Pretty much everyone loves to travel. There is nothing like standing in the footsteps of history or relaxing on a tropical beach. But those kinds of vacations are expensive. Who can afford to take them? Well, if you know a few tricks, you can. By following just a couple of tips when planning your vacations, you can save a fortune.
Avoid Peak Season
Every major destination has a peak season. For example, in Europe that season is the summer. In Hawaii, that season is the winter, December through March, according to Frommer’s travel guide. If you travel during these times, the destinations will be more crowded and rates will be far higher. By avoiding these times, you will save money.
Some travel professionals use a head and shoulders analogy to describe the difference. The head is the peak (or high) season, and the shoulders, on either sides of it, are times where the prices will be lower, and the experience is often better. For example, a few years back, my wife and I took a European cruise. When I was planning the trip, I found that that by booking in a “shoulder” period in the early fall, I saved more than $1,000 per person. Because of this, we booked a far nicer cabin for less money. If we had traveled just three weeks earlier, it would have been much more expensive, the destinations would have been packed, and the weather less enjoyable. As it turned out, we have a friend who took the exact same cruise, on the exact same ship, one month earlier. She paid far more and said that the cities were packed with tourists and the weather was so hot in Italy that she really didn’t enjoy the sightseeing.
Give Hotels the Opportunity to Upgrade You
When I was much younger, I worked at the front desk of a large hotel. I can tell you from experience that everyone at the desk enjoyed doing nice things for people, especially for kind people. So help them to help you. If it’s your anniversary, birthday, or any special event, put that in the comments. While it is not a guarantee that you will get an upgrade, you often will. Most hotel employees are used to being thoroughly abused by many of their guests. So if you are a nice, respectful, and kind with them, they truly appreciate it. Given the chance, they will often do something nice in return. I loved upgrading people for special events. It was my favorite part of the job.
However, do remember: Sometimes no matter how much they would like to upgrade you, the upgrade just isn’t available. And please treat them like the hardworking professionals they are. I use this tip to this day. I always put special events in the comments, and I go out of my way to treat the employees like people, by asking about them and how their day is going. More often than not, I get a wonderful upgrade or a really nice room.
Save on Rental Car Insurance
There are many financial experts who tell you not to get rental car insurance. However, I go at it a different way. Because the insurance is so expensive (often more than the rental rate on the car), I never buy it from the car company. Rather, I keep a credit card specifically for that benefit. There are many credit companies that provide such a service, but I use American Express. The card I have automatically gives me rental insurance for only $17 per rental (when I reserve and pay for the rental on that card). You read that right. Instead of paying $25 or more per day, I pay $17 per rental. I used to travel more than 20 weeks per year, and that one feature saved me a huge amount of money. For me, $17 is worth not having to file a claim with my own insurance, and never having to pay the deductible.
These three tips will go a long way toward allowing you to have a nicer travel experience for less.
Enjoy your journeys.
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