Hipmunk issued an infographic to people on its mailing list today, and I found it interesting. It outlines all the little ways you can get dinged by airlines, hotels, and associated merchants along the way when you travel. I enjoyed it because it highlights how important it is to take a holistic view of travel and look for lots of ways to save money when traveling.
When people ask me where’s a cheap place to visit, I might suggest Bangkok as one idea. Sure it’s expensive to get there, but once you arrive everything is pretty cheap. Contrast this with Las Vegas. You can drive from Southern California, but many of the fancier hotels (and everything is moving upscale there) can cost $200-300 a night on weekends. If you don’t pay attention to all the costs of a particular destination — and how to avoid some of them — you might pass up on a truly great opportunity.
Skip to the bottom and I’ll explain how I avoid some of these costs.
Parking at the airport? I pay under $5 a day. Taxes and fees are about $10 per visit regardless of the length of stay. I don’t think I’ve ever paid $75 for parking.
Books, magazines, food, and water are things I would buy without traveling. But getting an upgrade on a regular basis does provide free food and entertainment.
Baggage is free for me as an elite member at United. I can ship up to three 70-lb bags per person on my flight, and I’ve only gotten close to that threshold once.
I paid for hotel WiFi once when I was young and stupid. Now I get elite status via promotions, hotel stays, or credit cards. Check out this list for major chains.
Resort fees are sometimes discounted if you have elite status, but this is not always advertised. The Hyatt Regency Waikiki waives fees for Diamond members.
If self-parking is full, I can sometimes get a discount when forced to valet park. But it’s a good way for the hotel to add 10-20% to your bill in busy locations.
Finally, who’s complaining about the cost of neck pillows? Most frequent travelers don’t carry them, yet on almost any redeye flight there is an infrequent traveler who brings a full-sized pillow and blanket. This is unnecessary. Please do not follow Hipmunk’s advice and bring your own from home.