A Lesson Learned Booking A Hotel

© Alikeyou | Dreamstime.com - Businessman Shocked By What He Saw In A Notebook Photo
© Alikeyou | Dreamstime.com – Businessman Shocked By What He Saw In A Notebook Photo

Okay. I have a blog so I can rant. I’ve stayed at many hotels in my lifetime. I make my reservation for the stay I plan to have. I show up, check in and go to my room. At the end of my stay I check out and receive my bill. I understand that I’ll be charged a fee or even a night’s stay if I don’t show up or cancel at the last minute. It’s the wonderful relationship I have with hotels. It works.

I tried something new on my last stay. I booked my reservation using the booking service on TripAdvisor. I was surprised to find out they charged the full stay on my card before I checked in! I know people pay in advance for cruises and tours. I usually don’t pay in advance for a hotel. What if I check out early? I’ve been charged for nights I might not use.

Here’s my biggest concern with this. Go watch Hotel Impossible. There are a lot of poorly managed hotels out there. If I arrive and the place is dirty, smelly, have critters or is in poor repair … I’m history! I’ll find somewhere else to stay. I’ll pay the price of a night stay if I need to. I don’t want to have to fight to get the cost of 2 or 3 day’s back when I didn’t stay 1 day.

I know this maybe petty for some. You might even call me naive for not knowing that booking sites do this. I definitely will view this as a lesson learned.

Don’t get me wrong. I love TripAdvisor for the information. I’ll just book future reservations somewhere else.

Thank you for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Restaurants and the Bathroom Test

I wrote this post for my Wheel Life Thinking Blog in July 2014. It applies to traveling. While exploring, I’ll be taking the bathroom test when I visit restaurants.

Wheel Life Thinking

RestaurantI eat in restaurants often. I like trying new restaurants, especially when brunch is served. I never worried about sanitation in the kitchen or if my server washed their hands. I just enjoyed the food.

TV shows change all that. Try watching shows like Restaurant: Impossible on the Food Network,  Hotel Impossible on the Travel Channel or Bar Rescue on Spike TV. I was shocked at all the unsanitary hotels, bars and restaurants out there. I always knew there are unsanitary places but seeing it on TV brings it to life. How can you tell when you walk into one of these places?

I got up to use the bathroom on one of my restaurant visits. It was really bad. The floors were dirty, the paper-towels had run out and the soap was empty. It hit me, if I can’t wash my hands, my server can’t wash…

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Road Trip Tips

“It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it have not have it.”

Words of wisdom I like to keep in mind every time I take a day trip in my car. Here are some things you should have for your next day trip:

© Curvabezier | Dreamstime.com - Cute Cars Driving On A Road Trip Photo

1 – Visit the ATM before you leave – Cash is still king in many small towns and roadside stops. My wife and I tried to attend a community fair on a trip 2 months ago. There was a cash only entrance fee and no available ATM’s. Many stores, gas stations and food outlets have minimum amounts for credit or debit card charges. A few bucks in your pocket will be very helpful in times like this.

2 – Get an E-ZPass for your car – I know some people feel they don’t travel enough or go through toll booths enough to justify an E-ZPass. They forget that convenience has a value and stress has a cost. I love being able to zoom by the toll booth in the E-ZPass lane! Without the E-ZPass, I would go crazy if I had to wait behind a long line of cars at each toll booth. To me, a less stressful vacation is worth the small cost for the E-ZPass.

3 – Join the American Automobile Association (AAA) – The benefits are enormous; travel information, travel discounts and travel insurance. They’ve even added identity theft monitoring as an option. The main reason to join … roadside assistance! I locked my keys in my car on one trip and had my car breakdown on another. In both cases, all I had to do was make one call.

4 – Store a small first aid kit in your car – There are many first aid kits available for car use. Buy one! “Better safe than sorry!”

5 – Buy bug spray (or check the expiration date) before you leave – You never know when you will need this. I’ve been attacked while pumping gas! Flying critters are always on the lookout. Don’t be their next victim! I always have a can or some wipes in my trunk during road trips.

6 – Give your car a quick checkup – Read my post on this, “AAA’s Easy Maintenance Checks for Motorists“.

7 – If you need a partner for the road trip – Read my post on this, “Find Travel Buddies“.

I hope this helps! Vacations are about building memories. These tips will help make them good memories. What tips would you add?

Thanks for reading the Maryland Travel Stories Blog!

Brent Jackson

AAA’s Easy Maintenance Checks for Motorists

Travel Tips GraphicHere are 7 easy car maintenance checks for traveling motorists from AAA:

  1. Check Brake Fluid Level and Color
  2. Check Engine Air Filter
  3. Check Windshield Washer Fluid
  4. Check Windshield Wiper Blades
  5. Check Tire Pressure
  6. Check Tire Tread
  7. Check Battery

Read the article for more details.

Thanks for reading my blog!

Brent Jackson

Find Travel Buddies

My wife and I travel together and we love it! A great trip for us is a long drive with a good audio-book and scenic views. We’re over the moon if we have a couple interesting places to visit and a good meal at the destination. I work most weekends but I have a free weekend every 6 weeks. When I have a weekend off, we’re in the car going somewhere! It’s about spending quality time together and building memories!

I have a lot of single friends who rarely travel because, well … they’re single. If you’re actively dating, this may not be a problem. Dating and travel go great together in the advanced stages. If you’re not dating and you hate to travel along, then it’s pizza time in front of the TV.

Not married. Not dating. Find travel buddies! I thought I would test my theory that it’s easy to find and make new friends. New friends who like to travel. Meetup.com is a site you can use to find people with the same interests. I set the location to a zip code in Baltimore, MD and did a search for 25 miles in any direction. I used the search term “day trips”. 98 meetup groups came up! 98 groups of people who sometimes travel together. You can also try a search for “travel”, “weekend getaways” or “weekend adventure”.

Pick a group. Join. Make new friends … and start traveling!

Thanks for reading my blog!

Brent Jackson