It was now March 10, 2010. We were still two months away from leaving, and we had already spent $2,125.
After reserving the rooms in London and Bath, we made a decision to purchase English Heritage Overseas Visitor Passes. The passes would grant us admission to over a hundred sites, Stonehenge and Tintagel Castle among them. The passes were $69 for the two of us, and were good for fourteen days from the day we first used them. We planned to do that at Stonehenge, about five days into the trip, so the passes would be good until our first full day in London. We had arranged for a tour to Stonehenge already, but that didn’t include the cost of admission. The roughly $25 entry to Stonehenge, and the $16 admission to Tintagel for the two of us, would be free with the Overseas Visitor passes. If we saw just a few more of the English Heritage sites we should cross the $69 threshold and start saving money on admissions.
Now that we knew we were renting a car, I also got an International Driver’s License at AAA. It was $23, and we knew it was not strictly necessary, but we thought, “better safe than sorry.” An International license simply has a picture of you and states that you have a valid driver’s license in your home country. Maybe it’s just to tell the local constabulary that you’re not from around there, and if you’re driving oddly they should take that into consideration. At the same time, we asked about trip insurance, and AAA directed us to a company called Access America (now called Allianz Travel Insurance). About a week later, we bought a policy from them that would cover us in case our trip got cancelled or delayed, or we had various problems once we were there (another $225). We also asked our insurance agent (just on the off chance) if our auto insurance would cover us while we were there, but of course it didn’t. Minay and I talked about it, and decided again, “better safe than sorry,” and did some searches for car insurance for travelers. There were several available, but we chose a company called Insurance 4 Car Hire. They sold us a one-year policy, good throughout the UK and Europe (in case we decided on the spur of the moment to take the Chunnel to France). That cost us $84. The bills were piling up, but we weren’t done yet.
In London, many of the sights we wanted to see would be free (museums in particular), but we knew others would have an admission charge, and transportation could be costly. We needed to be sure we would have enough money available for everything, but we didn’t want to carry too much cash with us (flashing a lot of cash could tempt thieves). We could probably pay for a lot of it with credit cards, of course, but I had already noticed that we had been charged a “foreign transaction fee” by one of our credit cards ($11) for a charge I had made in the past few weeks (most likely one or both of the rooms). Using credit cards too much would be the same as giving away money needlessly.
We did buy several more things (London Passes, some incidentals, and another lodging reservation) before we left, but I’ll save them for another post. We were now over $2,500 in expenditures. Getting closer to leaving, but not there yet. Was it a waste? Keep reading.
Do you have any travel expense stories to tell? Please share. Enquiring minds want to …well, you know, know.