Tips To Save Money On Vacations
Posted by Sarah at 8:48 pm in Great Deals, Travel

With summer around the corner, perhaps, like me, you are contemplating whether you can afford to take a vacation this year. Since there’s nothing like getting away from it all to de-stress and recharge batteries, investing in a vacation is generally money well spent. But a savvy traveler tries to get the most for her money, so here are some ideas to travel on the cheap.

Utilize credit cards that get you airline miles or hotel points. It might be too late for this summer, but getting free airfare or hotel stay will go a long way to bring down the cost of a vacation. If you are not already using a credit card that gets you miles or points for the dollars you charge, consider getting one. Although some may charge a fairly hefty annual charge (you need to calculate whether you charge enough to make it worthwhile), hotel cards are fairly reasonable. One I particularly like is the Starwood American Express card. It currently costs $45/year and I’ve been able to score many free hotel nights all over the world thanks to this card. Currently you can get 10,000 bonus points when you sign up for the card, which can get you several free nights in a lower category hotel. So you might still be able to get a nice weekend get-a-way this summer on the cheap. You will need to be a member of their frequent guest program, which is free to join. Go to www.spg.com for more information.

Consider purchasing a package. If you are looking at buying airfare, hotel, etc., check out package deals, but remember to compare prices with booking the components separately. Often packages are a bit cheaper than booking everything separately, but they come with some drawbacks, mainly the ability to cancel. So you should take out insurance to protect yourself if you do need to cancel, but this obviously then adds to the cost of the package. Still it’s worth checking out.

Stay in bed and breakfasts. If you don’t care about a pool or the amenities of a large hotel, staying in a bed and breakfast can go a long way to bringing down your lodging costs. These establishments will often cost less than half the price of similar quality hotel rooms, but may be located in residential areas and thus a bit out of the way. Although it might be a little more difficult to get information on B&Bs than on hotels, but many, if not most, have websites and TripAdvisor does have some reviews of these establishments (www.tripadvisor.com – type in your destination and B&Bs ).

Bid for travel. Websites like Priceline and Hotwire allow you to name your price for one of more components of your trip, allowing you to pay significantly less for hotels, airfare, even car rental. Find this concept a bit overwhelming? Start by perusing the forums on www.betterbidding.com , a website where travelers report how much they offered and paid for their travel. This will give you an idea how the system works and how much to bid for what you want. You can also deduce which hotels are considered 3 stars, 4 stars, etc. in any given locale. Remember that your bid, if accepted, cannot be changed or cancelled and your credit card will be billed before you know the name of the hotel, airline, etc.

Negotiate. While this probably won’t work with airlines, you can negotiate with hotels, especially during periods of lower occupancy (i.e. the offseason), although it can’t hurt to try anytime. After perusing betterbidding.com, you will have an idea of how low hotels will sell their rooms for, so why not call them directly and see if they’ll match the price when you want to travel. Ask about all specials and keep saying “no, please look for something better” until they find a price that you are comfortable with and think is a good value.

Travel off season. We all know that airfares to Europe are much cheaper in the winter than in the fall, but virtually every component of a trip will run less in the off season. So if there’s a place that you really want to go and can’t quite afford when the crowds are high, try pricing it in the off season. In addition to saving money, you will also be dealing with fewer crowds.

Good luck and have a great vacation!

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