I don’t care if all of the political pundits and talking heads are saying otherwise (and don’t even get me started on the Kathy Lee hour on Today!) “Stay-cations” are lame. Well, let me qualify that – Stay-cations can be great ways to really see the city you live in with new eyes. But let’s be honest, Stay-cations are never as cool as the real deal. I’d like to think over the last few years I’ve honed some skills on finding great steals and deals on fabulous vacations. So I convinced S & T to let me share some of my not-so-secret-anymore tips with my wht family. Whether you are just trying to spice up a long weekend in the next state or make your international travel dreams a reality, I believe that you can make anything happen!
Airfare – Research, shop around, then book quickly. I think this is the biggest challenge of all. There are many places that just aren’t practical by train or car. Listen to the evening news on TV or radio. In this economy they are always reporting on fare sales that major airline companies are having. Use sites like SideStep (one of my absolute favorites), Hotwire or CheapOair to find bargain basement prices. If you find a price you like, don’t wait to book! Because often these sites are authorized to sell only 1 or 2 seats at bargain prices and then the deal is gone for good. It also helps to know what is a “regular” price for airfare to your desired destination so you have a basis for comparison. The Travel section at Bing gives you a 30 or 60 day outlook on average fare prices to any destination that you enter.
Lodging – Get creative for big savings. Honestly, how much time are you really going to spend in your room? Not much, I hope, so you can definitely afford to scrimp here! Besides scouring the well-known travel sites for deals, check out Craigslist for weekly or monthly private home rentals or home swaps. These are often good deals because if you make the arrangement privately you don’t have to pay broker’s fees. NEVER wire money to anyone first, cash on delivery is the safest option for everyone. Also, rifle through the listings and reviews at Tripadvisor to find deals on lesser known hotels and bed & breakfasts. As always, the off-season never hurts!
Activities – Do your homework and act like a local. With all of the money you’ll be saving you can surely afford to pick up a travel book about your desired destination. I have 8 books about Paris and I’ve read them all cover to cover multiple times! These books are packed with tips about restaurants and attractions. They often list the prices or a range of prices so you can plan how, when and where to spend your money. When it comes to dining, if you’re a food-lover like me, don’t be set on 3 squares a day. A light breakfast and lunch leaves room in your stomach and money in your wallet to have a good splurge dinner one or two nights. In larger cities, try to avoid overly tourist-y areas to eat and buy souvenirs. The prices are notoriously higher. If their menu is translated into 7 languages it’s not authentic and usually overpriced. Tripadvisor can also help you find local treasures. For sightseeing, visit the websites of the places you know you’d like to visit to find deals. For example, most museums have evenings that are 1/2 price or free.
I hope these tips help you to get away this summer – and I’m always ready to hear some more!
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