Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Way to Make It Pay

If you travel often, you know that there is always a better deal to be had out there. Lately I have noticed a couple of trends that I thought I would share with you, my lovely readers:
  1. Go to the source. While I still love sites like Kayak.com, the best deals are often found on the direct airline or hotel's website. Sometimes if you call a hotel directly they will give you and even better deal. It costs them to compete on the Expedia's of the world and that is passed onto you.
  2. Be a Grandma. I feel a little weird booking a nice hotel using a AAA/AARP discount but hey, that's what it's there for. I diligently pay my annual membership to AAA and since Brian's van died a few years back we haven't gotten much in the way of value out of it (besides peace of mind of course).
  3. Book now! With global instability and gas prices fluctuating like crazy, decent prices are becoming harder to find. Fees are all over the place as airlines are trying to make up for losses from another slow year so as travelers start thinking of summer rates rise too. If you find a fare you can stomach, pull the trigger.
  4. Be reasonable. This is for myself, perhaps more than you, but sometimes adjusting your expectations is necessary. As I had blogged at the beginning of the new year, I want to take Brian to Sedona for our 10 year anniversary. As I looked at the budget, that now includes paying for grad school out of pocket, I realized that it is just not practical to stay at the hotel I wanted to book that costs three times as much as another very nice looking alternative. So I just booked the cheaper one. We'll have the same view and as Brian pointed out tonight - having a really nice hotel room in Hawaii didn't change the fact that he was sick the whole time.
  5. Use them. If you hoard frequent flier miles with dreams of one day flying the world - good luck to you. I seriously think airlines track the average balances of customers and when you are at the right level - BAM! - new guidelines for free tickets. Even you Southwest (I was one credit away)! If you see a flight you can use a free ticket for now, I would say to use it. I have rarely regretted using them, even for cheap tickets, because I knew it was better to get something for free than nothing.
  6. Drive it. Both Brian and I took a lot of road trips as kids and sometimes when you have the itch to go somewhere, but are broke, driving can be a lot cheaper. Living in Kansas City, we are lucky to be close to a lot of great places in a half to full day of driving easy. Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis, Colorado. If you don't have a lot of money consider your ride - or even better, taking a friend who can split the gas.
So, that's my rant for the evening. I was booking our trip to Sedona and thought I would share some of my thoughts. Also, very exciting news for *The Streak - I am now booked to reach 36 months (with trips through August).

*The streak is the number of consecutive months I have traveled without a break in between. This is where the addiction comes in. I know I will have to break it someday and that some people think I might have a problem, but I think I have it under control. Although when I went to Maine in December, I called my mom to tell her that I was coming for her birthday and she said, "I knew you were going to call and tell me that because you had no trips planned for December." Hmm...they're on to me...

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