Treating yourself to a vacation should be just that — a treat. And treating yourself by paying extra for some things you normally wouldn't splurge on, such as a massage on the beach or an overpriced cocktail with a view, should be considered a normal part of some vacations.
But some travel expenses — from small to big — just aren't worth the money. Even some things travelers believe actually save them money are also bad deals. Here are seven of the worst travel values we could find.
Visiting Popular Locations in Peak Season
Sometimes you can't get around this, especially if you have children. If your family is set on going to Hawaii, Disneyland, or another popular resort during summer vacation, then plan on paying more as you compete with the masses for flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, and anything else you need.
Room Service Breakfast
It sounds like a good idea at night before you go to sleep: Check off a few items on the doorknob menu, and in the morning breakfast will be delivered to your door. While you may save time while getting ready for the day in your room, you probably won't save any money.
Look closely at the room service menu and you'll not only see inflated prices for nearly everything, but delivery charges are usually exorbitant, too. The hotel restaurant is usually a cheaper alternative, and if that doesn't work for you, find someplace else nearby that serves breakfast.
Paying for Wi-Fi
Putting technology aside can be a good goal during vacation, but sometimes it's not that easy. An Internet connection can help you plan the next day by studying maps and looking for things to do. Unfortunately, travelers are often charged for Wi-Fi access, with $15 for 24 hours of use common.
High-end hotels are more likely to charge for Wi-Fi, while smaller ones are getting the message that guests don't want to pay for such basic services, and usually offer it for free. If you can't get Internet service for free in your room, go to the lobby and have your device search for free access.
Not Doing the Math on Credit Card Points
If you have a hotel credit card that gives you reward points for spending, it can be a smart way to get a free room for a few nights while you're on vacation. But different cards and loyalty programs offer different values for their points. Before you choose where to spend your points on (or even which travel reward card to sign up for), do your research to figure out which program has properties and award flights where you want to go.
Perks That Cancel Each Other Out
Stacking perks is a great idea, but sometimes they can cancel each other out, and you won't get as great of a value as you thought. For example, using Hotels.com coupons prevents users from collecting its Welcome Rewards. And using one of its coupons that's worth less than 9% is actually worth less than using the reward points.
Its Welcome Rewards gives users a free night for every 10 when collecting rewards, essentially giving 11 stays for the price of 10 — roughly a 9% savings. Therefore, finding a coupon worth 10% off or more is a better deal than collecting reward points. But if the coupon is less than 9%, then the rewards points offer better savings.
Travelers can also use a rewards credit card to earn points and and use coupons or collect rewards to double down on benefits.
With few exceptions, guided tours are often overpriced side trips that you can plan on your own. Tours are especially popular at cruise ship dockings, and can be booked through the cruise line at mega mark-ups. Instead, find a locally governed taxi to take you to the beach — along with a return trip.
Saving Money Over Time
Your vacation time is limited, making it a valuable asset that shouldn't be wasted. That hotel on the outskirts of town is probably a lot cheaper than one downtown, but it won't look like much of a deal when you spend an hour on a train or bus to get to the historic center of town.
The same goes for travel. A short flight or train trip in Europe is more expensive than taking a bus or ferry (or both), but it will give you more time to spend exploring Paris, for example.