Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gnome on the Range- On Travel

I was discussing travel plans and travel budgets and such folks who are friends but are also in a related field. I'm going out to see Dad again  in about a month and am trying to get out there and back without spending a thousand bucks or more for car and airfare.

It had been a really long day and we were pretty tired as we chatted.

Someone mentioned going through TSA Precheck on a personal trip.

Someone else said:  Yes, that's better than the usual screening--that way you don't get fonded and wandled.

Fonded and Wandled?  Yes that pretty much covers it..
But travel, be it for family or work, isn't really fun. I'm happy as can be to hole up at the Range with Partner on all my days off and not go anywhere, but maybe a meal with some of the gang. Butu I get out to see Dad as often as I can, his time short, those trips as frequent as leave and pocketbook allows.  Usually I have some Hilton Rewards points, but after using them up I made the mistake of using one of those "Budget" trip planning services you see so much on TV on a personal trip. 

You know the one I'm talking about, right? It doesn't have Captain Kirk but rather a cute little gnome that helps you get cheap rates. Well the rates are cheap. But then there are the surprises. The rooms you can get for a cut rate, but add on the taxes and the mysterious "fees" your room has gone up 20%. Yes, in addition to the city tax, hotel tax, airport tax, the "we offer both undrinkable caffeinated AND decaffeinated coffee in your room" tax, there is a "fee" that is unexplained and adds on quite a few bucks to your room cost.

So after little sleep, a long day and the cab ride from hell  that day (I guess the problem with his steering might have been all the dead pedestrians wedged into the undercarriage) I arrived at my "Three and a half star" hotel. My non smoking room had an ashtray in it. Not a good sign. There were TV problems, the regular TV worked, but none of the movies did, not even NaughtyVision. At least the Remove isn't nailed to the night stand like that Days Inn long ago.  At least I could go swim in the hotel pool.

Sorry pool heater broken. (Water may not be as warm as we would like translates to "no running or diving off the ice floes.")
Check in at most hotels and find a room different than what you purchased, problems, services advertised out, Internet or movie channels inop or problems in general, and the hotel itself will usually make it up to you some way. I rarely complain, but when I've had to, I've been upgraded on my next stay at their chain or had a room comped. But not when you book through this discount service. The hotel desk clerk will tell you, with that look doctors give you when they say you have 36 hours to live, "you need to call their customer service". Sure they guarantee "your booking will be right" but when you call their customer service, not only do you get someone in India, they have a command of the English language that consists of the phrases you most often encounter when dealing with outsourced customer service- "thanks for calling insert service provider's service name here" and "NO".

Since them I've learned about the advantages of reward points, calling the hotel direct and other ways to save (seriously, the service is making money off of you so you are NOT paying rock bottom prices for that room).  I've also learned to dislike the Gnome (who is sort of the anti-Flo) and thoroughly enjoyed my gnome target.

But as I head off on another trip, I wrote a little song, which you can sing along to the tune of Roger Millers classic.

Hotel suite for modest rent
but taxes add like 20 percent
No porn, no pool, no pets
place reeks of cigarettes
Ah, but ten hours of wearing flannels
while relaxing with some 50 channels
I'm a gal of means by no means
Queen of the Road



  1. This "advice" may not be useful as I am cheap. In my road warrior days, I found Trip Advisor most useful. http://www.tripadvisor.com/
    For rental cars, two to three pages into Google you can find companies like this.http://www.crownautorental.com/ My only criteria was the car ran. YMMV

  2. That reminds me of my first ever trip to the UK, when a teen, with my folks...it's a tale that deserves good beer and good company!

  3. After I finish stripping the motel bed to check the mattress pad, make sure the bedbugs are on vacation, spray Lysol on the light switches, remote, all handles and the flush knob on the toilet, I always leave the room 100% cleaner than when I found it.

    I wish I could visit my dad. That's the main thing, Brigid. You CAN. So enjoy this wonderful blessing and kick the gnome to the curb.

  4. Average discount to the Online Travel Agents is 20%...

    ANd the motels HATE them. not just for the discount, but also because they usually get the reservation wrong (they always book the chapest room, not what the guest wanted) but they also expect the motel to fix the issue....And if not, then WE have to deal with Zahid the Hindu.

    Trust me, everyone would be happier if you'd book directly with the hotel.

  5. Thanks to those commercials, Captain Kirk is worth $600 million and counting.

    Stream "The Captains" on Netflix one night and you'll see that he isn't flying on a discounted coach ticket. :)

  6. I never use a service or agent I always find online through the hotel or airline travel site. Good luck.

  7. When I travel. I do not fly..... period. I refuse to deal with the TSA at all. No further comment on the TSA and "airport security" should be necessary.

    The aircraft have no room on them, any more. I am tall, and there is NO legroom. I feel like I have been shoe-horned into a sardine can.

    I drive.

    I make my own reservations at hotels by internet and telephone directly to where I want to stay on my journey.

    Please, this is not criticism about anyone else flying. This is just my way of doing things.

    Spend as much time with you Dad as you can. I did with mine before he passed, and he lived a two day drive away from where I live.


  8. I always book directly with the airline, hotel, and rental car companies. Delta for North/South travel, United or USAir for East/West. Fairmont, Marriott, or Westin for hotels, and AVIS for cars.

    We spent 2 weeks in Canada in May, and the looks on peoples faces when they find out you didn't use a travel agency are priceless!

  9. Ain't THAT the damn truth... sigh BTDT WAY too often.

  10. Just came back a couple of weeks ago from a trip to see the granddaughter (and her mother, too).

    Airlines wanted to round-trip us from Oregon to Chicago to Omaha, starting at 0-dark-thirty in the morning. My wife found one way flights both ways at reasonable times through SLC. And a good hotel. But it took her three days of digging to get all the components together.

    The car? Decent rate on the base vehicle, but by the time all the taxes and insurance and "oh, by the way an extra driver is $8/day more" fees added at the counter, we ended up paying a smidge over $80/day for an Xterra.

    It was one of the smaller national chains, but it turns out they're actually owned by Hertz. Apparently there are really only three true national chains, Hertz, Avis and Enterprise. We probably won't be using Hertz nor it's children again.

  11. I know the travel can be a hassle, But... you do get to see, hug, laugh, talk with your Dad, which is the really awesome thing!

  12. Lovely Bride and I live at the confluence of I-5 and I-205 in Vancouver, WA. If we can be of assistance in you travels out here, let us know in advance and we will do our best..

    Earl & Rowena Nash


I started this blog so the child I gave up for adoption could get to know me, and in turn, her children, as well as share stories for a family that lives too far away. So please keep it friendly and kid safe. Posts that are only a link or include an ad for an unknown business automatically to to SPAM..