Feb 7 2012
My husband and I love to travel. When the recession hit, like everyone, we tightened our belts. It looked like vacations were going to be a casualty. But time away is important; we all need to relax and recharge. Believe it or not this is actually a perfect time to travel and you can do it without straining your budget. How is that possible? Well, the travel industry has been really hurt by this economic downturn and has extended unbelievable money saving offers. You just need to know where to find the deals.
Internet travel sites like Kayak, Travelocity and Expedia are well known ways to look for and compare travel prices. Hotwire, Hotels dot Com, and Priceline are well advertised and also worthwhile places to search.
If you like luxury hotels, my personal favorite website is What a Hotel. They offer hotels not available through other discount booking sites. They beat even the best published rates and often give you additional perks like breakfast included, food and beverage, and/or spa credits. For most bookings your credit card is not charged and the reservation is cancellable.
But there are other places to look at that offer great deals. Check out these tips. With a little digging you too can be a savvy traveler on a shoe string budget.
1. Visit During the Off or Low Season
This is an idea people often overlook. If you want to go to a warm beach in the depths of winter then this tip isn’t for you, but if you want to enjoy a spot without the tourist overload and with lots of personal attention this might be a money saving idea to use. Try the mountains of New England in the summer instead of at foliage or ski time. There are still lots of activities to keep you busy as well as plenty of peace and quiet. Or visa versa; Newport R.I. in the winter is a lovely place to enjoy a relaxing, romantic getaway at a small fraction of the summer high season rates.
2. Start a Vacation Club Savings Account
Putting away a few dollars each pay check can turn into a vacation. You’ll hardly notice the equilivent of one mocha latte that you squirrel away. If you have the money automatically deposited to your account you will never even notice it. Then, when you are ready, you’ll have the funds, and sunshine you need.
3. Join a Discount Travel Email Newsletter
For hotels: Snique Away and Jettsetter have great limited time offers that you can book directly with them. If you want something more upscale try Vacationist or Luxury Link.
For air, hotel and packages: Many online travel sites offer a weekly newsletter that alerts you to all their deals. Travel Zoo and Travel Ticker are two really great sites that cull from all the offering out there to bring you a list of the best.
4. Join Brand Rewards Clubs
Always check to see if the hotels you are considering booking have a rewards club. Just by enrolling many will give you perks like free Wi-Fi, free spa/fitness area access, upgrades and even breakfast. You can book the lowest priced room but get the services of a more expensive package.
5. Use Group Coupon Sites
Sites like Living Social and Groupon are now offering travel as well as product and service deals. They also have discounts on tickets to local and regional events giving you opportunities for day trips. Cast your net a little wider than your home town to see possible offers in the places you’d like to visit as well. This can bring you money saving offers you can use at your destination. Check out Dawn’s post on how to navigate those sites here.
Vacations are one of the larger expenses that people cut back on when tightening up their belt, but if you use these tips, you wont have to. These are my personal tips to saving money on vacations – what are some of yours?