Budget Travel – Planning Smartly is As Important As Reserving Smartly

A few years ago, the Travel Industry Association of America estimated that a typical vacation cost about $2,200.00 That amount has no doubt gone up and probably will skyrocket when 2008 totals come in. For the sake of argument however, imagine if you cut that total down by just $100 to $150 or even more by planning smartly – you’d save a ton over the next few years.

Some vacations are no-brainers: you just come home one day and say “Let’s head to the hills for a few days” or “Let’s go to the islands for a week.” You are not going to find many bargains that way as you may be so late in booking, prices are out of site. In these cases, you simply grin and bear it. On the other hand, not having a reservation may yield a CHEAPER hotel rate depending on where you are going and how booked the hotels are.

But imagine if you plan a summer trip in January. The only thing you have to beware of are flights or hotels that have artificially high prices because you are reserving so early. Here is where researching your options can pay off. By investigating hotels months ahead, you can perhaps cut $25 off the room night price, especially if you avoid Third Party Travel sites, by waiting to book later in the spring. Or you can find accommodations that are not as elegant but plenty worthy of a week’s stay and you might slash your nightly bill from $200 to $129.

Reserving a rental car works much the same way. Car Rental companies usually offer high rates the further out you reserve a car. So by waiting to reserve maybe 30 days or less to arrival, you can probably slash the daily rental rate from $59 to a budget pleasing $39 or even lower.

Airline fares are more of a gamble. While airlines MAY have lower rates the further out you book them, they also may not show you all the rates they have available and you don’t see them. It would likely chap your hide to book a Hawaii flight for $449 per ticket and 3 months later see them offered at $329. But people who DIDN’T reserve flights in Jan 2008 to go to Hawaii in the summer were then faced with fuel surcharges and higher ticket prices by May and June. You have to decide which option works best for you and perhaps be willing to forego Hawaii for this year and go somewhere cheaper like a National Parks tour or Florida.

In the above examples, if you did cut your six night hotel bill by $25 and a car rental by $20 per day, you have realized an immediate savings of over $250 (after taxes). Not a bad return for simply planning smarter.

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