When paying more money is the most frugal option

My Hello Kitty-branded ICOCA card. This IC card works as a public transportation card and as electronic money in stores across Japan.
My Hello Kitty-branded ICOCA card. This IC card works as a public transportation card and as electronic money in stores across Japan.

I am back from my epic Asia trip, with the jet lag, farmer’s tan, and ample waistline to prove it. Most of the trip went according to plan, but there were some dramatic changes right at the beginning.

Just after landing in Japan, I learned that a typhoon was threatening the next two flights on my itinerary. The hostel I had booked in Okinawa even emailed saying that they would waive their change fees for the night that I had booked. This was not good news.

Should I call right then to rebook myself away from the path of the typhoon, or should I wait until the typhoon actually hit so that the airlines could accomodate me for free?

I ended up spending about an hour that night on Skype with a call center in Canada and paying change fees and new taxes on one of my airline award tickets. That, I believe, was the more frugal choice, though I could have avoided paying a dime!

My logic was this: do I really want to spend the first few days of my vacation worrying about whether or not I could make the next two flights? Not particularly. I was there to enjoy myself, and enjoy myself I would. Furthermore, if I decided to wait it out, I might have had to stay in the Osaka area on my own dime as the airlines sorted things out. That would definitely have cost me more money than I had planned to spend. In the end, the cost of the change fees was a drop in the bucket compared to the psychological cost of stressing out over this and the potential financial cost of waiting to get on the next flight out.

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