Money Monday: To Vacate or Staycate? That is The Question.

The clocks have been changed to spring forward, and Day Light saving time is now in effect, which means that Spring Season and vacations are not far away. We have all been locked up or locked down for at least two years and can’t wait to enjoy some of our lost pre-Covid-19 lifestyles. However, with a war in progress, supply chain, and inflation dominating the economy, are you planning a vacation or a staycation, and what is your strategy?

Cruises

While this travel industry sector suffered a significant decline during the pandemic, activity seems quite robust for this year. The best time to book a cruise is generally between January and March. This is the period the cruise industry refers to as wave season. During these months, you can find travel packages with benefits, deals onboard, or discounted bookings. Most cruise lines require their staff to be vaccinated during the height of the pandemic, but you may want to discuss the safety protocols when booking a reservation. Now is the best time to get a deal.

Air Travel

Perhaps the first decision point in air travel from my perspective is whether you should book directly with the airline carrier or through a third party? Rule one! Anytime you book with a third party and not the travel provider, be prepared for a struggle between the parties when it comes to you getting your refund. Booking with a third party automatically provides an opportunity for the travel provider and the third party to defer to each other when it comes to getting your refund, not to mention canceling and rebooking. Pack lots of patience if you exercise this option. Further, if you book through a third party and for some reason the trip has to be rebooked, you may have to do so through the airline carrier directly, who will charge a rebooking fee of sometimes $50.00 per ticket. The question is, is this cost part of your travel vacation budget?

The ticket refund conundrum you may find yourself in between you, the third party, and the airline carrier really should not exist. What does the law say? Regardless of where you purchase your airline ticket, U.S. airlines are legally required to provide you a refund if your flight has been canceled or subject to a significant change or delay, as stated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. For those curious about what subject to a substantial change or delay means, I recommend 14 CFR (Code of Federal Regulation) Section 259.8 for bedtime reading. The point is, you are most likely entitled to a refund but read the fine print and know the third party’s policy. It could save you money and headaches.

Traveling by air also means deciding on travel insurance. Before Covid-19, the standard insurance policy may have been adequate. But since then, the most common form of travel insurance policy upgrade used is “cancel for any reason” (CFAR). These travel insurance options provide more protection than the standard airline insurance policy but cost more. In some cases, a few hundred dollars or more in additional fees. Again, can you budget handle such cost?

Before you tap that credit card and go over your budget, I should let you know that CFAR doesn’t really mean CFAR! The facts are that insurers of the CFAR policy will want you, the policyholder, to make a claim against the airline carrier for reimbursement before even providing any assistance. So after spending a few hundred bucks on upgrading to CFAR insurance, it turns out that the standard airline policy offers all the protection you might need. Now, if that seems crazy, read this! Many CFAR insurance policies contain the following exclusionary language: “This Cancel for Any Reason benefit does not cover the failure of the travel supplier (airline) to provide the bargained-for travel arrangements. Really! Maybe it’s me, but it sounds like, “you get what you pay for”! Please read the fine print, know the price and decide whether the CFAR insurance policy is worth it and affordable. It’s one thing to travel domestically but another for international flights and your destination. Make wise financial choices!

Car Rentals

If you plan to use a rental vehicle and have not made a reservation, do it now or as early as possible. Between 2020 and 2021, travelers who rented cars from airports paid an estimated 60% increase in rates. If you need help finding rentals, try, for example, using sites like. You can also try Turo, a car-sharing service located throughout most of the country. However, with Turo, you will not use your personal vehicle insurance since most insurance companies only cover ac-credited car rental companies. Turo’s insurance plans could add 15% or more to the rental cost.

Well, if after reading this Money Monday, a staycation seems like your best option given gas prices and inflation, remember the old adage, there’s no place like home!
Let’s talk Money Monday on the Zoom Conversation on March 28, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. Sign up at: https://bit.ly/TTCM_Register

WHAT’S UP!

Today’s what’s is about a reduction in your gas bill. While inflation and the war in Ukraine are driving up gas prices, help is on the way. At least 16 states are now considering or are about to enact legislation to suspend or reduce the state gas tax bill. The average state gas tax amount included in the cost of your last fill-up was twenty-eight cents. While the average price for a gallon of gas last week was $4.25, the bright side is that if a suspended state gas tax were in effect, you would have been paying less than four dollars a gallon. In some states like Maryland, the gas sales tax is .37 cents. Check your state for the reduction and take action if necessary to bring it into effect where you live. Let’s get some money back in your pocket. And that’s what’s up! Let’s talk Money Monday fundamentals on the Zoom Conversation on March 28, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. Sign up at: https://bit.ly/TTCM_Register

Ruthven R. Phillip, Esq., is a tax attorney, Stewardship and Philanthropy Ministry Assistant, and CEO of Give2Getrich, LLC. Give2Get Rich, LLC 2022. All Rights Reserved. Any distribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited.

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