I’M NO Indiana Jones. As a family travel
writer, my rough moments lean more
toward Stephen King. After a frightening
trip mishap (maybe plural), I invested in
two relationships that keep me feeling safe
and prepared for any (likely) snafu when far
The first is Kyle the minivan whisperer
(my mechanic). The second is my Costco
Take last summer. As we were leaving one
Virginia hotel and driving to another, one of
my prescription eyeglass lenses escaped
its frame and landed on my van floor. One-eyed, I touched “Go” on my GPS and headed
for the Costco in Richmond, Virginia. The
optical pro reattached my lens and cleaned
my glasses with a smile. Charge? Nothing.
My ;;-year-old sons, traveling with me,
high-fived at the impromptu Costco trip—
largely because they spell Costco P-I-Z-Z-A.
Me: ;; Stephen King prelude: ;.
Another trip: I forgot important medication. The Washington, D.C., Costco pharmacy contacted my doctor; crisis over. On
the same trip, the kids needed swim goggles.
Me? I needed a bigger bathing suit (
fren-emy: tuxedo chocolate mousse cake).
These were aha moments. Costco saves
money—and my sanity—in myriad ways
when I travel.
Here are just a few examples of how
Costco helps members on the move.
Classier car travel
When working solo, I wave buh-bye to
my gross minivan (because: kids) and use
Costco to score savings on a sparkling clean
“Costco has a super easy way of securing
a rental,” says Casey Livingston, Costco
Travel rental car buyer. “A member goes to
Costco.com, clicks ‘Travel’ and then ‘Rental
Cars,’ puts in the particulars for their rental
car needs and then clicks ‘Find My Car.’
The ‘Low Price Finder’ feature shows four
rental car companies and many car sizes—
with prices—on one page, allowing members to price-compare at a glance.”
Whether I’m driving a rental or my
Starburst-encrusted minivan (riding on
Costco tires), I always program my GPS with
every Costco gas station along my route to
score those lovely, rock-bottom gas prices.
Feeling smug, I catch up with Tim
Hurlocker, a Costco gas guru, and ask,
“Could I be the first to come up with this
brilliant hack?” “Oh, no, people do it all the
time,” says Hurlocker, whose actual title is
director of fuel quality and compliance.
“Members drive from Canada on I-; to
Mexico, stopping [for fuel] only at Costco
warehouses with gas along the way. Probably
people do the same on various routes
throughout the U.S.”
Hurlocker’s main emphasis? “Costco
gas value is unsurpassed. Members can’t see
the gas, so they don’t likely realize how high
the quality is.” He encourages members to
costco.com/gasoline.html and click on
“Ask the Fuel Expert” to read Q&As. Need
more info? Email Tim at kirklandsignature
Fueling the family
Saving on gas and rental cars when
traveling is huge, but keeping the family
fed without decimating the budget is no
easy feat. Yet one stop at Costco and it’s
pizza for the boys (;;.;;) and a luxury meal
for me. I pick up a ;;-pack of Honeycrisp
apples, a container of grapes, French bread,
Brie and those little cups of guacamole.
The cold items go into my room’s mini-fridge and a bottle of chardonnay sits in the
ice bucket. (If I’m on my own, it’s dinner in
the bathtub, friends.) Later the boys inhale
Costco’s tuxedo chocolate mousse cake; I
fork a small bite (it’s a steal versus the cost
per slice in any restaurant).
Stocking up the vacation condo
Thinking about how I use Costco on
trips, I ask a friend whether she’d used
Costco on her Maui vacation. “Duh! Costco
is smack next to the Maui airport!” says
Costco member Lisa Lanners of Walnut
Creek, California. “Lonnie and I entered
our condo with a Costco haul: a case of
Josh Irvine, the
author’s son, in
Freelance writer Wendy
Irvine ;lls this month’s
consumer reporter slot
with this behind-the-scenes
look at Costco programs.
Email questions about this
article to buyingsmart@
Costco a go-go
How a Costco membership keeps
me and my family moving