As the winter season drags on, travel hopes are exceedingly high for the next big vacation. But, of course, that trip may need to be on a budget, so here are five tips to turn that next getaway into an affordable adventure.
We tapped top travel guru Peter Greenberg, the travel editor for CBS News, for his secrets to saving the most on your next vacation.
1. Time It Right
You can afford visiting a swanky destination…as long as you arrive at the right time. Travelers can score big savings either before or after high season times by taking advantage of “shoulder season” rates.
“Last year in Colorado and Wyoming [the ski season] extended through July, so you don’t necessarily have to go in January, February and March. Go in April, May and June for better lift ticket deals and all-inclusive packages,” says Greenberg.
The same rule of thumb applies for cruises, he adds. If you go before June 15 or after September 4 for an Alaskan cruise, for example, you could save almost 50%.
2. Rent a Home
If you plan to travel with a large family or group of friends, skip the hotel and rent a home, instead. Websites like VRBO.com, Homeaway.com and VacationRentals.com allow you to negotiate with property owners directly. All three sites insure a rental guarantee of up to $10,000.
“If you’re traveling during the shoulder season you’ll find that apartments and villas are priced for the local market, not for the tourist market,” says Greenberg. You can get a home for 50% to 60% less than what even a cheap hotel would cost you.
3. Pack Efficiently
Airlines raked in more than $3 billion in baggage fees alone, last year. To get around those pesky fees, plan ahead and pack a compact carry-on bag, rolling garments tightly and wearing your bulkiest clothes on board.
Check your airline’s site for updates related to measurement requirements. Airport security might allow your carry-on, but your airline may have different restrictions and charge you a fee just as you’re about to board.
4. Call Hotels Directly
To save on hotel reservations you could go through various travel websites, but Peter says to find even better, perhaps exclusive, deals call the hotel directly.
“Ask to speak to the manager on duty or director of sales. They know what their inventory is. And they know that an unsold hotel room is a revenue they’ll never recoup once the sun rises, especially if a wedding canceled last night and they have rooms to dump, you’ll never see that on their website or hear about it on their 800 number,” says Greenberg.
5. Contact Airline Agents
The same goes for booking airfare. Not all flight options are listed on the Internet. It’s best to call the airline agent to see if they have, for example, any positioning flights going to your destination.
“If you go online and try to get a flight, [the airline’s] only going to give you what they want to give you. If you have a conversation with a human being, there are a lot of other questions you can ask about alternate airports, alternate routings and maybe even something called a positioning flight, which they actually just need to get the plane from Point A to Point B and don’t care what’s on the plane,” says Greenberg. “They have to move the equipment.”
He gave an example of flying from New York to Los Angeles recently. Online, regular one-way tickets cost $809. “I asked about a positioning flight on the phone and guess what? They had a flight an hour and half earlier, same kind of plane, non-stop for $109,” he says.
We want to hear from you. What are some of the clever ways you have saved on travel? Connect with me on Twitter @Farnoosh and use #finfit.