Rants from the road: So many ways to lose money while saving

There are a lot of things I could be doing, sitting here this third morning of business travel in my $229/plus tax/night room at the Marriott Providence Downtown.

I could look out the window at my view of the Mobil Station with the majestic rise of the highway just beyond. I could be reading about "Weekend airport woes" in my complimentary copy of USA Today (and wondering how this particular newspaper has wrapped up the hotel market). I could, as I drink my Gourmet Bean coffee from its filter pack, splashed with two Mini Moo's of Half & Half, review my Express Checkout "Guest Folio."

If I was more energetic, I could compare and contrast my Hilton Garden Inn, Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts and Marriott Express Check-Outs printouts. If I pay attention, I will note that at the Hilton Garden Inn I had a "Zip-Out Check-Out."

I could observe that my room service dinner at the Crowne Plaza came to $29, and that although the service and gratuity charge was a good part of that total, the line for gratuity was pointedly left blank. Not so at the Marriot where the bill very clearly states that the 20% service charge is included. I tipped the young man anyway, but it's nice not to feel pressured.

What I am actually inclined to do though is to find out how many Priority Club points I have from the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels. Should I use my points to stay overnight at the airport so that I can "Park and Fly" before my 6 a.m. vacation flight to Arizona? Would it be better to redeem my free week at the "Airport Valet" or should I save that credit for a free oil change or "mini-detail"?

So many decisions, so many terms, so many different ways that your money can trickle away. Imagine if you weren't fluent in English.

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