Travel Expert and author of "Travel Wise, Travel Safe," Mary Long Harvey, joined us today to tell us that something good is emerging from the bad economy -- great deals on travel!
Mary Long’s Top Budget-Friendly Travel Tips
AIRLINES - Getting cheap seats:
Online bookings vs. travel agent
- Domestic vs. International airline tickets. TWO very separate issues with their own sets of ‘new rules’ today. OK to book domestic flights online with 1-2 legs through the widely used Travelocity, Expedia-type online companies. But no refunds, changes or re-issue possibilities. You are stuck with what you bought online. Be absolutely sure you understand the rules before giving your credit card. A travel agent can give you all the details and offer flexible tickets in the event you need to change.
- Take the 1-800 domestic (USA) carriers' phone numbers with you and others who fly the same routes in event of canceled flights, changes, rescheduled flights. You can call the others for protection.
- Use a Travel Agent for international tickets. They work with all carriers, including preferred suppliers who can get you ‘wholesale’ deeply discounted tickets. If an emergency occurs, you have a ‘real’ person to call and make special changes or cancellations with minimal fees. You as a passenger have more control with a travel agent.
Other Airline Saving Tips:
- Call airlines after midnight and on Sundays when they release unused seats.
- 2 week advance purchase still holds as well as 'sometimes' last minute fire sales.
- Read the newspaper for advertisements and timing of deals.
HOTELS – deals
There are a few ways to get the deals: Hands down, booking via Hotels.com and Expedia have the BEST deals. They have the exact same hotels, yet deals vary.
- Whatever the price you have on Hotel.com/Expedia -- if you contact the hotels, most will lower the price. An exception is Priceline.com. Typically, Priceline has lower prices for Chain Hotels. Example: Hilton in Portland through Priceline this month gave rooms for $40 a night that were $200. The trick is to call the hotel and make sure you get non-smoker if the city has smoking rooms or any other changes.
- Most hotels will give you a free extra night now if you book directly (not on Priceline, Hotels.com, etc.). Just ask.
- Ask hotels for other specials directly.
- Microhotels are up and coming worldwide and in major USA cities: 7'x8' single/boat bunk type bed, TV, Internet, Ipod $100 or less per night. 2 bathrooms per floor.
- Book as far out as possible 6 months in to get best deals. Hotels do sell out during peak times or convention periods
CRUISES – Hottest deals are on the market TODAY!
Destination driven markets: Alaska, Caribbean, Mexico from $499 --- less than half off normal rate.
- Family Cruises: Kids programs are really hitting big time: Family of four cannot stay home and eat 4+ meals per day for what cruises cost today. New On/Off board activities include: bowling alleys, summer camp includes kids cooking programs with celebrity chef's, tween and teen clubs with interactive talk game shows.
CAR & RV Rentals
- Rent an SUV instead of using your own. Save wear & tear on your car --- and if there's a problem, it's not yours. As low as $50 per day.
- RV rentals are popular today for as low as $565 for a week. Includes 4 berth automatic vehicle, fridge/freezer, stove, toilet & shower. That's $81 per day. Gas & insurance from $10+ per day extra not included. You can even add mountain bike rentals, baby seats, etc. to your rental from the companies.
Money & Time Saving Travel Tips for Family Members
- Purchase 'Prepaid' telephone card and save lots of money while traveling. Each family member can have their own and when it runs out, it's out.
- Planning ahead saves tons of time, and time is money. Make sure each person has their own map of the destination, does their own homework, knows the itinerary. Make it a family project, not just the parents.
- Purchase trip cancellation, baggage, and medical emergency insurance. Home policies do not cover most out of town emergency travel changes and out of pocket expenses.
- Make sure each traveler has a copy of the entire itinerary including hotel/resort telephone numbers and addresses.
- Make sure each adult & child carries their own ID, money, documents, and special medications. Thievery is on the rise in all tourism places.
- Take 2 credit cards in the event one is lost or stolen.
- Pack your awareness and common sense and take a copy of Mary Long's book "Travel Wise, Travel Safe."