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Friday, August 7, 2009

Travel Tips


There is one activity I love to do on a regular basis and that is travel. I find airports exhilarating with the smells of coffee and people rushing here and there in anticipation of the next destination. I love exploring new places and seeing the vast landscapes of this country as well as those across the globe. Unfortunately travel comes at a price, and I often have to get a little creative to make my dreams a reality. There are still many limitations to my desires to travel, especially overseas, but I have found many ways to get away at least once or twice a year.
I have listened to many people talk about how they would love to get away, but the most common complaint is of course money. I have also found that with all of the resources available with the invention of the worldwide web there is still a lack of information among the general public in regards to obtaining good travel deals. On this note I decided to write a blog with some tips that I use to make travel more affordable for our family.
Tip #1 Don’t Be Scared of Priceline
I remember many years ago when priceline first came out. I love William Shatner so the commercials really stuck out to me. I’m not sure if people think this is too good to be true or if they are just worried about bidding on a hotel with little information. Let me tell you if you can be a little flexible with your wants and needs you can score big on this one. Chris and I have a policy never to pay more than $50-$60 for a hotel room. We have stayed at Hyatt’s, Marriott’s, Holiday Inn’s, etc. We usually always bid on the highest star rating available for the area, but if all you desire is a bed and a shower to rest between sightseeing than you can usually get a two star for as little as $30/night. For more tips on how to place a good bid check out this site www.betterbidding.com. This also can work really well for rental cars. We usually can get a standard car for about $20/day, but we have scored as low as $13/day. On this particular occasion we were actually upgraded to an SVU upon arrival.
Tip #2 Skip the High Life and Eat With the Locals
I love a good meal as much as the next guy, but when you are on a budget sometimes the gourmet restaurant mentioned in your Airline travel magazine just isn’t going to cut it. I have found that there are some great bargains and food to be had eating where the locals go. If you are downtown or close to a tourist area try to drive or catch a ride to a nearby neighborhood. Often you will find a hidden treasure tucked away in a strip mall. If you are in a big city with specific cultural areas check out a local pub or eatery. It can be a great way to get the true vibe of an area. It’s also possible to find some great specials. Chris actually experienced this while in Chicago in Greek town. He found a pub offering $1 cheeseburgers and some cheap drafts. It sure beats a $20 hotel burger.
Tip #3 Coupons are not just for Your Momma Anymore
It may sound silly, but when we go out of town I immediately start browsing for local food and attractions that have coupons or deals going on. Recently before we went to California I joined several restaurant clubs to receive e-mail deals. Of course most of these places are not even located in Texas, but just for joining I received a lot of buy one get one free deals and free desserts. Restaurants.com is also a helpful resource. You can pick the area you will be staying and buy gift certificates that are $10-$50 for about $3.00 a piece. You may have to order a minimum amount of food, but we usually still save quite a bit.
Tip #4 Save Cash and Leave the Credit Cards at Home
This one is near and dear to our hearts since we became avid Dave Ramsey followers. A lot of people think that a vacation is out of reach if they even tried to save for it. I have found that people do what they want to do. If you want something bad enough you can save for almost anything. I have found pulling small amounts of cash out every pay day and making a vacation envelope can have you on the way to your dream destination in no time. Just think how easily you can spend $50 a week just going out for lunch every day. Skip the lunch and brown bag it. Just $50 a week over the course of a year will $2400 towards a nice little vacation. Once you have your cash leave the credit cards at home. It is easy to become tempted by silly diversions. What may seem like a good idea at the time will translate to probably hundreds maybe thousands of dollars of interest over the years. Just think about it before you by the dashboard hula girl. You’re here for the memories which are easily captured by camera, not a tacky trinket.
Tip #5 When Booking Air Travel Refer to Tip #1
I hate to admit it, but I am a little spoiled in this. With my dad working for an airline I pay for some taxes and fees, but not nearly what a full price ticket can be. This does not mean you cannot still have an affordable experience. I have heard of many people getting excellent deals through Priceline by naming their own price. Chris also signs up to receive American’s net saver fares. He has seen some excellent deals come through this.
Tip #6 Be Flexible
I believe this is first and foremost for anyone desiring to travel on a budget. I tend to be fairly low maintenance on a lot of things so this comes a little easier for me. If you really want to get out there and see the world you need to be willing to adapt. You will find that if you can relax a little on the specifics and do your homework you can experience a wonderful vacation for a deeply discounted price.

2 comments:

ArtisanSavant said...

Thanks for this blog, Crystal! I'm favorite placing it because it's really helpful. Did you know that I just went to Europe for 2 weeks recently? It was my first time out of the country, and it was AWESOME. :) I am a little closer in being a world travel like you now!

Anyway, give me a call sometime when you get free time (if ever) - I'd love to catch up. :)

crystalmedrano said...

I'm glad I could pass along a few tips. I'm definitely not the world traveler these days. I just haven't bothered to renew the passport.
That is really cool that you made it to Germany. I would love to explore there one day. Where did you stay while you were there?