Sticker Shock

When my wife and I were first married (17 years ago), she was surprised that I did not look at prices in the supermarket, at Target or at Walmart.  My philosophy had always been “if you want it, buy it” and, as for the price, “it is what it is.”  Should I deny myself a mass produced cherry pie just because it costs six dollars?  I figured that I had no control over prices, so why should I be concerned about them?  If I refused to buy an item due to my objection that the price was too high, would that change anything?  Would I teach the store a lesson (“So there!  Take that!”) so that, on my next visit, the price would be slashed?  I think not.

Things have changed a bit for me in the past couple of decades.  I do look at prices now, although they confuse me.  I rarely do any shopping without my wife.  This is probably a good thing because I have no clue whether something is expensive or not.

Until now.

In the course of planning a trip to New York, we have been checking hotel prices with the goal of making a reservation.  Now, as a charter member of the Motel 6 and Red Roof Inn club, even I can tell you that $400 to $500 or more a night is expensive.

Let’s be real about this:  All I am looking for is a place to lay my head and take a hot shower.  The word “amenities” doesn’t mean anything to me.  I simply am not looking for anything fancy.  If that’s the case, I’m told, then don’t go to New York.  It’s all about location.  Just being in Manhattan is itself “fancy.”

Indeed, we have been able to find (somewhat) reasonable prices out in the suburbs.  We considered taking advantage of that fact until we realized that it would mean not only paying for gas and fighting the bridge and tunnel commuters to get into and out of the city every day of our visit, but also paying for a parking garage in Manhattan ($50 a day!) and then paying taxicab fares to get to the attractions we’d like to see.  When you add it all up, it would be almost as much as staying in the city.

Sure, we could save some money by taking the subway or staying at a fleabag (some of which are notorious for bedbugs).  But that’s not what we’re looking for in a vacation.

We were originally thinking of spending five days in Manhattan.  With the prohibitive cost, however, we settled on four days.  Then we began figuring out how we can do most of what we hope to accomplish in three days.  And lately, we’ve been considering paring it down to just two days.

After all, we’re already going to be spending a lot of money driving cross-country to get to New York, then driving back to California.  True, we’ll see a lot of our great nation on the way, but our hotel costs for the entire 6,000 mile round trip will be about the same as the cost of staying just three nights in Manhattan.  Even a dunderhead like myself knows that this is way too expensive for the likes of us.

I realize that the costs of maintaining a hotel in Manhattan are exorbitant and that these costs have to be passed on to the consumer.  I am also aware that Manhattan hotels increase their profits by raising prices for visitors and businessmen who want to stay in a convenient location.  Something tells me that I should “just say no” and let the New York hotels make their money off the suckers who are willing to shell out hundreds of dollars per night.

But then we wouldn’t be able to stay in New York.  Perhaps we should just go somewhere else.  Prices are more reasonable almost every other place you can think of, so why New York?  Because there’s no place like it.  It is this very uniqueness that leads tens of thousands of travelers to the Big Apple every year, prices be damned.

Perhaps my former way of thinking was the right one after all.  If you want it, buy it.  Take out your credit card and don’t think about the price.

Just try not to wince when the Visa bill comes in.



One thought on “Sticker Shock

  1. Pingback: Russian Hotel Roulette | A Map of California

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