Three Annoying Travel Costs I always Forget

Even the best accountant can miss costs. I’m not claiming to be one of those, but I can usually guesstimate how much I’m going to spend on a trip. I’m not talking about stuff like Starbucks at the airport, even though those little things add up. Instead, I’m referring to the stuff that I flat over look no matter how much I travel. It absolutely chaps my hide every time. You’d think I’d learn by now.

Airport Parking

Ideally, I’d like to be dropped off and picked up right in front, but finding someone that’s able to go to the airport at 10:30 am on a Tuesday is not an easy task, so often times I just drive myself. If I’ve given myself plenty of time, I’ll use one of the off-site airport parking lots. You know, the ones that pick you up in a little bus and drop you off at your terminal? If I’m really organized then I will have remembered my 20% off coupon.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes I’m running a bit behind and just have to suck it up and park in the airport’s garage. Although convenient, it comes with a steep price tag.

No matter where I park and for how many days I’m gone, I never remember to figure in the cost of parking into my expenses. It stings each time I pull out my credit card to pay for the privilege for my car to have a place to sit. I paid $150 for 17 days of uncovered, off-premise parking during my recent European trip with the 20% off coupon. And for a four-day trip to Boston in January, I paid $80 to park at the airport. Ouch!

Eventually I’ll learn or find a bored friend with no job or life to speak of.

Wi-Freakin-Fi

In this day and age, do hotels not realize that it behooves them to offer free wi-fi? I can promise you that if I have two hotels with most everything being equal {price, location, quality, etc}, I will choose the hotel with the free wi-fi in a heartbeat. Yes, it’s a no-brainer given my ever-present need to be online, but even for the regular, non-Internet obsessed customer, free wi-fi is important.

What burns my bottom more than anything else is when high-end hotels that cost $250+ are charging for wi-fi {I’m looking at you, hotel that uses the 23rd letter of the alphabet as its name}. Perhaps these properties think that if their customers can afford to pay so much per night then an extra $20 on top of the rate will never be noticed. WRONG! As a consumer, I think, “If I’m paying $250+ per night, the least you can do is give me free wi-fi.” Keep your turn-down service and bowl of fruit. Give me free wi-fi so I can tweet and Facebook how damn great your hotel is!

FREE Wi-Freakin-Fi!!!!

Luggage Fees

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “As much as Leah travels, she doesn’t remember luggage fees?” Well, of course I do, although I rarely have to pay them. If my luggage allowance isn’t taken care of through my status, it’s comped through my United credit card. Here’s a tip: If you don’t have status with an airline, get their credit card. Even if the card has a yearly fee and you only fly twice a year, you’ll probably be even-Steven on money. And, you’ll come out ahead of the game if you fly more than that. But I digress.

My issue with luggage fees {other than that they exist} is that they are not consistent between partner airlines. Let me explain. Say that I fly on Platinum status with United to London. Because of that status, I’m allowed something like 70 pounds per bag rather than 50 pounds for those that don’t have Platinum status. It’s one of the perks.

Now, let’s say after a glorious month traveling throughout Europe, I’ve found my way to Frankfurt where I’ll fly Lufthansa back to Houston. Lufthansa and United are both Star Alliance partners and code share some flights, including many of the Frankfurt-Houston routes. I strut up to the Lufthansa counter to check my 70-pound bag and surprise–I’m paying for an overweight bag. “Butttttt…This is a code-share flight! I’m flying on United Platinum status and I’m Gold for Star Alliance,” I whine.

“Es tut mir leid, aber Sie haben zu zahlen.” I think that’s German for “Quit your bitching and pay the fee, lady.”

This has happened to me on several occasions, including with Air China. No matter how much I stomp my feet, puff my lip out, or whine like Veruca Salt, I always wind up handing over the credit card. One day I’m going to learn to streamline my packing for both my back and wallet’s sake.

So there you go. I could make this into a David Letterman Top Ten List but I’ve vowed not to complain as much in 2013, so I’ve limited it to three. Go on. Tell me your annoying travel costs. Let me hear ’em.

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50 Comments
  • Walter
    April 12, 2013

    Yep, that German translation is about correct 😉

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      Hahaha….good. I’m glad I didn’t blow that one.

  • Tom @ Waegook Tom
    April 12, 2013

    Eurgh, the free Wi-Fi thing REALLY bugs me. I don’t understand it at all. Hostels usually offer free Wi-Fi as standard, yet nice hotels don’t seem to do the same. Get with the game, hotel industry!

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      They’re taking a cue from the airlines. Nickle and dime people, I believe. It is quite ironic that the lower-priced hotels and hostels often offer that standard. I think a lot of hotel rooms of high-end hotels are business travelers, so that cost is paid for by their company. Most don’t complain when someone else is paying. Just a theory.

  • joe c
    April 12, 2013

    I so agree. The WiFi fees drive me insane.. how is it that moderate hotels have free WiFi but “luxury” one charge you. As far as luggage really? Am I not suppose to travel with luggage?

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      Oh, you can travel with luggage, but it must be able to fit under or above your seat. That’s totally normal, right?

  • Jeremy Branham
    April 12, 2013

    I have to deal with #1 all the time. I sometimes deal with #2 – it would be nice to have free Wi-Fi in every hotel but I can always use my phone as a hotspot and avoid the charges. I rarely if ever have to deal with #3 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      How do you use your phone as a hotspot in a foreign country without it being crazy expensive or using the bulk of your pre-paid data?

  • Anita Mac
    April 12, 2013

    Luckily, I rarely have to deal with parking. I live close enough to the airport and often manage to get a lift! If not, the cab fare doesn’t break my bank! I am 100000000% with you on the WiFi though. I find it so annoying to have to go down to the lobby for free WiFi – no one wants to listen to me Skype back home, and like you, I need WiFi to do what I do. I will accept a lesser hotel with free WiFi – it’s that important to me!
    And don’t get me started on luggage…
    I would like to add one more to the pot – airport WiFi! I would like to see it available as I travel through various ports. I don’t want to pay for WiFi at each airport as I hopscotch my way across the US ….. it would cost a small fortune on a 3 stop day!
    Ahhhh…rant over!

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      I took a cab home from the airport once and it cost $120. Do that to and from and I’ve got a round-trip ticket to somewhere cool. AMEN on the airport wi-fi. Airports need to get on board with that. I got fed up with it and broke down and got a credit card that allows me into Star Alliance lounges. It’s worth the $400 yearly fee to have wi-fi at the airport.

      • Anita Mac
        April 13, 2013

        I’ve been considering the lounge access credit card. Have been lucky with some trips…my last trip to Europe was business. The Frankfurt lounge is awesome! I really get stuck in the US – the connections are long enough to want Wi-Fi, but as I have to change terminals, not always long enough to use the lounge! With a Canadian phone, roaming kills me! If I find myself more and more in the US, I see an American phone in my future!

  • Emily in Chile
    April 12, 2013

    I flat out won’t stay in a hotel that doesn’t have free in-room wifi if I’m traveling for work, and I’d need a very good reason to do so if I’m traveling for pleasure. When will hotels get it?!

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      I suppose they’ll get it when they see a trend of people choosing their competitor who does offer free wi-fi.

  • Jeff @ Go Travelzing
    April 12, 2013

    Maybe you could pack lighter. 70 pounds is a lot! I don’t like paying for WiFi either especially if the speed is slow.

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      I don’t always pack 70 pounds. That’s only when I’m going to be gone a month, but yes, I do need to pack lighter. Slow paid Internet sends me into a blind rage.

      Truth.

  • Erik
    April 12, 2013

    I’ve actually gotten used to paying for WiFi, especially after New Zealand where its horrible overpriced and band-width limited.

    The cost I think I’m forgetting about on this trip is the phone issue you and I have previously discussed. I’m prepared to buy SIM cards when I need to, but I am a bit of a data junkie and I think that’s going to cost me big time in the end. I know to look for WiFi, but I’m pretty impatient and I that’s going to be this trip’s OUCH factor.

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      Damn! I could have added that to my list, Erik. I always upgrade my phone plan and don’t get the bill until I get back. It’s always a good $80 more than usual. Thanks for reminding me. Now I have something else to bitch about. 😉 Invest in a Mi-Fi and SIM cards. You’ll be able to use the Mi-Fi over and over again. It’s a good solution.

  • Lisa Goodmurphy
    April 12, 2013

    You haven’t heard bitching about the lack of free WIFI until you have traveled with a teenage girl! 😉

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      Oh my, Lisa. This made me laugh out loud. Yes, I can imagine my 15-year old niece. Not pretty.

  • Mike (Nomadic Texan)
    April 12, 2013

    I can’t agree more with everybody on the Wi Fi thing. Drives me completely insane (I know you already think I am crazy!). I don’t use a hotel unless the Wi Fi comes for free. While we are on it, why in hell do airports and airlines have a ridiculous charge for Wi Fi? It should be a free service! That frustrates me to no end!

    I take it you enjoyed your stay at the “W”!

    I also passionately hate excessive weight charges on airlines. I am a Gold American Airlines member and was charged $200 for 10 extra pounds coming back from a South American country. I wanted to jump across the check in desk and strangle the agent who laughed at me.

    By the way, you aren’t bitching, as you state on the cover, you are just stating the facts and voicing the concerns of the oppressed! Safe Travels mi amiga!!!

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      Yep…airports…get some free wi-fi! I predict airlines will always charge unless you’re in business class. First, all planes need to be equipped. $200 for 10 pounds? That’s nuts!

  • Red Hunt
    April 13, 2013

    I’ve had big bills added to my travels for all of these as well….although often its for the pricey cab ride to the airport instead of the parking, depending where I am. Wifi on the other hand I can survive on a 2 days/week fix usually, if need be…I like having an excuse for being antisocial.

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      I’ve done the cab thing mostly heading to the airport in the place I’m visiting. Yes, it absolutely adds to the bill. $100 to get to Heathrow and $60 in Paris…those totally hurt and I often forget to throw that cost into my budget.

  • Walter
    April 13, 2013

    I was in two W hotels just recently and never paid for WiFi… They don’t seem to have common policy on this topic? As we all know from home, WiFi does come at a cost, especially within such a large setup as hotels are offering. But nevertheless, luxury hotels and their according price tags should include free WiFi as well as free fridge usage.

    No need to stuff the most expensive vodka in there…

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      If you’re a Starwood Platinum member (or whatever) you don’t pay at the W. Cost is $14.95 per day at the NOLA W and 19 Euro at the Barcelona W and Paris W. I would imagine there is a charge at all of them. Free wi-fi is in the lobby. You got lucky it sounds like. And ditto on the fridge.

  • Kate
    April 13, 2013

    “Chaps my hide” you really are from Texas! It’s cute! 😉

    • Leah Walker
      April 13, 2013

      You bet your bottom dollar, Kate!

  • Graham GlobalGrasshopper
    April 13, 2013

    Ugh, Wi-Fi nightmares are all too common! I take a mobile wireless router on our travels, in case there’s only an in-room wired connection. Just plug the router in, and create your own wireless network!

    Loved having so much free Wi-Fi in Finland too 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      April 14, 2013

      Mobile wireless router…that’s a GRAND idea, Graham. I need to look into that.

  • @mrsoaroundworld
    April 14, 2013

    Bang on! Airport parking is a pain, don’t get me started on wifi. Luggage fees – I haven’t had an issue (pays to be loyal).. actually I did once recently on Delta. We had no idea and paid $250 each way on luggage alone!! Soooooooo annoyed!

    • Leah Walker
      April 14, 2013

      Exactly, it does pay to be loyal, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. I’ll be flying American and Delta for work in the next month. It’s going to suck when I’m treated like a “regular” person for those flights.

  • lola dimarco
    April 14, 2013

    agreed on ALL these points!! i can tell you this much…i wasn’t too happy about having to pay for a cocktail on my American Airlines INTERNATIONAL flight from Barcelona to Miami. WTF! nickel & dime you every time. you know how i need my cocktails, Leah. after paying $1200 for a flight – the least they can do is give me a freaking free drink. maybe they are just trying to drive me to drink more so i spend even more money.

    • Leah Walker
      April 14, 2013

      Yep, they got rid of free drinks on international flights many years ago. I remember when they used to be free and everybody was bombed after the first two hours. Ha!

      • lola dimarco
        April 15, 2013

        they are still FREE on international carriers. anyway pretty much most international carriers are better than most US carriers!

        • Leah Walker
          April 15, 2013

          I agree that most international carriers are better. I don’t think the booze is free on Lufthansa though. You’d think that the German airline would lead the way in free booze!

  • Michael Hodson
    April 14, 2013

    Hate baggage fees and I can’t believe there are still places that A. don’t have wifi, or B. don’t have free wifi

    • Leah Walker
      April 14, 2013

      Preaching to the choir, Michael. Luckily you can usually count on a Starbucks or McDonald’s for a free wi-fi fix. 😉

  • Cristina B.
    April 14, 2013

    Jordan is amazing! Try to schedule an overnight in Petra, that way you can go into the site early, before the crowds arrive, and see the sun wash over it.

  • One advantage of living in NYC and not driving: I don’t have to pay for airport parking because I don’t have a vehicle to park. 🙂 Sometimes I do end up with expensive cab rides, but whenever possible I take either a shuttle bus, or public transportation to get to or from the airport (JFK and EWR are both served by frequent and inexpensive trains). I also try to do the same in other cities; for example, in London I like riding the high-speed train from Heathrow to Paddington Station.

    • Leah Walker
      April 15, 2013

      Oh yeah, the train from Paddington to Heathrow is great. I rode it a few weeks ago. Too bad Houston doesn’t have a great system like that. It’d save me a lot of time and money.

  • Walter
    April 15, 2013

    If you’re heading to Europe you should consider tripbutler.com

    They offer a little WiFi-in-your-pocket device that helped me a lot already. Some national telcos offer similar devices but they are usually only good for one specific country whereas the TripButler can be configured to connect you in various European countries.

    This obviously comes at a cost but it’s better than roaming deals.

    The little device’s batteries are not the strongest around so you want to use rental car’s USB charging options when using your smartphone as a navigation system.

    • Leah Walker
      April 15, 2013

      I’ve used a Mi-Fi throughout my Euro travels and agree that it’s awesome. You’re right about the battery, but it’s better than the bill I’d get when I returned home.

  • Hogga
    April 15, 2013

    luggage fees and airport parking are soooo annoying!!!

    • Leah Walker
      April 15, 2013

      Soooooooo annoying!

  • Andrew
    April 17, 2013

    We thankfully have no car to park and don’t really fly that often, but the bus from our station to the nearest airport is 40Euro for a roundtrip bustrip. It is at least fixed cost no matter how long we go away for, but it still an extra cost to figure into the flights.

    The wi fi is crazy. Especially as the free wifi seems to come up more often with the more budget concious hotels. I expect the higher end ones expect you are there on business and just have pockets overflowing with cash.

    • Leah Walker
      April 18, 2013

      40 euro is a great price round trip. Ugh…lucky! I totally think you hit the nail on the head in regard to business travelers. If wi-fi is getting expensed, then nobody really makes a fuss about it. But then there’s folks like you and me, too.

  • Manuel Antonio Rentals
    May 2, 2013

    Luggage fees!! I always forget this, what happened to the days when the 1st piece of luggage was free?! Oh that’s right that went away like 5 years ago! It seems like everywhere you turn there are always new fees tacked on to what you thought was already high prices! oh well, C’est la vie…
    Happy travels! ~Erin

    • Leah Walker
      May 14, 2013

      I remember when the first two pieces of luggage were free. Ugh…

  • Dani Blanchette
    January 12, 2014

    I don’t understand how hotels charge for wifi and cheap $20 motels somehow always have amazing free wifi.

    And I usually forget to check or and factor in airport exit fees.

    …or that, when I return to the USA, there is this thing called ‘sales tax’. Every freakin time I come back I forget if something says $40 it really means $43 and change (or whatever). I’ve learned to hate sales tax.

    • Leah Walker
      January 17, 2014

      I told that to a luxury hotel GM just the other day. It makes no sense!

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