THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Jill Adams Mancivalano organizes the Vermont Retreat at her farm, and the fiber is the kind provided by angora goats.
Jill Adams Mancivalano organizes the Vermont Retreat at her farm, and the fiber is the kind provided by angora goats. (Adams Family Farm)
Real Deals

Fine print: unappetizing but essential

Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / October 30, 2005

Mr. Z, as we'll call him, was enjoying his vacation immensely until his cellphone rang. He learned that a relative had died, which meant he would have to cut his trip short and head home. Fortunately, or so he thought, the travel insurance policy covered trip interruption and he would get some money back.

Oh, no, he wouldn't. The level of insurance he bought provided for trip interruption, but only if something happened to the traveler or his companion. If he had bought the next level of coverage, he would have been insured against the death of the relative.

Mrs. Y was thrilled to find a four-night trip to Florence, complete with flights and a hotel, for just $399. Imagine her surprise, then, when she discovered the bill added up to $899.

You see, she was traveling alone, which meant a single supplement of $150. She was flying from Boston, not New York, which cost $80 extra. She was flying on a weekend, which brought a $50 surcharge. Finally, she hadn't realized that air taxes, fees, and surcharges would add $245 to the bill.

Mr. X, on the other hand, was going to New York for a week and booked a hotel on the Internet for $252.50 a night. Why then, he wondered, was his seven-night bill not $1,767.50 but $2,037.47?

The answer, of course, was taxes and fees. Somewhere on the website, this sentence could be found: ''The charge [in his case, $269.97] covers any taxes and government fees applicable to the travel products you have purchased, and also includes a charge for our services."

Ms. W, unlike the others, had done her homework. She knew the cost of her warm-weather cruise would be higher than the advertised price because of port charges, tipping requirements, and various fees. Nonetheless, she wound up with a more startling surprise than any of the others: Because of impending bad weather, her ship would be visiting not a balmy island but New Brunswick! The material she got with the cruise specified that ports may be changed at the discretion of the captain, who would be acting for the safety of passengers.

The story gets worse because the woman lived in . . . yes, New Brunswick. (This actually happened, but such an event does not occur as frequently as the others.)

All of these people had one thing in common: They didn't read the fine print. Whether at a travel agency or on the Internet, when you sign off on a trip's terms and conditions, you are signing a contract. So even though reading the fine print -- all of it -- is one of a traveler's most tedious chores, it is worth the effort.

In our first example, had Mr. Z studied the rules carefully, he might have opted for a higher-cost policy but would have made his investment back because of the wider coverage. Mrs. Y and Mr. X probably would not have spent any less, but would have averted surprises, even brief ones. That is why, at the end of this column every week, we include a reminder about taxes and fees that could hike the cost of your trip.

As for Ms. W, maybe she would have reconsidered taking a cruise and maybe not. But if she had read the fine print, she might at least have packed a couple of sweaters.

Crafty getaway

The League of New Hampshire Craftsmen's first Open Studio Tour is scheduled throughout the state on Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 11-13, when craftspeople will be sharing their techniques and opening their studios and shops to the public. Many New Hampshire inns and bed-and-breakfasts have geared up for the event with varying plans and rates. One example is the package at the Rosewood Country Inn in Bradford, N.H., that includes two nights' accommodations, ''candlelight & crystal" breakfasts both mornings, complimentary Friday evening hors d'oeuvres, and an Open Studio Tour and Directory Guide. (Call 800-938-5273 or visit www.rosewoodcountryinn.com/specials.html.)

For links to other lodging places, as well as tour details and directions, visit www.nhcrafts.org.

Speaking of crafts

The second annual Vermont Fiber Retreat, Nov. 12-13 at the Adams Family Farm in West Dover, has nothing to do with your diet. Instead, it offers free workshops on topics such as spinning, felting, rug hooking, dyeing, and color theory. In addition, the retreat includes Vermont-style lunches and dinners. Several inns are nearby; their rates vary.

Call 802-464-3762 or visit www.adamsfamilyfarm.com; click on ''lodging" at the bottom of the page to find a list of inns.

Someone goes free

Many travel providers that specialize in tours will let you go free if you get a group to book their tours. For example, VBT Bicycling Vacations says that if you bring 10 or more friends and family members with you, you get one free trip. If 16 or more people join up, you earn 1 1/2 free trips.

For information about VBT and its tours, call group specialist Matt Powers at 800-245-3868, ext. 3314.

Around the world

If you have at least $54,995 and 111 nights to spare, you're in for quite a cruise. The Radisson Seven Seas Voyager sets sail from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 7, 2007, exploring 45 destinations in 26 countries on five continents and including 14 overnight stays in popular ports. The $54,995 figure is the starting price that includes a discount if booked at least 120 days before departure. Tips plus, wine, liquor, and soft drinks are included.

See a travel agent, call 800-285-1835, or visit www.rssc.com.

When not included, hotel taxes, airport fees, and port charges can add significantly to the price of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy; solo travelers will usually pay more. Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. RichardP. Carpenter can be reached atcarpenter@globe.com.

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