Today’s sky high gas prices and hotel room rates make it harder than ever to take an economical vacation. If the traveler is willing to be flexible in a few areas, it’s still possible to take a vacation that won’t eat too far into the family or individual savings accounts. Consider these tips the next time you’re planning a trip.
I came across this tip while listening to the radio one evening several years ago. I wasn’t paying much attention to the show that featured a guest talking about the airline industry and air travel. My ears perked up when he mentioned the two major airports in my home state: Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati and Louisville International. The guest was making the point that people looking for ways to save on their tickets should consider an alternate airport instead of the largest one. He went on to say that Louisville is a good example because it offers many of the same flights as the Northern Kentucky airport and they’re only about an hour’s drive apart. Since then, I’ve used Louisville quite a few times and ended up saving hundreds of dollars over the years.
Book It on the Go
If I’m taking something like a five or seven day trip, and I’m going to be in a different location the majority of the nights, I’ll book my first two nights on Priceline and then book the rest on the go. I’ve noticed that sites like Priceline tend to be more willing to negotiate a room rate the closer it is to the night I’m actually going to be in the city where I’m staying. This isn’t for everyone because of the possibility of having to shell out big bucks for a hotel or being forced to stay in a rat trap if Priceline isn’t willing to negotiate. With all the options on internet booking sites, the possibility of coming up empty handed is remote, and I haven’t had a major problem yet.
If you don’t have to go on vacation during the high season of a particular area, you can go during the shoulder season. I’ve been to Cape Cod over a dozen times but never in the summer when the crowds pour in from everywhere to clog the beaches and the village streets, restaurants and hotels. I always go in the spring or fall and enjoy a much quieter yet still vibrant local scene while saving a bunch of bucks.
Find the Grocery Store
Even in the shoulder seasons, dinners in the restaurants of many popular areas can be on the extreme side of the price scale. I like to eat a nice breakfast and I’ll eat the complimentary hotel breakfast if it looks good or I don’t have a special place in mind to try. It’s not very hard to find a breakfast bargain just about anywhere and sometimes I’ll have breakfast at lunch too. I always go by the grocery store to pick up a few things for an easy picnic meal. My wife and I have enjoyed quite a few grocery store lobster rolls as we enjoyed the view of Nantucket Sound for our dinner.
Take the Train
The passenger train system in Great Britain and Europe is much more sophisticated and extensive than the one in the United States. Amtrak is fine if you’re going on a long cross country venture but it’s not as user friendly for actually touring a particular part of the country. I’ve flown into the airport at Shannon, Ireland, and alternate to Dublin, more than once and found I had a wealth of route choices all over Britain and Europe that included small villages and great cities, and I never had to hail a cab.