|Ruthanne Terrero, CTC vice president–Content/editorial director|
We’re back with another list of “don’ts” when it comes to booking travel on your own. Share this list with your clients so they won’t be duped in to traveling the world without your good guidance ever again.
1 You snagged some really cheap rooms in the tropics during high season. It was almost too good to be true — in fact, you could barely breathe as you clicked the “purchase” button on the booking website. Too bad you didn’t check first on how much it costs to fly last minute to the Caribbean during festive season; it was $2,500 apiece for a middle seat in coach and there were only four of you going. Such a bargain! So what if your first born has to wait another year to start college.
2 Speaking of barely breathing, you didn’t realize that eco-lodge in South America didn’t have air conditioning and you sure wish you had known that the wildlife in the area would have full access to the open-air living room in your “luxury” suite. Your kids loved running around with the flying monkeys and exotic birds all night and you really wouldn’t have minded any of this at all if you’d brought enough Valium to last the week. But you didn’t and your voice was hoarse from screaming at everyone by the time you got home.
3 You heard “all inclusive” and slapped down $2,000 for a two-week resort vacation. But you didn’t read the fine print so you didn’t see that “all inclusive” didn’t include taxes, tips, alcohol, bottled water, soda or transfers to and from the airport. It’s OK, though, because you didn’t need that extra $3,000 you ended up paying at check out, what’s a little more money to enjoy a really good time?
4 You and your wife were so happy to read that the resort you had selected for yourselves had a children’s club, which meant you would finally be able to get some quality alone time together. The one thing you didn’t catch was that your kids had to be at least four years old to spend time there, and your triplets are just three so they were with you the entire trip. Every minute of it. So you came home with great memories of trying to pry your three boys from the chandeliers of the resort’s dining room every night and keeping them away from the adults-only pool as you desperately tried to enjoy some sunshine and get a decent buzz from the $20 cocktails they were selling at the bar.
5 Springing for the pre-arranged $50 transfers to the hotel from the airport, well, that just seemed dumb, so you took a cab instead, even though it didn’t have a meter. Who knew that this part of the world is notorious for getting ripped off by illegitimate cabbies? So yeah, you did use that extra $500 in cash that you’d brought along for shopping for the ransom instead, but eventually, you did get to your hotel. And you did meet some nice people through the experience; the policemen who took your complaint were especially endearing. Now that’s authentic travel.
6 You wanted to live like a local on this last trip you took, so you found a guide online who promised to take you to all the “insider” clubs in New York City. You didn’t realize this meant hanging out with him and his five unemployed friends for three days and that the clubs they liked to frequent played hip-hop music and served only Jell-O shots (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Next time you’ll book a group of pals who prefer chardonnay and classical music, or maybe you’ll just stay home and drink wine in front of the TV.
7 Your friends have had only amazing experiences renting apartments all around the globe with nary a complaint. But you, you smart little devil, you found a website that advertised apartment rentals at an even cheaper rate than Airbnb. It’s amazing how none of your friends are as intelligent as you are, but you like them anyway. And it was OK that there was no electricity or running water at the apartment you booked because you’re not that fussy about where you stay, it’s all about meeting the people who actually live in the destination. And you met plenty of them because the apartment you booked didn’t have a lock on the front door.
8 You only had seven days exactly for your cruise vacation and no more, so you flew in the same day your ship was setting sail from Barcelona. You allowed three hours to get from the airport to the cruise terminal, but your cab driver got lost and you arrived at the dock only to watch the ocean liner disappear into the sunset. It wouldn’t have been so bad but you could hear the music from the sail-away party and you’re pretty sure you heard some champagne bottles being uncorked, too. If only you’d known an expert, someone who could have advised you about international travel and transfers and how to book a cruise, now that would have been really helpful.
9 You were so excited about taking the city tours your cruise line offered in each port, but you just couldn’t figure out how so many of your fellow cruise passengers had private cars and drivers waiting for them in each destination. You were still thinking about it as you boarded the motor coach with 40 other people and took off for that eight-hour excursion of highlights and you only got a little car sick about half way through. You got even more nauseated at dinner that evening as everyone regaled the private lunches they’d had on their private tours and how they each bragged about the shopping they got to do in tiny towns no one had ever heard of. Where did they get this insider information, anyway?
10 Renting a villa has always been your dream. Visions of a fabulous pool with amazing sunsets, your family gathered all around as you all enjoy wonderful shared meals around a long dining room table feasting off of local cuisine have long been on your list of things to do before you die. If only you’d gone to a travel professional to help you make the selection. You couldn’t find the key when you arrived (wasn’t it supposed to be hidden in the mailbox?) so you spent the night on the front porch of the “villa,” which was really someone’s rundown and nearly deserted house. The next day, when you finally got in touch with the owner, you and your family ended up fighting over which bedrooms you didn’t want, because each one was smaller and dustier than the other. And it would have been a true luxury if the “villa” owner had provided fresh sheets for the beds. Just saying.