Q: I recently went on an incredible trip to the Galapagos with Intrepid. I had a fantastic time and loved the staff. The trip was quite expensive at over $2,500 for six days. However, I was willing to pay the price because I knew trips there are fairly expensive, and I was paying for a full crew onboard a ship and almost all of my meals during those days.
While I was there, though, I found out one of my fellow travelers paid about $1,700 for his tour, or almost a thousand dollars less than I did. I also found out a few other travelers who were on a longer 10-day tour (four-day extension on top of the tour we shared) paid just over $2,000 for their tours.
While I loved everything I was able to see and experience, I am fairly upset about how much more I had to pay compared with other people who traveled with me. The ship we were on was leased by Intrepid, and everyone who paid less than I did for the trip booked through a third-party company.
This makes me never want to book another tour with the company if I can have the exact same experience with their staff for a much lower price. That aside, is there anything I can do? I just filled out the feedback form from the trip and included these complaints. What else can I do other than chalk it up to lessons learned?
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A: Welcome to the world of dynamic pricing. One price for you, another price for someone else. It’s unfair, yes, but it’s also an industry standard. You could appeal to the company, and I think you’re going about it the right way, through the feedback form. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, please come back and ask me.
If I buy a “nonrefundable” plane ticket and for whatever reason am not able to travel as planned do I completely forfeit the value of the ticket? Or am I able to recoup any of that value if I call the airline to let them know I will not be flying on the date planned?
By “nonrefundable” most airlines mean it can be changed with a $200 change fee and any fare differential. But that’s changing. Delta just introduced a totally nonrefundable fare and other airlines are considering it. US Airways tried a nonrefundable fare a few years ago, but withdrew it after passengers protested.
My niece is planning a college visit to St. Augustine, Fla., as well as a stay in Ponte Vedra Beach, just outside of Jacksonville. Can you provide any recommendations of restaurants or sights not to miss?
I recently visited both spots. Ponte Vedra Beach is mostly residential — the beach is the big draw. We had a fun meal at Caps on the Water, located between Ponte Vedra and St. Augustine. Palm Valley Fish Camp also has a good rep. St. Augustine is a wonderful, easy-to-walk historic city with lots of shops, sights and restaurants. Had a great meal at Columbia (sangria is great).
I was wondering if the cost of the premium for travel insurance decreases when one purchases a policy closer to the date of the travel. It seems to me that the exposure of the insurer to liability lessens as there is a shorter period for something to go wrong (assuming there is no pre-existing condition.)
I’ve priced insurance at various intervals to the trip and have found little if any price differences. I’m sure that it can change based on the underwriter and state, but the standard advice on insurance is to buy it when you book your trip. I haven’t heard of people saving money — or losing money — by waiting.
Excerpted from a weekly online live chat hosted by The Washington Post Travel section editors and writers.