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The travel industry is complex and full of insider secrets.  Never before has it been faced with the challenges of today.  With the endless increase in fuel prices and the constant threat of terrorism the travel industry has been forced to make cuts and changes.  Any price hikes are invariably passed on to the consumer.

If the consumer is to be able to function affordably within this industry he must learn as much as possible of their policies, practices, procedures and even their vulnerabilities.  The savings will go to the educated and the persistent.

  1. Discount deals are found on the internet but they’re not always the best. Shop and compare. Some websites collect a volume discount fee which affects the price of your ticket.  Check the newspaper for travel specials especially in the Sunday travel section.
  2. Flying can still be cheaper (and faster) than driving even with soaring gas prices. This is particularly true of longer flights when you consider the cost of gas to drive, food and possibly hotels. Put a pencil to the numbers before you make a decision.
  3. Use alternate airports and save. Many large cities have two or even three airports. Some are cheaper to fly into and out of than others.  In smaller cities it may pay you to drive a few miles (even a hundred miles) to another city and utilize their airport.  This practice can save you hundreds of dollars.  The smaller airports are usually more user friendly and offer cheaper or even free parking.
  4. Two round-trip tickets can be cheaper than one. You just use the leg of the ticket you need, one going and one coming. This is called back to back ticketing and is frowned on by the airlines but is legal in most cases.  Check the legality of this method before using and of course the cost savings.
  5. Buyer beware. Where you book and buy your hotel room could determine the quality and location of the room you get. A hotel determines the room you receive based on what you paid. If you got a deep discount you could be placed in a less desirable location such as near the ice machine or elevator.  They would never admit this but to avoid the situation deal directly with the hotel’s website.
  6. Car rental insurance is usually unnecessary. Check before you travel to see if your present auto insurance has you covered. If you charge the rental to a credit card most companies cover you automatically.  Rental employees get a commission on insurance sold so beware of double coverage.
  7. Last minute deals on airlines and hotels can save you a bundle but you must be flexible. Empty seats or vacant rooms bring no revenue so it’s a win-win situation for both parties. Keep tabs on these by signing up for e newsletters or search the web.

Travel services today are rarely complimentary.  The more you know and the more you’re able to do for yourself the more you’ll save.

Cruise Lines Still Doling Out Hefty Discounts

Taking a cruise used to be only for the rich.  There were different classes for passengers and restricted areas depending on your class.  Cruise ships were few and accommodations adequate but barely comfortable.  You stayed with people in your class not allowed to mix and mingle on all decks with all passengers.

As demand for cruising increased, the supply of ships increased.  New ships were built, each one bigger and more luxurious than the last.  They’ve become floating hotels, resorts actually.  The best news is cruising has become, and remains, an affordable holiday despite the rising cost of fuel.  But, it’s up to you or a trusted travel agent to find the best deal available.

Book online with travel companies, buy directly from the cruise line of choice or enlist the services of a travel agent.  Try all and settle on the best deal for you.  With any booking option, book early and save ten to forty percent.

Money talks so pay in full when you make your reservation and save.  Or, if you’re flexible take a chance and cruise standby to save.  Standby passengers are usually notified if they made the list 2 to 3 weeks prior to departure.

Cabins mainly determine the cost of the cruise, depending on size and location.  Interior cabins are cheapest with no view; but unless you plan to spend a lot of time in the room this won’t matter.  Cabins with a window or a balcony are more expensive which could be worth the money if you’re sailing where scenery is abundant such as the Inside Passage.

Ask for discounts or special packages when you book.  Discounts are available for seniors 55 plus and if you’re a member of certain organizations like AAA or AARP.

You should be eligible for a discount if you’re sailing with a group and specials are often offered such as buy one get one free.  Sign up for newsletters to keep abreast of the latest deals.

Travel in the off-peak season and enjoy reduced rates.  For example, save by sailing the Caribbean the first week in December or January.  Alaskan cruises are cheaper in early May or late September.

Re-positioning cruises are a bargain if you like to spend most of your time at sea.  Generally, in the spring and fall, ships are moved from one part of the world to another depending on the sailing season.  The only way to get ships to another location is to sail them and it’s more cost efficient to have revenue paying passengers on board.

Loyalty pays.  The more you sail with a particular line the more discounts and perks you’re offered.  You usually have an opportunity to book again while on the current cruise at a discount.  Cruise officials know you’re having so much fun it’s hard to say no.

Cruses are all inclusive and designed for everyone regardless of age or mobility.  Food, lodging and entertainment are first quality.  The pampering is nice too.   If the water’s deep enough you can probably find a cruise anywhere in the world to beautiful and exotic ports of call. But to many, the cruise is the destination.

Don’t Scratch Your Family Vacation Just Yet

 With the continual rising costs of gas, food and the expense of living in general, families are forced to cut back just to afford the necessities.  One of the things being considered to scratch is the annual family vacation.  But, you’ve worked hard all year and the family needs a break and time to get away and bond.  Yet, it must be affordable.

A new word has been coined:  Staycation.  Many families are making their home the base for a stay at home vacation.  Do you really know what your hometown offers in the way of fun and adventure?

Call your local Chamber of Commerce or the Visitors and Tourists Bureau.  They can offer a myriad of ideas for things to do close to home, many of which are free or very reasonable.  There are special events, festivals, museums, parks and zoos, lakes and swimming pools.  You save money by eating and sleeping at home.

Consultants say to make this work treat it just like you’re on vacation in a new town. Include a couple of visits to a local fancy restaurant.  Mom’s on vacation too. You could also schedule a short day trip to a nearby attraction.

A camping trip is also a good inexpensive option and if you travel in off peak times such as October and March it’s less crowded and cheaper.  Pitch a tent, cook over a campfire and hike in the woods.  You’ll not only discover nature but yourselves.  Some family camps can be had for a thousand dollars a week for four, including meals, lodging and activities.

If you must leave town try to do the bookings yourself and dig deep for discount hotels.  Stay in a 2-star hotel instead of a 4.  You may have to bring your own toiletries but the savings would be worth it.  Many lower priced hotels offer a free breakfast.  You can eat hearty and skip lunch.

Sometimes the price of a suite or a condo is cheaper than renting two rooms if you have a large family.  Save money and enjoy the down time in a hotel pool, hot tub or health club.  Relax and stay healthy.  Take advantage of what’s already paid for.

An all-inclusive resort may be within your budget especially if it’s off season.  It’s hard to find a venue that doesn’t cater to families and for one price everything is included from meals, drinks and lodging.  Many are located on the beach with countless activities for all ages.  Big bargains are being found south of the border in Mexico if you’re willing to do some research.

Theme parks are also a good choice for families.  Once inside the park most everything (except food and drinks) is included.  This means free shows, rides and picnic areas.  You can usually stay several days at a theme park and never do the same thing twice.  Check out their package deals and save.

Determine your limits.  Study your destination and strive for the best value.  Plan with a carefree spirit and whether you opt for a staycation or vacation your family will love the adventure.

How to Save Money on Airfare as Prices Keep Rising

Flying is fun.  Well, maybe not as much fun as it used to be but it’s still exciting to board that big bird and jet to destinations beyond the horizon.  No doubt there are more hassles now with security and tickets cost more as airlines struggle to keep their heads above the clouds of rising costs.

Airlines are cutting back on giveaways and laying off personnel.  They’re also tacking on baggage fees and adding extra charges for atypical check through such as golf clubs and pets.  Children traveling alone now pay more because they have to be watched and cared for.  But, there are ways to fly smart and save if you’re creative.

Be flexible.  If you can fly any carrier, any time, and almost anywhere you’ll come out dollars ahead.  Don’t be choosy (assuming you have a choice) about which airline you fly.  Shop, compare and buy the cheapest ticket.  Airlines offer specials but check the restrictions and dates to fly.  Ask about taxes and fees that can inflate the base cost.

Fly off-peak days such as Saturday and Tuesday through Thursday.  Business travelers usually fill up the plane on the other days so don’t fly when they do.  Stay over a weekend if possible.  Don’t fly on a Monday or Friday.  That’s when people are either leaving or coming home.  Avoid flying on holidays for obvious reasons.

Buy your ticket in advance.  We’re talking two to four months in advance.  This gives the airline a chance to plan ahead on how many passengers they’ll have and how many to feed (if you’re lucky enough to get fed.)

Before you depart, check to see if there has been a reduction in the fare since you bought your ticket.  If so, call and ask if they’ll offer you a refund of the difference or a travel voucher for a later flight.

Depart before sunrise or after sunset and your savings will get brighter.  Sure you’d rather depart at 10AM perhaps, but get up a little earlier and catch the redeye that takes off at 3AM and pocket the savings.  Besides, you’ll get to your destination earlier.

Connecting flights with layovers are usually cheaper than direct flights.  Direct flights are more convenient and may get you there a little sooner but think of the fun of seeing new and different airports.  You may have a long enough layover to make a quick tour of the city.

Collect air miles especially if you’re a frequent flyer with various programs offered by the airline and credit card companies.  Some have partnership agreements allowing you a bigger choice on which airline to fly.

Keep track of your air miles with records and receipts as airlines have been known to lose miles.  And, remember you don’t have to just fly to build air miles.  Other purchases can work as well.

Pack efficiently and don’t check through luggage if possible.  Utilize your carry-ons and do without luxury items that take up space.  You must be decisive and make a few sacrifices but good deals are out there.  Flying is an adventure – enjoy it!

Untraditional Ways to Save on Travel Costs

Each year at vacation time most of us either drive or fly to a familiar tourist destination, stay in a tourist hotel, eat tourist food, do tourist activities and in one or two weeks return home feeling like a tourist.  There’s nothing wrong with this.  Millions do it every year.

But why not get off the beaten path of the madding crowd and experience something untraditional?  There are countless lands to explore and numerous ways to do it if we have the wandering spirit to search and learn.  And, most of these excursions are less expensive than the accustomed trip.

Swap your home with another family in another area.  This is particularly feasible if you live in a tourist destination.  Search on line and newspapers for people willing to do this.  Details are easily worked out via email or phone and often no money changes hands.  If a trade can’t be worked out offer to rent the property.  Shop carefully and request pictures.

Bed & Breakfasts are delightful places to stay especially in Europe for a reasonable price plus enjoy a home cooked breakfast to start each day.  Prices will vary, you may have to share a bath and a deposit will probably be required.  Many people say this is the only way to travel and savor the culture.

Elderhostels are the choice of many over the age of 55.  There are more than 8,000 elderhostels in all 50 states and more than 90 countries.  People from all walks of life gather together to experience educational tours, learn, exchange ideas and explore the world at a reasonable cost.  Cost will vary depending on where you travel.  These are not for profit tours with teachers and guides who know the countryside and culture.

Volunteer and vacation.  If you like the idea of going somewhere and helping others make a better way of life this may be for you.  Most of the time you travel in groups making discounts easier to obtain.

At home and abroad you spend time volunteering on various projects such as rebuilding homes in New Orleans or planting trees in the Amazon jungle.  But there’s always time for fun along the way.  Get more information from the United Way or Red Cross.

Trade your hotel keys for RV keys.  With the price of gas this is not as doable as it once was but more young people are buying RVs where it once was reserved for the 60 plus crowd.

The larger the family and the longer the trip the more you can save by foregoing hotels and preparing your own meals in the RV or at the camp site.  The work you do can offset the gas cost.  If you’re not sure you want to take the plunge and buy an RV many are available to rent.

If you’re seeking to reflect on your inner self, rooms at monasteries and spiritual retreats may be rented all over the country.  Most are inexpensive, some only require a donation.  You may also be asked to participate in some of their activities and help with chores but it’s not necessary to share their beliefs.  Experience the quiet amid beautiful settings. Break the hotel habit and seek the road less traveled. Untraditional vacations may be just what you’ve been longing for.

Can a Travel Package Help Me Save Money?

When looking to get away from the commotion of everyday life for a long period of time, or even just a weekend, be sure to find a value-packed travel package. Travel packages are almost always available for crowd attracting destinations such as Orlando, Las Vegas, Hawaii, and even cruise lines.

As far as pricing goes, the cost of the travel package is constructed on various things.  Something as small as time of the year can be a deciding factor in the price range of your travel package.

If you use a travel agent, it may depend on the capability of the agent to get discounts for you.  During slow season, hotels could offer discounts up to 50% depending on the days you’re staying.  Agents also promise a certain number of seats to be filled on specific flights, making them achieve a smaller cost per passenger.

Choose wisely because there are countless amounts and types of vacation travel packages.  Some travel packages take care of every little detail – including meals and even going as far as tips.  Travel packages can be simple or complex, depending on your preference.

Most travel packages include the 3 quintessential aspects of a getaway: airfare to and from your destination, hotels during your stay, and transportation while there. Various travel packages offer shuttle bus transportation to and from the hotel and/or various amusement destinations, while others only offer a discount on a rental.

Choose whichever will accommodate you best while on your beautiful vacation.  You don’t need to worry while on holiday, so pick the package that best suits you. Always consider convenience as well as price.  A travel package lets you spend less time finding deals and more time planning what activities you’ll be trying out while on vacation.

Glance through the travel package deals you find and decide whether you are going to take that “diving with sharks” lesson or unwind in a relaxing spa environment. Travel packages are great money saving devices for another reason – all of their perks.  A hip, new restaurant opening in Vegas may use travel packages as a way to advertise by offering a free entrée.

Often times, all-inclusive travel packages offer discounts of some kind at various attractions such as Disney while in Orlando.  Cruises may offer a freebie of some sort as well, such as a boarding picture, first dinner picture, or some other type of keepsake.

Travel packages can and hopefully will save you money.  Whether it’s in the form of freebies, discounts, or relief of stress, a travel package is worth scouting out.  The convenience of not having to worry about pesky details can make all the difference in the world.