The key to making sure you’re not spending too much on your summer vacation is strategy.
TIME IS MONEY
This adage is oh-so true in travel. The more time you put it, the more likely it is you will save money. Research is essential—both before and after booking.
HOTELS: THE DATING GAME
Instead of one reservation for a 7-night stay, consider making individual reservations. You might find lower rates.
Case in point: We priced a Hilton hotel for a one-week stay in May. Its website generated a rate of $85 per night, every night. But if we made seven one-night reservations for the very same room during the very same time, the system generated nightly rates at low as $49.
Over the course of the week we would save $114.
RENTAL CARS: DAILY CHECK
When you make a rental car reservation, it’s imperative that you regularly check back with the agency to determine if a lower rate is available. Provided your rental is not pre-paid (which isn’t always the best deal), you should be able to either modify the existing reservation to grab the lower rate or cancel it and start with a new one that will cost you less.
We recently tracked prices for a one-day rental from Tampa and were astounded at the 58 percent price drop. What started at a roughly $55 rental two months prior to pick-up dipped to $23 the week of pick-up. If that rental had been a week-long reservation, the savings could have topped $200.
FLIGHTS: TWO ONE-WAYS
Cheap flights are not easy to find. And airline pricing is one of the least-understood languages around. The Internet’s well-known search engines do well at exploring all available options to get you from point A to point B at the best available rate.
But, some human intervention might save you money.
When you are flying roundtrip (which most people do), also check prices for one-way flights. Sometimes, these itineraries might be overlooked by the online travel agencies’ computers – especially when it is advantageous to fly out on one airline and return on another carrier.
FLIGHTS: UPGRADE FOR LESS
In rare occasions, the airlines’ first class or business class fares are lower than coach class. It’s unlikely. But it’s worth researching before you book. Checking is free, after all.
What’s more common is a premium cabin fare that’s close to cattle class.
We recently saw business class fares to Hawaii that were just $200 more than coach. That’s a fantastic deal when you consider: three checked bags are included, meals are included, priority boarding is free, and your seat on the long flights (9 hours from Atlanta to Honolulu and another 9 hours from Honolulu to Atlanta) reclines flat like a bed.