Thursday, August 26, 2010

California Dreamin' - A Room with a View...Still Looking

Calle Colon - Ajijic, Mexico
After four years living in a small Mexican village, I experienced a number of culture shocks when I returned to the United States.

I had many embarrassing conversations with complete strangers because I thought the friendly, “Hello, how are you?” comments were directed at me. It took me weeks to realize people were talking into their cell phones, not to me.

Then there was the time I met a friend at a restaurant located in a popular mall. A restaurant with valet parking. In a mall! Whatever happened to the idea that the mall was an ideal place to go because there was ample, free parking?

I've adjusted to most of the changes I've encountered, but the final shock still bothers me the most—having to pay for parking at motels and hotels. Since the hotel industry exists to serve the needs of a transient population that frequently arrives by car, adding a surcharge to the bill to accommodate the car is an insult.

But insults in the travel business seem widespread these days. I have to pay extra to take my clothes along with me on a flight, and I've often got to pay extra to house my car for the night at a hotel.

All these extra charges do severe damage to a tightwad traveler's budget. Since David and I are committed to making our California driving trip a frugal one, we've abandoned AirBnB accommodations; most of the offerings in San Francisco require paying a meter or a parking garage. We're going to look for rooms that will allow us, and our car, to rest easy for the night without any extra charges. It might not be easy, but we'll persevere and tell you how we made out in the next installment.

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