It’s tempting to upgrade to first class or the penthouse suite when you’re on vacation, because, well, you’re on vacation. But all the little perks designed to make you more comfortable may just be draining your wallet without adding a great deal more comfort. Here I discuss the value—or cost—of several popular travel perks and upgrades:
Flight upgrades and add-ons
Flying isn’t what it used to be. No more free meals, annoying baggage fees, and you have to pay $3 (with a credit card, no less) for headphones that you can only ever use on an airplane. Of course, airlines do provide more comfortable options, like extra legroom and 24-hour Wi-Fi access—but at a price. Is the price worth it?
Generally, upgrades are worth it if you’re traveling long distances. It also depends on what the airline is offering. On Virgin America, for example, $30 will put you at the head of the line for boarding and give you first dibs on overhead storage bin space. $30 doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but if you only have one bag and it’s assigned seating, then you might be better off saving that $30 for, say, a cab ride to or from the airport.
But then there’s American’s Choice Plus, which according to AirfareWatchdog.com, is an $80 upgrade that includes a waived change fee, a free checked bag, first-in-line boarding, mileage upgrades for seating, and a premium on-board beverage. So, if you’re traveling internationally, or during the winter when weather will possibly impede flight plans, this plan, or one like it, is probably worth it.
Peak season travel
Peak season travel is not worth it. I repeat: not. worth. it. Everything is more expensive during peak travel times, and while it might be fun to be among the hustle and bustle in an exciting travel destination, the cost of your flight and hotel may put a serious dent in your budget. Meanwhile, traveling in the off-season can save you up to 50% on hotels and flights, according to SmarterTravel.com.
Car rental insurance
If you already own a car and have insurance, you should be covered, in which case car rental insurance isn’t necessary. However, according to DailyWorth.com, “If you don’t have a car, you’re probably not covered. Your credit card only covers you in a collision with another car, and it typically only covers the rental car.” The website advises finding out what your credit card and your car insurance cover—and what they don’t.
Hotel room upgrades
It is always fun to stay in the penthouse suite, but be sure it’s really worth the extra $100 or so. Sometimes, you’re paying a lot for only a few extra square feet, in which case your money would probably be better spent on a nice dinner or activity for the kids. Also, ask yourself how much time you actually plan on spending at the hotel, and if cushier digs for just a few hours a day is a priority.
What are some of your travel tips and tricks for getting a little extra without breaking the bank? Tell me in the comments section below.