How to Get What You Paid for in Your Travels

We all love a good deal! But after you book something a few months in advance, take a long-haul flight, fight jet lag, and finally get to where you’re going, the details can become… Well, fuzzy.

And, whether unintentionally or on purpose, that means you might get taken advantage of. This has happened to everyone, so don’t feel bad if it happens to you! But at the same time, if you can prevent it, you should try to do so. Here are the key ways that we make sure we get what we pay for in our global and domestic travels!

Read the Rules Before You Pay

Planning and research are key to travel, saving money, success in any field, etc.! So, read the fine print and know what you’re signing up for. Look for the exceptions and potential loopholes. E-mail or call and ask questions if you need to. Just make sure you know the rules so you can play the game and win. And most importantly, make sure you understand the rules completely before you pay!

Airline and hotel games can be incredibly rewarding, but you have to play by the rules!
Related: How to Save During Your Travels (without FOMO)

Know What’s Included in that Price Tag

Just like knowing the rules, it’s important to know what you actually paid for. Were you offered an upgraded hotel room, guaranteed better seat, or free gift on arrival when you booked? Did you book the “all-inclusive package?” As an example, I was looking into going on this all-female trip to a new place a few months ago. It was kind of expensive, but for such a unique opportunity, I thought it was probably worth it. I was just about to hit accept, but then I read the fine print. That hefty price tag did not include the cost of international flights, tips (essential in the country I’d be visiting), travel insurance or medical insurance (although both were required), or two of the sites listed in the itinerary!

Instead of the quoted $8,400 price, the realistic cost would have been closer to $12,000 after all those added costs. I’m so glad I read the fine print so I didn’t choose that tour! (And, in fact, I was able to find a much better company to go with at a much better price!)

Know if your cost includes tips, excursions, reservations, etc.!
Read on: The Biggest Money Wasters on Travel (and how to avoid them)

Re-Confirm in Advance

There are few things that are more disheartening (and sometimes maddening) than planning something in advance, making reservations, looking forward to it, and arriving on time, only to find that there is no record of your reservation or purchase! It takes so little time to re-confirm via e-mail or phone call, so there’s every reason to re-confirm one way or another.

More and more often, companies are sending reminder e-mails the day or two before an event or reservation, so make sure you click the appropriate option to confirm that you’ll be there. Otherwise, you may find yourself out of luck!

Restaurant reservations, hot-air balloon reservations, event reservations…. Always re-confirm in advance!
More here: Travel Splurges Worth the Price

If You Don’t Get It, Ask for It

If you know what you’ve paid for, you’ll know if you don’t get it. Maybe that won’t bother you at all. Maybe that thing that’s included in the cost of your hotel, flight, meal, etc., isn’t something you necessarily wanted anyway. But if it is, you can and should ask for it. Ask the manager, ask at the front desk, ask whoever’s in charge. Just be nice about it, always, no matter what.

As an example, on a recent trip to Hawai’i, Steve and I were supposed to receive a tote bag and a lei upon check-in. While those are not make-or-break items, we had paid for them with our resort fee. A reusable bag is important in Hawai’i because customers have to pay for bags at shops and stores, sometimes $2.00 or more per bag! Also, a lei makes a nice souvenir that we actually use. So when we realized we were supposed to get them, we went to the front desk to ask, and we were given both with no issue!

It might seem cheesy, but we really do wear our leis from Hawai’i, and sometimes we use them as decoration in our home!
Keep reading: 6 Unexpected Ways I Can Afford to Travel

Have the Confirmation Info Handy

At the same hotel I mentioned above, the rate for the room we booked came with a two-hour guaranteed late check out. That’s really nice to have in Hawai’i, where most flights to the mainland leave in the late afternoon or evening. But, the experienced travelers in us knew we would want to confirm in advance instead of expecting the late check out to be seamless. I’m glad we did!

When we asked about it at the front desk the day before check out, the woman working there had no idea what we were talking about. We had the confirmation e-mail and booking app already pulled up on our phones to show her as proof. She was very nice about it and made sure our keys would keep working two hours after check out time.

If we hadn’t had our confirmation ready to show her, however, it would be our word against the hotel’s policies, and we would not have won! If we hadn’t asked about it at all, chances are good we would have been locked out of our room those last two hours!

As a result, Steve and I got to enjoy the pool and big slide a little longer!
Read next: How to Be Your Own Travel Advocate

Want more? Get all my best travel tips, hacks, and advice on my dedicated Travel Budget and Savings Page!

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