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Any vacation I am on, I feel like I'm getting ripped off. Even when I buy a yogurt, it's an awful feeling. $1.50 for Chobani. It's 89¢ in Rochester, at Shmuli’s local bodega, with a coupon. The only bodega I know with coupons.
Everything I did on vacation, I know I got ripped off. When I can’t find a supermarket or a mega-store, I know I got ripped off. When I see a shot glass with the name of the place I am visiting, I got ripped off. When I buy a shirt for kids, and it's not at Marshalls, I got ripped off. When there are fees, I got ripped off.
Here's what I spent my money on in Florida. I hope this prepares you for the shock of having to pay for stuff when you leave your home. If you are bringing the family, good luck. They’ll get you on family fees.
Expenses you didn't even think were a thing. Stuff that makes no sense, you're paying for that on vacation. Tips for people you never even saw. Tips for the guy who said hello and held the door, that you didn't even know worked there. They're called fees.
The word 'fees' is vague, so you can't complain when they charge you. If you knew they were charging for the extra key to the room you are paying for already, you would go crazy. Fees means 'anything we want to charge you for.' If they wrote down that you had to pay for the paper towels, you would protest it. So, they call it 'fees.'
I question tips for people who did me a favor. In Florida, I have to tip the righteous Tzadiks that are doing me favors from inside the kitchen. I never even met them. It's a fee.
They know you're on vacation in Florida and they're going to get you on fees. It's a category of billing, called vacation fees. Fees for smiling people.
Florida got me on something they called a resort fee. A resort fee?! A forty dollar a night hotel resort fee. Even the motel got me on a resort fee. No motel has ever been considered a resort. By calling yourself a motel, you are making it clear to your customers that you are keeping the resort people away. Before Florida, I never met anyone that had the gall to tell me I was staying at a tropical paradise motel.
They were shocked when I explained to them, 'An umbrella doesn't make you a resort.' They made it clear that there was a chair too. They said 'the chair is for lounging. Resort.'
One 'resort,' I had to pay a condo fee. These people are renting to me by the night, and they haven't covered their monthly expenses. They're depending on me for their bills. I had to pay for maintenance, gas and electric, a plumbing issue, an extra layer of drywall to keep out the noise from the guy next door, parking in my resort, a Tropicana out of the vending machine, and the resort fee. The resort didn't even offer orange juice.
Yes. I was disturbed to have to pay for parking and my juice at the motel resort.
Car Rental Places Make It Worse
With the extra fees, I feel like I went and got my car fixed. They have fees for driving it, using the road. It's the local road and I've got to get a pass to use it. There's a gas fee, a usage fee, a friend fee. I'm guessing that's the rental guy. He's my new friend.
If I have insurance, why do I have to pay for insurance?! How did car rental guy still charge me for insurance? Those are questions the rabbis didn't discuss in the Talmud, as they are too complicated.
I don't know how I ended up paying car insurance. I had car insurance and he still got me on car insurance. It must be called vacation insurance. Car vacation insurance. I felt like I was at the mechanic. That's how ripped off I felt. These guys are car mechanics that got into the hospitality business.
And then I have to take pictures and video the car, to not get charged more for dust hitting the car. That's another fee. It's called a speck fee. Half of my vacation is spent checking the car. I ended up parking it and leaving it, just in case there were extra fees for using it. Wait. Parking is another fee.
The Car Rental Guy Works With The Hotel
When you rent the room on Booking.com, they don’t tell you you're going to get screwed over with parking. I couldn't afford that after the car rental fees.
Don't tell me to use Uber. I don't need a random local guy ripping me off. I like a company involved in the fraud. I like it corporate.
I drove around all of South Florida. Not one free parking spot.
Point: Vacation is very frustrating. I definitely end up blaming the guy who has no say, who is just charging me.
I'm Not Good at Tipping for an Umbrella
I thought I paid. Thinking that you've finished paying makes vacation very uncomfortable for everybody else. You pay, and then you have to pay more, and then they tax that too. And then there are fees.
I didn't realize I had to tip too. After $300 a day per person, I thought we had paid. That was Disney World right there. Uncomfortable. You have to be ready for the $300 and fees, and tips. You can't expect for somebody to help you for free.
Next time somebody does me a favor in Florida, I am not saying 'thank you.' I am just going to give them money. That's appreciated.
Got to Eat at Restaurants
If I'm not broke yet, I have to eat. It’s either the restaurant or the mini mart. The problem is they don’t have tables at the mini mart, and the kids will remember eating at a mini mart. Their friends will remember it too, when they share what they did for vacation.
Third grade teachers are fools. Who has the kids sharing their intimate family stuff? Make sure they did a decent vacation before asking them to share it with the class. Let the ones that went skiing in Colorado share it.
I Have to Eat Kosher
That's another two thousand dollars. That's the kosher fee.
Families Belong at Home - Not on Vacation
Dad is going to get mad. Every dad is angry on vacation, because they have to pay. Family vacations cost, and they go bad because mom and dad are spending a lot of money. When they see the kids not smiling, that's anger fodder.
I heard a dad at the Motel Resort yelling, ‘We’re going to have a good time. We're going to have good family times.’ You never have a good time when dad says you’re going to have a good time. ‘We’re going to smile. Everybody is going to smile.' He demanded smiles. 'I invested a lot of money on family time. Smile!!! I just got a resort fee, because they gave us towels. It's a motel! It is not a resort! And no more Greek yogurt. I can't afford yogurt for everybody. You think I'm made of tips…Sorry, honey. I thought it was all good once we paid for the flight.' And then dad gets hit with another fee for having a license and having to park. And when they saw the kids, they charged them a family fee having them.
Knowing how much dad spent, I was happier as a single man, only having to work overtime for the next half year.
What I Learned About My Vacation Money
I might have enough money to vacation in Toronto. They don't have resort fees in Toronto. They tried getting people on the umbrellas concept, but that didn't sell in subzero temperatures. They couldn't argue with the fact there was no sun. They tried getting me to tip once, but I just stayed in the cold and the bellhop ran back inside.
Thank Gd, I have a home. I'm going to enjoy my winter there. I already covered maintenance. Bills are paid. There are no extra fees.
Next time I travel outside of city limits, I am planning in advance. I've already spoke to my boss about a 401k.
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I was going to do Kaparos before Yom Kippur, but I chickened out.
You get it? Kaparos is the tradition of placing your sins on something else, the day before Yom Kippur, traditionally a chicken, and waiving it. He chickened out of the chicken. He might've done it with money in the end. But that would still be without a chicken.
Designated stroller parking area. Something every shul needs, so I can get through the entrance on Yom Kippur... Truth is they should have stroller parking all the time. The entrance is always blocked.
Problem: Merv and Bernie will end up parking there. They already take the disabled parking spots and walk just fine. When it comes to parking, every member of our congregation is disabled.
Side Note: Figured out why so many kids come to shul on Yom Kippur. Because they get to eat in shul on Yom Kippur.