beagle February 6, 2012 at 7:19 am

My last huge travel goof was when we were planning a vacation with my in-laws to Florida. There was back and forth many times on the week we were going to go. I booked the tickets and realized a couple of weeks later that I had booked for the wrong week. The fares were the same price but I had to pay $300 for the re-booking fees.

Shawanda @ You Have More Than You Think February 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I remember I made a mistake in booking airfare for a conference I wanted to attend. I recognized my mistake almost as soon as I paid for my flight. I booked my return flight on the morning of the last day of the conference. Since the conference ended in the evening, I was pretty upset I’d be traveling home hours before it ended. I called Priceline once I noticed my error. Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay any change fees since I’d just booked the flight.

The lesson here is that our brains are screwed up and are more prone to catching mistakes after we click “submit”, “publish” or “place your order.” That’s why I try to review what I’ve done after I press any of the aforementioned buttons. You have a better chance of minimizing the damage if you correct your mistake early on.

Thomas - Ways to Invest Money February 6, 2012 at 7:50 am

Wow that almost ended up being a waste of points. I know my wife and I are planning for our trips and the first thing we check are pets fees. If they are at a min then we take the dog if not we end up leaving her at a pet sitter. I almost messed up once when booking to Vegas and not paying attention that if a 3rd person stayed in the room it would be another 50$ per night.

FG February 6, 2012 at 11:53 am

I guess it’s always good to enquire. I recently paid almost $20 for a fax that I assumed would be $1 – $2 at the most. Definitely not doing that again.

Newlyweds on a Budget February 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Wow that is one hefty pet fee. But considering you got the rooms for free, that’s like $50 a night right? And it was still a fabulous room…live and learn.

Hack @ Smart Money Hacks February 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Ouch! I double booked a flight once…genius move. One person, two tickets…not smart. Luckily for me, it was only a $75 loss (the price paid to change the ticket for another trip).

Paul @ The Frugal Toad February 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm

It’s the unexpected costs that can really hurt the budget. That’s where the emergency fund comes into play. Having that cushion available to cover unexpected costs makes handling these types of situations much easier.

shanendoah@the dog ate my wallet February 7, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Charger is adorable. For future travel with him, you might want to check out gopetfriendly.com – they maintain a list of pet friendly hotels, restaurants, etc.
My biggest mistake came from not cancelling our timeshare booking with enough advance warning a few years ago. Luckily, the cabin ended up getting re-booked for the full time, so we were able to get a full refund of our timeshare points.

Jai Catalano February 8, 2012 at 3:52 am

Could you have argued that after the fact? My brother has a way of handling these unexpected situations to the point of discounts. I have seen him do it time and time again. I even said he needs to write a book about how he does it. Just wondering because I would have fought that one.

Tyler S. February 9, 2012 at 11:57 am

My sister added some gas (and lost time) costs to our roadtrip by taking us in the wrong direction after we stopped for gas. It made for a good laugh a few days later. 🙂

Don’t forget to call ahead when you’re bring pets!

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