2009 Top Five Money Saving Travel Secrets in Any Economy

September 2009:

Emily Kaufman, The Travel Mom

Most people don’t know that we’re coming into one of the traditionally least expensive times of the year to travel in a good economy known as the shoulder season but the recession is creating travel deals bigger and better than ever. Hotels, airlines and tour operators hurting for business have lowered rates, cut fares and added extra values to entice travelers and it’s worked.  The travel industry grew one trillion dollars last year in a down economy as those who love to travel have been taking advantage of the travel deals.  But in any economy, insiders like The Travel Mom, Emily Kaufman, have secrets that every day travelers don’t.  Here are the top five.

TIP # 1 – Travel in the Off Season

Ft. Lauderdale Beach

Traveling in the off-season has been an insider secret for decades. When you travel off-season (or shoulder season), you can avoid long lines, crowds and higher prices. Try the Caribbean or Florida in the fall instead of winter. Now is also a great time to take advantage of the lowest airfares of the year, plus great deals and packages at top beachfront hotels and resorts.  For example, you can experience Luxury for Less in Greater Fort Lauderdale during September, October and November with three great programs.  Lauderdale Spa Chic allows you to relax and pamper yourself at top spas with $99 treatments and Dine Out Lauderdale offers special $35 three-course prix fixe menus from the best restaurants. If you’re taking a cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale, make sure you plan a couple of extra days to take advantage of their “Cruise & Play” program with special offers for hotel packages and discounts at attractions and restaurants.  Don’t forget to take time to enjoy some of the gorgeous 23-miles of Blue Wave beaches and go to sunny.org for more information.

TIP #2 – Go Where the Dollar Takes Your Further

You need to travel where the U.S. dollar has the most punch and combine that with some of the travel savings programs out there so you can really stretch your travel dollars.  Here’s what we’re talking about.  American Express just launched a program called Destination Family that specifically provides family-tailored travel benefits and offers for its Cardmembers.  This program offers all kinds of benefits from kids stay and/or eat free offers to 50% off of a second hotel room to free car seats when you rent a car.  The offers are available at some of the best travel brands out there like Hyatt Hotels, Royal Caribbean, Avis Car Rentals, and many more.  Cardmembers can take advantage of the program by going to americanexpress.com/familytravel where you can also find travel agents that specialize in arranging and customizing family vacations.

TIP #3- Get More Bang for Your Buck When You Live Like a Local

A great insider tip to saving money is to “live like a local” and avoid tourist traps by eating at neighborhood restaurants where the locals eat.  Just go up to someone on the street and ask them to recommend a restaurant with a local flavor.  A great place to do this is Baltimore since it’s a very walkable city and it’s easy to get to by plane, train, or car for a great fall getaway.  Before you go, you’ll want to download coupons for local attractions, restaurants and hotels at baltimore.org where you can also find great hotel deals and packages  Also, October feaures Free Fall Baltimore where you’ll find 300 free arts and cultural activities in the city including free admission to museums like BMA. Now for something really unique, you don’t want to miss the 200th Anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday with actor John Astin’s re-enactment of Poe’s funeral complete with a candlelight vigil.

TIP #4- Don’t Book Your Flight Too Far in Advance

The best time to start comparison shopping for flights is about 45 to 60 days before you would like to travel. You may not know that airline computers are intentionally set up not to give you a deal outside that time frame because they are looking at the law of supply and demand.  However, with airlines cutting back on flight schedules, don’t wait too long to book your ticket or you could get locked out of travel dates even in an off-season.

TIP #5Carry a First Aid Kit with OTC Products

Don’t let your health or your budget get derailed when you travel.  Many people don’t think to pack a small first aid kit when they travel and a vacation can be ruined with headaches, allergies, sunburn, upset stomach, motion sickness, a cold or worse. You need to bring a simple kit to ensure that if you do get sick, you have what you need to treat your symptoms and still enjoy your trip.  This is especially important if you’re traveling internationally as many of the products you can get over the counter in the U.S. are not available in foreign countries and it’s difficult understanding labels in a language you don’t speak (if not impossible).

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