Skyrocketing fuel costs have picked the pockets of even the most thrifty traveling golfers. Airfare, car rentals and greens fees have all gone up. Does that mean it’s time to clip your wings and play your local muni forever? Don’t be silly — we’ve got you covered! You just need to pinch some different pennies. We asked several travel experts for advice on how to conserve coin, and they weighed in on everything from cell phones to luggage weight to plucking your cash from a foreign ATM.
Weigh in before you checkin
Learn the luggage limits of the airline you’re using. Some have a 50 lb. per bag limit and assess a surcharge for anything higher.
If you don’t listen: At Delta Airlines, any bag that weighs between 51-99 pounds will be docked an extra $50. Anything 100 pounds and over will have to be sent as cargo. Other airlines have similar policies.
Don’t rage against the machine
Traveler’s checks provide protection and reimbursement, but ATMs are the easiest and least expensive (overall) way to get cash as you need it. And never, ever change money at the front desk of a hotel.
If you don’t listen: Tom Meyers, editor of EuroCheapo.com, attests, “You’ll get the highest transaction fees and the worst exchange rates.”
Forget room service
Never pick up a hotel phone to call home. If you don’t want to use a cell phone, get a prepaid calling card and use a pay phone.
If you don’t listen: The Phoenician hotel in Scottsdale says that AT&T slaps you with a connection charge of $25 right off the bat. Then the hotel imposes a 130 percent surcharge. Other hotels do likewise.
Pump it up
The prepaid gas option is rarely a good deal when renting a car. And make sure to return your car with a full tank of gas.
If you don’t listen: For a full-size car from Avis in Atlanta, prepaying means you pay for an entire 18-gallon tank. If you’re going to drive less (and you very well might), then you’ll lose money.
Ask Travelin’ Joe
A group of us from the Great White North heads South each fall for a combined NFL/golf trip. The Seahawks are in Kansas City on Oct. 29. Is the last week of October going to be good for golf in KC? Can you suggest some courses?
-Peter Wedlake, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Your Eskimo blood will help. The good news is that the average high is 61 degrees. That’s sweater weather for most, but you guys will probably feel like going shirtless! The bad news: it’s been known to snow in Kansas City in late October. But if you don’t see snow, play Tiffany Greens, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. design, followed by Shoal Creek and Swope Park, a value-priced muni with an A.W. Tillinghast pedigree.
I’ll be visiting my parents in Tallahassee, Fla., for a week. Are there any nice tracks there or in southwest Georgia?
-R. Smith, Boynton Beach, Fla.
October in Tallahassee means Florida State football, so local courses will be empty on Saturday afternoons. Don’t miss the Seminoles’ home course, SouthWood, a Gene Bates/Fred Couples design. It’s the best public course in Tallahassee. Across the border, go with Kinderlou Forest in Valdosta, a Davis Love III track that stretches through hardwoods and ravines.
Joe Passov has played more than 1,100 courses in 21 countries. If you need travel directions, zip him an e-mail at [email protected].