Planning a Trip: How Much is Your Time Worth?
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am the queen of cheap travel. I like to go to unique and exotic places for practically nothing – who wouldn’t, right? I went to Brazil for 10 days and only spent about $1200 (airfare included), four of us backpacked through Europe for 12 days for about $2500, and I’ve gone on several other trips at great prices. The problem is, I would spend hours and hours searching and looking for the best deal. I would spend all day “Naming my own price”, and haggling over a few dollars.
Recently when I wanted to go on a little “get-away” to Key West, I went right back into my old habit of surfing the internet for the absolute best deal possible. I dialed up the connection (yes I still have dial-up) and started searching for my vacation. I typed in “Key West Vacation” and get a link on Clyde’s Key West, info on stuff to do – that’s great once I get there – oh, here’s a site that reviews vacation packages, I’ll go there double click…. loading… loading… This is taking for ever.
Oh, here we are – “Hotel rooms from $59.” I go in there and put in my dates and return with a price of… $129. What?? $129, but it said $59. So I click back and see that it says, FROM $59. Does anybody ever get the “from” price? I decide to check out the airfare and get on one of those budget air sites. I enter the required information and come back with a price of… $600 per person. That doesn’t seem very budget during the off season. I’ll try it again. I change a few things around and come up with a price of…$379 per person. Ah ha! I’m excited, now we’re getting somewhere. I try to purchase, double click…. loading… loading…. loading…. Uh oh, the fax is ringing. Nooo!!! It booted me off. Dialing again. I hurry back to the site, re-enter my info and come back with a price of… $669 per person. ?? This is the exact same flight I just got for $379! Alright, I’m going to go to another website and try it again. I look at the clock. Oh my god, it’s been three hours. I hear the fax machine. Booted off again.
I can’t believe it, after three hours I am still nowhere on my vacation plan. I started to realize that every time I wanted to go anywhere I was spending complete work days trying to get the best deal. I wasn’t getting anything done during the day, and I would have work at night to finish my job. How much money was I saving doing that? I decided to try using a travel agent. I called a local travel agency and spoke with one of their agents, Janet. I told her where I wanted to go, about how much I wanted to spend, and gave her a few travel dates. Most of the travel packages included a chain hotel; however I like to stay in small inns or a Bed and Breakfast with historic charm. I sent an email to Janet with a link of the historic area I was interested in, including some of the local places to stay. After that, she did the rest. She booked a flight, car rental, and reserved a room at one of the small hotels in old town Key West – all within my budget.
A few days later I received our tickets and itinerary in the mail, and in the beginning of August we were off to Key West. Everything went as planned, we were able to use the airport rapid check in, our car was waiting for us in Miami, and the hotel was great – in fact, the hotel manager was a local who gave us personal treatment and hooked us up with other locals for little known private tours and restaurants.
Since we’ve been back I am already dreaming up my next vacation – and you can bet I will be using a local travel agent – and next time you travel you should too. After all, what is your time worth to you? For a small service fee of only $40, she spent her time doing her job which, more importantly, allowed me to spend my time doing mine.
Allison can be reached at email@example.com.