Some work is involved in travel planning, but it is the best way to get great bargains. If you are in the mood for holiday travel, have no particular destination in mind, and are fairly flexible in the dates, you are in optimum mode for savings. Even if you already know where you are going, and the dates are cut in stone, these tips will help avoid much of your holiday spending.
Book your cruise and air reservations as far in advance as possible. Booking a cruise early often earns an upgrade. Is there someone you get along with that would like to go along? Cruise prices are based on double occupancy, but the price shown is for per person. A four-day Mexican Sampler for one or two from Los Angeles can start at $998 on Princess Cruises . A friend or relative in the cabin paying a share of the cost has saved you hundreds of dollars.
Compare prices on the airlines. If you are not in a hurry, you can save a lot of money by flying short jaunts at a time, rather than a direct flight. If you want to vacation in Phoenix, AZ, check the cost of a flight from your town to Salt Lake City, Utah, or Las Vegas, NV. Then check the best price from that location to Phoenix. Airlines run specials on certain flights all the time, reducing your holiday spending.
The same holds true for room reservations. If you see a great rate on Travelocity, call the hotel directly and let them know the rate and date listed. Often, they will give you a better deal.
Avoid the expense and hassle of parking at the airport or harbor. Take a shuttle. This also eliminates the question of “where did I park the car?”
Use your cards
If you are going to get a rental car, and you have American Express (AMEX), talk to your AMEX agent. For a minimal charge, certain cards can have travel insurance added. When you rent the car, the agents always try to sell you an insurance plan that costs more than the rental. By paying your car rental fee with AMEX (you can also do the booking through them), the insurance is covered. That is a huge savings, and a lot of worry eliminated.
No matter where you are or what service you are after, ask about discounts. AAA and AARP will get you a discount at many places. Ask first if there is a better deal. Some places offer a discounted time or day that can save you even more, if you have time to wait. Again, use pre-planning. Call or email the places you want to visit, so you have current information.
If you decide to drive to your destination, consider a ride-share. There may be someone you know that would like to visit the same place, or somewhere near, and is willing to share the cost of fuel.
Take sandwiches, fried chicken, fruit, veggies, and drinks; it is like having a mini-picnic along the way, and minimizes travel spending. Use “dollar or less” menus at fast-food places to save money.
Organize your packing
Make a list of what you need to take along. If you leave your swimsuit at home, and spend $50 on a new one, savings fly out the window. Remember walking shoes, medicine, and a light jacket.
Make a list
Just like Santa, make a list of what you intend to buy on your travels. Impulse buying is so easy when we’re out and about. Even the small purchases can add up quickly.
Find out where an economical buffet is and visit for late lunch, to get a healthy, filling meal. Use the dollar menu for a “tide-over” breakfast or dinner.
If you are a senior citizen, contact the Senior Center in the area where you are visiting. Often, you can get an inexpensive meal, and take part in activities, too. It also gives you a chance to hear the scoop from those who know every bargain in town and beyond.
Enjoy your holiday travel. Make notes about things you want to remember. Have a great time.
The above is the work of the author, based on personal experience in travel planning for friends, family, and work-related activities.