Money-saving tips for your next vacation.
Most people these days are tightening their belts and saving frantically as the term global recession becomes part of everyday conversation. As a result less people are travelling nowadays, so hotels, lodges, airlines and travel agents are constantly devising special offers and promotions in an attempt to win business in these tough times. Thats great news for customers who are tightening their belts but still looking for a vacation. Believe it or not, with a little imagination, you can afford to take a holiday. You just need to know where to look.
Planning your trip
Use your fingers: Aggregator sites are a consumers best friend, as they find the best deals. Sights such as Kayak, Lastminute and Expedia make searching for flights and hotels a cinch. Another helpful hint: Search for flights using the one-way function instead of return for sometimes cheaper deals.
Work backwards: Very often searching for specials before deciding on your destination can be a good approach. Letting the destination choose itself based on the deals and offers you find specials can be an exciting process.
Plan in advance: Sign up for free newsletters on travel websites, such as The Away Network, USA Tourist, The European Traveller and Australian Traveller.
Timing is everything: Travelling during off-season, midweek, at the last minute, late at night or early in the morning means cheaper prices and probably a slightly quieter holiday with regards to crowds not a bad thing in anyones books!
Cut out the Middleman: Book directly through the company, whether its an airline or a hotel and browse directly through the site.
Driving or flying? Whether you choose domestic or international travel, use tool such as Gasbuddy, and TripCalculator to get an idea of fuel costs, while websites such as CheapFlights and Expedia are helpful tools for getting an idea of flight pricing and airline options.
Make the most of budget airlines: Avoid long stopovers. Fly directly to a major city and catch a budget airline to your final destination. Take advantage of cheap airlines such as Ryanair, BMI and Monarch in the UK , Virgin Blue and Jetstar in Australia, or Southwest, JetBlue and SpiritAir in the United States. Websites such as CheapFlights are great tools for scouting out your options.
Look for all-inclusive deals: Find a package holiday with flights, accommodation, meals, transfers, transport and tours included in the cost. Check the Internet for sites such as Dealbase, which can be very helpful in keeping an eye open for specials.
Cruising: Travelling on a cruise ship is currently one of the most popular and cost-effective means of travel. A great way to see a lot of cities from a different point of view and have the majority of your costs, such as accommodation, transport and meals already taken care of, cruising is a great money-saving option.
Once youre there
Dont forget your travel insurance: Many credit card companies, such as Visa and MasterCard, offer free medical and travel insurance to those who book their holiday using their credit card but check the terms of your insurance as some cards only offer limited cover.
Cut the costs: Look for other ways of cutting costs, such as weekly passes for public transport, sightseeing cards, or if planning a family holiday, remember to look out for special rates for school children as attractions such as theme parks often include discounts during school holidays.
Keep your money close: Avoid using ATMs as they offer the worst exchange rate and highest charges. Be new-age and opt for an electronic travel wallet or travel card, a prepaid currency card which allows the user to load their travel money at a fixed exchange rate onto the card which can be used in an ATM or simply swiped anywhere. Sites such as Cash Passport and MasterCard provide more information.
Book half or full board: Accommodation with breakfast included is wise as thats one meal of the day taken care of. Full-board is even better as all your meals are accounted for, but it is wise to first find out the types of meals provided, such as set menu or buffet and whether or not alcoholic beverages are included in the cost.
Skip duty-free: Duty-free shopping is one of the biggest money-wasters that some travellers just cant seem to avoid. If youre looking to buy a decent souvenir, such as a jar of olives in Italy, try to do so in a supermarket rather than a souvenir store that sells all the regular tourist tat.