Readers' travel tips: Beware the exorbitant amount hotels charge for pre-authorisation

It can take days for some hotel pre-authorisations to drop off your card. Photo: iStock

It can take days for some hotel pre-authorisations to drop off your card. Photo: iStock

CARD SHARPS

Staying recently at the Sheraton Kona, Hawaii, (and not getting the Oceanfront room booked 10 months earlier – but that is another story) I discovered  that the resort had taken a pre-authorisation of more than $3100 – not once, but twice from my card.

Once you are gone, they continue to take amounts, when the stay was much less than this in cost. It took eight days for some of the pre-authorisations to drop off.

My husband had to pay with his card on departure as they had maxed mine out and it was declined though I had no idea why. Upon arrival home, I found they have done the same thing to his card.

Beware.

Diane McAskill, Ventnor, VIC

ROAD LESS TRAVELLED

A couple of years ago, touring the American desert south-west, I, by chance, discovered the lightly travelled Utah State Route 12. It’s a drive as good, if not better, than California’s Highway 1.

Wonderfully smooth, SR12 passes through a greater variety of astounding geology and constantly changing scenery than I have ever encountered, following beautiful, small, fast rivers and crossing two extraordinary mountain passes.

We had to traverse SR12 in one afternoon, due to pre-booked reservations at Bryce Canyon, but it deserves at least two full days.

David Hancocks, Carlton, VIC

CUBAN SHUFFLE

If going to Cuba, take euros, Visa, MasterCard and patience.  While waiting in line at the bank with countless other hapless tourists, we learnt three lessons the hard way.

One: you cannot exchange Australian dollars for Cuban pesos but they will take euros, pounds and even US dollars. Two: the eftpos system in an entire city can drop out unexpectedly for days at a time. Three, you won’t know if your card works until you get there.

Learn from our mistakes or you might find yourself living on white bread and lemonade for your last two days in this Caribbean paradise.

Andrew Stocks, Lane Cove, NSW

VALID ARGUMENT

Libby Carroll wrote about being fined €30 for not having validated her rail ticket in Italy, and made it sound like some sort of scam.

Self-validation of travel tickets is par for the course across most of Europe, as the whole process relies on an honesty system.

Ticket inspectors board trains at random, rather than having turnstiles and  collectors at individual stations.

Since half the travellers on public transport are probably foreign tourists, what are they meant to do with those who have  not obeyed the rules? Fine only the locals?

Ross MacPherson, Seaforth, NSW

NO FARE GO

Parts of Croatia have deservedly high reputations (Dubrovnik, Split, Plitvice Lakes) and matching tourist charges, but highlights of a recent trip included feature-packed Montenegro (Kotor is a great base, and Ostrog Monastery a must-see) and multicultural Sarajevo.

But one unfortunate lowlight of this eastern Europe trip was the taxis in Budapest, Hungary. Scams include taking indirect routes, night-time metering in daylight and bogus zones.

Authorities appear unwilling to act on complicit taxi companies so use public transport or enjoy walking.

Peter Kempster, Brighton, VIC

SOUTH PAUSE

My wife, adult daughter and I will be travelling to South America in the new year on our way to the Galapagos and Machu Picchu, with two-day stopovers in Lima, Peru, and Santiago, Chile.

What would your readers recommend we do on each of these stopovers? We like new and old architecture, art museums, good food and wine.

Geoffrey Mould, Brighton, VIC

HAVE POUCH, NO SLOUCH

We need to make life extra difficult for pickpockets on our travels. I use the low-cost, over-the-head, under-the-clothes security pouch. It holds my passport, cash, credit cards, tickets and more.

In Lisbon, Portugal, on a subway escalator a thief took a little coin pouch from my backpack. But, concealed beneath my clothes out of the pickpocket’s reach, were all of my valuables – and all safe!

Brian Noad, Surry Hills, NSW

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