Cheap Travel Ideas
By Art Robinson, Contributing Editor
Cheap Travel Ideas For Better Trips
Ready to get out of town but worried you can’t afford it? Sometimes all it takes is thinking outside the box to realize that there are ways to get where you want to be without paying through the nose for the chance. Below are just a few cheap travel ideas to get the trip of your dreams, without the price tag that has stopped you in the past.
Book a Last-Minute Cruise
Cruises are normally very expensive, with a 5 day Caribbean cruise costing over $600 USD. But if you’re the last passenger running onto that ship, you can get a sweet bargain. Cruise lines always offer incredible last-minute deals.
Plus, cruise operators always throw in some on-board amenities, free upgrades, and cash vouchers to sweeten the deal.
And now, because of the Costa Concordia cruise disaster, travelers are beginning to rethink their trips and cancel so cruise lines want to make sure people keep booking. There will be a lot of good deals right now.
You can go on a cruise for as little as $30 a day.
Think Outside The Box
Forget Mexico and go to Guatemala. Skip Paris and head to Budapest. Forget Italy and see Greece (it’s really cheap!). Ditch Brazil and see Bolivia. The list goes on and on. Travel counter to the prevailing trend. Zig when everyone zags. If people are going in the summer, you go in the spring or winter. Skip the popular destinations and head off the beaten path a bit.
Contrarian travel will save you a bundle of money. It’s like reverse commuting. Whenever one heads into the city in the morning for work and is stuck in traffic, you breeze the opposite way hassle free. The same is true for travel. Flights to Europe in the summer can cost over $1,000 dollars. In the winter? Half that. It might not be the most ideal time to go or your favorite destination, but thinking of places off the beaten path and visiting in the off season is going to save you a lot of money.
Book a Last-Minute Tour
Just like cruises, tours are best booked last-minute. Tour companies need to fill the seats just like cruise companies because once that trip departs, they still have the same costs. Last-minute tour bookings work the same way as cruise bookings.
Why are tours and cruises so cheap last-minute? Well, think about how people plan vacations. People are predisposed to planning. You get the time off work, you book your vacation, you buy your flight, and you go. Since people pre-book, prices are higher in advance because these companies understand booking patterns and then price accordingly. Hardly anyone wakes up and says “Today, I’m going on a cruise.” So as departure time nears, companies know people aren’t likely to turn up and book on departure day so they sweeten the point to increase bookings. So take the time off work, wait until the week before, see what’s cheap, and then go.
– via Nomadic Matt’s Travel Site
Secrets For Great Trips On A Budget
In the world of affordable but exciting travel, especially in Europe, everyone agrees that Rick Steves is the guy to know. He has been just about everywhere and always has great advice for anyone who wants to travel without breaking the bank.
Family-run businesses offer the best values because they employ family members to get around Europe’s costly labor regulations. In mom-and-pop shops you’re more likely to be served by people who care about their reputation and their customers.
Picnics save money. Ten dollars buy a fine picnic lunch for two anywhere in Europe. Stock your hotel room with drinks and munchies upon arrival. You can pass train rides enjoyably over a picnic meal. Many grocery stores have elegant deli sections. Know the metric system for buying produce. In Italy 100 grams (about a quarter pound) is a unit in itself called an etto.
Eat with the season. Germans go crazy for the white asparagus. Italians lap up the porcini mushrooms. And Spaniards gobble their snails (caracoles) — but only when waiters announce that they’re fresh today. You’ll get more taste for less money throughout Europe by ordering what’s in season.
Use a guidebook. Guidebooks are $20 tools for $3,000 experiences. Saving money by not buying one is penny-wise and pound-foolish. An up-to-date guidebook pays for itself on your first day in Europe.
Use ATMs rather than travelers checks. You’ll get your cash cheaper and faster. While ATMs give the best possible rates, they do come with transaction fees. Minimize these fees by making fewer and larger withdrawals. Store the cash safely in your money belt.
Stay in touch cheaply by dialing direct. International phone cards with PIN numbers are sold at newsstands throughout Europe. They offer calls to the US for ten cents a minute — a huge savings over the $3/minute rates offered by the big American services.
Adapt to European tastes. Cultural chameleons drink tea in England, beer in Prague, red wine in France, and white wine on the Rhine. They eat fish in Portugal and reindeer in Norway. Going with the local specialties gets you the best quality and service for the best price.
Look for consolidator tickets for overseas flights. Consolidator or “discount” air tickets are perfectly legitimate. By putting up with a few minor drawbacks (no changes allowed and no frequent flier miles given) you can save hundreds of dollars. Student agencies are not limited to students and offer some great airfares.
Don’t let frequent flier miles cloud your judgment. Choose a plane ticket, car rental, hotel or tour according to the best value for your trip, not in hopes of scoring a few extra miles.
Know your railpass options. Railpasses can offer big savings — if you’re traveling a lot. For short trips, point-to-point tickets are cheaper.
Groups save by driving. Four people sharing a car generally travel much cheaper than four individuals buying four railpasses. And don’t worry about gas costs. Even at $6 a gallon, you’ll find cars get great mileage and distances between sights are short. A single two-hour train ticket can cost you the price of a full tank of gas.
Park carefully. Thieves recognize and target tourist cars. Judge the safety of a lot by how it twinkles. Broken glass means thieves like this spot. Paying to park in a garage with an attendant can be a good investment.
When changing cash, avoid exchange bureaus that don’t show both the buying and selling rate. By seeing both rates you can derive the profit margin — which should be within 5 percent. Places showing only the selling rate are hiding something… an obscene profit margin.
– via www.ricksteves.com
What’s your favorite few cheap travel ideas?
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