How to Avoid Hidden Hotel Fees

BY: - 2 Sep '14 | Travel

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Airlines made the change years ago and started charging for amenities that we all were used to receiving for free on each flight. Items like pillows, blankets, earbuds, and meals now come with a nice little fee that has earned the airlines an additional steady stream of income. Hotels have taken a page out of that revised business plan and started charging for amenities and services that were all once free or shall we say included in the nightly rate. Hotels made $2.5 billion in 2013 with these hidden fees.

A hotel that has a great reasonable/low rate more than likely is going to recoup some of that loss with these hidden fees. For example if you want to store your passport or jewelry in the in-room safe that’s now $1- $3 per night. Checking out at noon and need to store your luggage at the hotel? Well, that’s now a fee called ‘luggage handling’ and it is $1- $5 per bag. If you want to check-in early or check out late, some hotels are now charging $30 for that luxury.

And then there are the ‘mandatory resort fees!’ I started noticing these hidden hotel fees at a lot of family resorts and chain hotels lately. These fees can include: daily newspapers, local free calls, and use of the gym/business center, use of beach umbrellas & lounge chairs, and towels from the pool, especially if you take them back to your room. The main culprit is the ‘internet usage fee.’ They don’t point this out most of the time so you can pay for it again in your room. Double check and ask is wifi included in your mandatory resort fee. There’s no set fee for these and they range anywhere from $20 – $70 per hotel and yes this is a per night fee! BTW, you pay these whether you use the services or not.  (Insert side eye here…lol)

Business travelers they didn’t forget you, they have special fees for you (lol). If you need to ship a package or presentation materials/supplies before you arrive, that’s anywhere between $10 and $70 per package. Need to print that revised presentation before your meeting that fee can be as much as $7.95 per page.

Tips to avoid hidden hotel fees…

  • Do a little research, before you reserve a room at your favorite budget hotel. Visit their website or call and ask for disclosure of what’s exactly included in those ‘mandatory resort fees.’ Make a note of the person you talked to just in case you run into a problem.
  • Know your rights!  All fees must be disclosed at the time of check-in in the ‘reservation agreement.’ Read it carefully and if you discover that you’ve been billed a fee for something that is not in the agreement, bring it to the front desk clerks attention and ask for it to be removed.
  • When in doubt, ask! “Is there a fee for this service?” Remember anything can be removed if you ask nicely.
  • Prepare and pack! Make a list, check it twice and print extra copies of documents or presentations. Stop at a Walgreen’s or Walmart and get your snacks and drinks and avoid the mini bar restock fee.
  • Discover what’s around you! Use your favorite app or ask the front desk clerk for a list of stores and service providers near the hotel. You never know how much you can save yourself by simply walking next door.

The best traveler is an informed traveler, know before you go!

Happy Travels.

About the author

Kirstin Fuller wrote 285 articles on this blog.

Kirstin N. Fuller aka The Travelin Diva is a DC based travel journalist bringing fellow travelers the best deals on family vacations, couples retreats, spa getaways, the best travel gadgets and more in BMWK's exclusive Travel Tuesday & Weekend Travel Guide columns. Check out her new travel blog daily for more deals & destinations www.passenger156.com.

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5 Ways to Protect Your Luggage from Airport Thieves!

BY: - 30 Sep '14 | Lifestyle

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The holidays are quickly approaching and it’s everyone’s favorite time of the year.  We get to enjoy fabulous family meals, catch up with old friends and celebrate the season.  It’s also the busiest travel season of the year and with busy travel seasons comes theft.

Airports recently reported that there’s been an increase resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of checked luggage stolen each year.  Airports have installed cameras around luggage carousels and in cargo areas to deter thefts. TSA has also fired 500+ agents who were caught stealing from customers checked luggage.  To further cut costs though, airlines have eliminated key positions that were responsible for checking luggage with boarding passes at baggage claim exits. Not good for travelers because less security at baggage claim means more theft.

Here are a few ways you can protect your checked luggage from theft during the holiday travel season and whenever you travel:

  • Buy unique luggage.  Invest in a luggage set that is a different color or a fabulous bright and bold pattern. The luggage carousel is a sea of black bags, make yours standout. You will notice your bag quicker on the luggage carousel and if someone tries to leave the baggage claim area with your bag.
  • Lock your bag. Buy a TSA approved lock, something that is durable but easy to unlock.  Be warned that if a TSA agent can’t ‘find their master key’ or if they have trouble with the combinations, the lock will be cut off.
  • Retrieve your luggage ASAP. Don’t waste time, arrive at your baggage claim area before the luggage starts coming off the plane. This will ensure that you’ll get your bags and be on your way with your items safely intact.
  • Leave the Louis Vuitton at home! Don’t check your expensive luggage.  Expensive luggage tempts thieves; they think pricey bags contain pricey items.
  • Use a carry-on bag. The best way to protect your belongings is to use a carry-on bag.  Something that you can pack everything  you need in but small enough to take with you everywhere in the gate area (restrooms, shops, etc.). Carry-ons also save you money! No checked bag fees applied.

Remember theft of checked bags is a big business. So don’t pack any valuables or expensive clothing/shoes/accessories in your checked bag. Also, keep your belongings with you or your travel partner at all times. If you see something/someone acting strange or suspiciously, report it to the nearest airport security/staff member.

Happy & safe travels.

BMWK: Do you usually have a carry on or checked bags when you travel?

About the author

Kirstin Fuller wrote 285 articles on this blog.

Kirstin N. Fuller aka The Travelin Diva is a DC based travel journalist bringing fellow travelers the best deals on family vacations, couples retreats, spa getaways, the best travel gadgets and more in BMWK's exclusive Travel Tuesday & Weekend Travel Guide columns. Check out her new travel blog daily for more deals & destinations www.passenger156.com.

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