Find Budget Travel
Right about now I think we are all ready and thinking of heading somewhere WARM! What will it cost though?
Record gas prices. Extra charges to bring luggage on an airplane. Soaring food prices. Want to take a trip? Can you? Where there's a will (and a little ingenuity), there's a way. There are plenty of ways to cut your travel costs if you know where to look.
Transportation may be the most challenging aspect of budget travel. Luckily, searching for cheap airfares is easier than it used to be, thanks to the Internet. Web sites such as Travelzoo.com and budgettravel.com are a wealth of information.
There are two ways to go: the "don't wait until the last minute" and the "do it at the last minute." Option number one is the way to go if you're the plan-everything kind of traveler. If you're a planner, this is the best way to save on airline tickets. Plan your travel well in advance, which is the kiss of death to spontaneity, but it's a small price to pay for cheaper airfare.
For you spontaneous, just-need-to-get-away types, you can find rock-bottom priced airfare on the major airlines, who release last-minute sale fares on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays for travel in the days and weeks ahead. Last-minute airfares usually depart on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays, and return on Sundays through Wednesdays. Keep an eye on the last-minute airfares that are released every week for your city, and you'll begin to notice patterns. Competing airlines will generally offer last-minute fares on similar routes.
Another way to save on airfare: fly midweek. Outbound flights leaving Fridays through Saturdays are always more expensive since that's when most people travel. Bundling air and hotel is another way to save money. An increasing number of websites are now devoted to offering last-minute vacation packages at low prices. Packages vary widely: weekend or week-long; air-and-hotel, air-and-car, or hotel-and-extras; domestic or international. Try these web sites: www.11thhourvacations.com, www.cheaptickets.com, www.site59.com, www.expedia.com, www.travelocity.com. Try the name-your-own-price sites at www.hotwire.com and www.priceline.com. This is only for the very brave, as customers aren't told some flight details until after they've agreed to purchase.
By allowing their airline partners to maintain anonymity during the purchase process, sites like Hotwire and Priceline can sometimes offer prices that are well below the published prices. This is because airlines need to fill unsold seats but don't want to promote prices that will undercut their own pricing structure. You must be flexible about departure and arrival times, since you won't find out those exact details until after you purchase your ticket. Be sure you won't need to change your itinerary or cancel your trip entirely, as itineraries booked on opaque sites cannot be changed or refunded.
And what about accommodations? There are plenty of off-beat options to cut your costs:
1. Number one on the list is only applicable if you're a military serviceman or veteran. You can stay at military bases around the world for very little money. There are two major categories of military lodging - on-base lodging and Armed Forces Recreation Centers. Go to Military.com to learn more
2. Private homes. If you saw the movie "Holiday," you know that there are web sites that match you up with home swappers around the world. Go to flat-share.com to find an apartment in England, France or Greece.
3. University and college dorm rooms. It's not glamorous or spacious, but it's a money-saver. Check with universities in the city you plan to visit to find out more.
4. Farms. Agra-tourism is a growing business, and you can find farms to stay at in Europe (ben'sbauerhof.com) and New Zealand (glenmacfarmstay.com).
5. Campgrounds. This may be your best bet if you have a love of the great outdoors and don't mind sleeping in a tent.
6. Bed and breakfasts. These can be especially cost-effective if you choose one in a smaller town near your destination city.
So jump on your computer and start making your vacation plans today! One of my favorite quote is "travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer".