*The following Story is fictional, any resemblance to any actual events is purely coincidental*
Story time everybody!!
So let’s talk about the Smith family. Bob Smith decided he wanted to take his family in vacation to an incredibly popular theme park during spring break so his kids wouldn’t miss any school (education is super important). He went online and booked an amazing deal at a hotel “walking distance” from the theme park. He thinks that he did a great job and goes and tells the family that he just planned the best vacation ever.
So a couple weeks go by, Bob and his wife Doris pack up their kids and set off for the amazing vacation that they were promised. Full of excitment and anticipation, they just can’t wait to start having fun.
Well, when they arrived at their hotel (the one that was “walking distance” from the theme park), they realize that it’s nearly 5 miles away from the theme parks and that the hotel is actually going through renovations (jackhammering to commence at 7am each morning). Well Bob wasn’t going to let these set backs ruin the vacation he and his family desperately needed. So Bob paid for the hotel room, only to be told that he needed to also pay the mandatory $32 resort fee and $15 parking fee for each day of his reservation. Bob had no idea when he made the reservation that he was going to have to pay for more than just the advertised price.
Everyone got back in the minivan and they decided it was time to start having fun and headed to the theme park. They get to the parking garage, $18 for parking. Bob is starting to feel frustrated at all these extra costs for his vacation and the rest of his family is starving because they haven’t had anything to eat since they left home.
They park and pull out the giant cooler full of food that Doris packed for their adventure and head to the escalator. 30 minutes later they’re on a tram and finally heading to the theme park. They get off the team and carry the huge cooler through a large crowd of people heading toward… Metal detectors? Bob, Doris, and the kids are confused. Well turns out that there is a pretty large security presence during more popular times of year. After another 10 minutes, they get to the front of the line. Bags are to be inspected and everyone goes through the metal detector. Bob and the kids barely are able to lift the cooler on to the inspection table before the security guard says “coolers aren’t allowed in the theme park, but you can out it in a locker”. An hour and $15 later, Bob is back to the front of the security line and can finally head to the theme park… Or so he thinks…
Bob forgot to buy tickets when he booked the hotel room. So he stands in line at the ticket window to buy tickets. $235 for each ticket. Bob nearly loses it. How could a theme park dare to charge so much for just a ticket to get in. He lays down his already tired credit card, gets his tickets, and takes his family to the front gates.
Poor Bob, he totally could have saved himself a lot of trouble and a headache if he had just done some basic planning for his family vacation.
I know that it may seem like a far-fetched story but trust me, there are a lot of Bob Smith’s out there in the world. Its incredibly easy to relate to him, because we have all been there. We have these lofty dreams of an ideal vacation, but didn’t put the time in to actually make it happen. Our anticipation makes is set off on what we are expecting to be this grand adventure, only for reality to leave us disappointed and wondering what went wrong.
Well…not anymore! Here are some tips that have been put together to make sure you’re not going to end up like another Bob Smith and can actually get closer to that grand adventure that you deserve.
- When booking a hotel, look at the fine print. Find out if what you thought was a good deal, is actually too good to be true. Mandatory resort fees are becoming increasingly more common in areas that are heavily visited by tourists.
- Check yelp or tripadvisor! Most large hotel’s will put a disclaimer on their website to let you know about renovations, but third-party websites (orbitz, booking, expedia) don’t always have the most up-to-date information. So many people depend on these websites for honest reviews from past guests. They are a very useful tool, especially if you are not familiar with the area you are visiting.
- Put the hotel’s address in to your GPS prior to booking it. There is no point in spending more money on gas or on parking fees, when you could have booked a closer hotel and walked. Or even better, taken a free shuttle offered by the hotel. This may seem minor, but it will definitely save you time and frustration when you are trying to enjoy your vacation.
- Check the website of any theme park, museum, or general attractions that you may want to visit. They will have important information posted such as: parking costs, admission costs, and what is and isn’t allowed inside. And most of the time, buying admission tickets prior to arrival will have more benefits than just skipping the line at the ticket windows. For example, Universal Studios Hollywood opens an entire hour earlier for guests that pre purchase tickets. I mean that’s a pretty good incentive to buy them online.
I hope this helps. Happy traveling everybody!