Mostly our subscribers say lovely things about us, but occasionally we get queries about those deals we publish that don’t include hold baggage and transfers in the headline price. Surely when you include these things -- goes the inquiry -- the deal is no longer the deal it’s pretending to be and is not nearly as attractive.
So, what’s the story? Are we playing bait and switch? Should we hang our heads in shame?
Well, we plead innocent. Travelzoo subscribers are bargain-hungry travellers; they like the chance to save money at every point of a trip. That’s why we include hold baggage and transfers only as optional extras -- because not everyone wants them.
Hang on, you might say. Isn’t this like an invitation to dinner without plates or cutlery? Aren’t a suitcase and hotel transport such crucial parts of a trip that charging extra for them is, in effect, dishonest? Here’s where, to take the case of baggage first, Vivienne Westwood’s advice – “if in doubt, overdress” – is increasingly passé. The modern trend is decidedly towards travelling light. Indeed, so keenly have the airlines followed the example of Ryanair and easyJet, that it’s harder and harder to find any carrier at all that includes hold baggage in its economy ticket price. The policy may feel a little forced (and one thing we don’t like about it is the growing and frankly fascistic insistence on taking one carry-on bag only – “You viz ze camera bag! Halt!”), but what it does do is allow you to save money to spend on interesting things at your destination.
But isn’t there a limit to “carry-on travel”? A little knapsack or wheelie suitcase might hold sufficient duds, frothing liquids and the odd airport novel for a mini break in Paris, but wouldn’t that leave you pretty smelly for a proper trip of a week or more? Well, I perceive a growing trend towards what you might call packing minimalism, even for breaks as long as these. When you realise how much money you can save with (if you’ll forgive me) stripped-down deals of the kind Travelzoo offers, it makes dollars and sense to pack sparingly and well.
What does that mean in practice? Well, watch this space for our hand-picked selection of top packing tips, but if you think just one pair of shoes, two pairs of bottoms (ie one pair of trousers or skirt for daily wear and one for a fancy night out) and daily shirts and smalls, you’re getting into the mindset.
My girlfriend and I adopted this policy on a recent week-long (Travelzoo, of course) trip to Florence. A big suitcase each would have cost us around an extra £100 – something that we thought would be much better spent on glorious Renaissance art and equally glorious wine in the abundant enotecas we soon came to love. And we were fine, even in this fashion-conscious city. Perhaps it felt a bit like rationing when we reached the last possible outfit combination on the final day, but my, what a pleasure it was not to have to haul a crate-load of sweaty laundry off to the big plane garage on our departure.
The same mentality applies to getting from the airport to the place where you’ll be resting your head every night. Thanks in part again to those penny-pinching airlines, we’re all, probably even your grandmum and dad, experienced travellers now. So do we really need to be ferried like a bunch of schoolkids to our hotel? Do a little research and catch a bus or train from the airport for a fraction of the price of an official transfer. (Even better, book a Travelzoo deal, where we indicate, wherever possible, the best routes between A and B.)
Hidden charges are one of the banes of modern travel. Avoiding them is one of the reasons Travelzoo exists. We will always state clearly whether a deal includes transfers and baggage in the headline price, just as we reveal (sometimes in a deal’s T&Cs – so read them) any taxes or charges involved. If a travel company refuses to let us disclose all the charges customers will face, we simply won’t publish the deal. Simple. We do all the boring research so you can get on and enjoy the trip.
Simon Busch is the publisher of the UK Top 20.