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With the recent warm spring afternoons it has many of us, myself included, thinking about planning a summer vacation. Whether it be a family road trip, or a flight to a far off destination, now is a great time to put the plan into motion and save some money in the process. With that in mind, below are some specific tips on how to save money on airfare, accommodations, and a cruise vacation. Also, if you are planning a last-minute spring break getaway with the kids this year, I have a great tip on how to save money on a vacation rental home or condo.
Know When to Buy Airfare
As a general rule you’ll want to book your airfare at least 8 weeks prior to your departure to score the best deal. Also, it’s a little known fact that the best day of the week to buy your tickets for domestic travel is on a Tuesday at 3pm EST. This is because airlines typically start new promotions on Mondays, other air carriers jump in Tuesday morning to keep their prices competitive and all price matching is typically wrapped up by Tuesday afternoon reflecting the lower fares. I’m a big fan of FareCompare.com as a great way to find the cheapest flight as their mission is not to sell you a ticket, but rather to get you the most current deal information when planning your flights.
Save on Hotel Rooms
In an effort to book hotel rooms for the summer, many online travel websites have been giving me some pretty attractive coupons to post on Rather-Be-Shopping.com. If you are in the planning stages of a summer vacation it’s a great time to book your room and save some significant money. To give you an idea of the savings I have been given recently, I’ve received a 20% off coupon code for hotel rooms booked through Orbitz.com and a 25% off discount on hotel rooms via Cheap Ticket.com. Both of these coupons are the best I have seen in the past five years.
Look Beyond Hotels
A great alternative to a cramped hotel room, especially for families, is using VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner) to rent a home or condo directly from the owner. When it is all said and done, you can often rent a vacation home for less money than renting a couple hotel rooms. The added bonus of more space and being able to save significant money by preparing meals in the kitchen makes it an excellent option.
VRBO Spring Break Tip: Having helped my parents the last couple years rent their beach condo on VRBO.com, I can report that often you can score a great last-minute deal if you play your cards right. When I have a prospective guest contact me last-minute for the upcoming weekend, I often drop the price significantly to avoid the condo sitting completely empty earning nothing. I know for a fact that many owners on VRBO do the same thing themselves. So if you’re planning a last minute spring break trip this year, try this tactic and ask politely if the owner will drop their fee to get you in the door. I think you (and your wallet) will be pleasantly surprised with the result.
Use a Travel Agent to Book a Cruise
With the many online travel websites available, and the ability to quickly compare pricing, many travelers don’t consider a travel agent a needed requirement these days. But in the case of booking a cruise I strongly recommend going through a local travel agent, especially a cruise specialist if you can find one. They may or may not be able to get you a better price, but they’ll often be able to hook you up with some great free upgrades and be a terrific source of information like what cabin to stay in, dining times, and pre and post cruise travel arrangements. Free cruise upgrades travel agents often have up their sleeves include discounted shore excursions, onboard credit, and prepaid gratuities.
Kyle James lives in Redding with his wife and 3 kids. His online business, Rather-Be-Shopping.com, specializes in online and printable coupons to over 800 national retailers and since 2001 has been featured in the New York Times, The Today Show, and Reader’s Digest to name a few.