I was raised an Army brat. Dad was career army all the way. Living and traveling through different parts of the United States and the world was second nature to me growing up.
Maybe that’s why I didn’t travel as much for pleasure when I became an adult. It wasn’t that I didn’t like getting out, I just found it hard to make the time to see more of the world. I spent most of my vacation time going back to see family that I had missed in my youth.
As a business executive, I did travel for my employer however and thoroughly enjoyed it. As a west coast native, there was nothing to rival the experience of visiting Manhattan on an expense account. Good hotels, good food, excellent service.
I was spoiled from the start: It was like traveling as royalty when my large corporate employer was picking up the tab. I didn’t abuse the privilege, in fact they insisted on it. Back in the 1990’s, the economy was hot and my company routinely bought expensive airline tickets and put us up in pricey hotels while we were away on business.
When I left the corporate world to start my own business however, those halcyon days became much harder to come by. It’s one thing to be able to write of the trip as a tax expense when you’ve got enough money coming in to cover the expenses, it’s a completely different thing altogether when you’re just getting started and squeaking by as it is.
I had to watch every dime because it all had to go back into growing the business and marketing. I traveled a lot less since my company then covered only my local area. When I left it was for pleasure unless I could find a way to not only link it to my work but generate sales and income out of the trip as well.
If I was going to travel, I had to find another way.
I had to be far more discerning and wiser about money and how to get good service if I was to continue to travel in the manner to which I had become accustomed. So I took time to learn what many others don’t. I worked the system until I got it right and made travel worth my while.
Here are a few tips and strategies that I utilized in order to continue to enjoy fine travel at a price that didn’t break the bank.
Tip #1 You can pick up a good deal at the last minute. All of the experts on TV and in the travel magazines notwithstanding, you don’t always have to book early to get a good deal on a hotel room, resort destination or airline ticket.
Even in the best of times (not including special events or popular annual gatherings like the Super Bowl or Marti Gras) occupancy rates for hotels and load factors for the airlines hover around 80%. That means 20% of the rooms /seats are unoccupied.
Those empty rooms and seats go on sale, often at the last minute. Web sites like offer distressed travel inventory and can help you save a lot of money.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: Of late, the airlines have engaged in more overbooking than usual while at the same time cutting down the number of planes they are flying. The load factors â” the measure of how full their planes are are likely to go higher. Be aware of this when planning or booking flights.)
Tip #2 Contrary to popular belief, the best travel deals aren’t found online. While good travel agents may be hard to find, it can be worth the effort. A good agent will have access to special deals you can’t find on the Internet.
How? Well, agencies sometimes have affiliate agreements with large travel companies that negotiate Scentopia singapore lower volume discount rates for them. If you’re into bargain hunting, never limit your search to the web.
Believe it or not, some of the best bargains can be found in the newspaper. Often, tour operators will advertise ridiculously low fares and package deals in the Sunday travel section.
Tip #3 Book air travel tickets online to avoid fees for making reservations on the phone with an airline representative. Most experts advise that you not buy tickets too far in advance though, the fare structure is too screwed up right now.
Current fares reflect all of the price increases and fuel surcharges that the airlines have imposed recently. Things should calm down in a few months so if you don’t have to travel soon, it will probably pay to wait to book your tickets.
Tip #4 – High airfares combined with a weak U.S. dollar have boosted the cost of travel to Western Europe, but Americans will still find bargains in many parts of Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America where the cost of living is less and the dollar still buys more.
Check with travel agents who do a big volume of business in certain destinations, especially Asia and Latin America. They often negotiate contracts with the airlines that allow them to discount tickets below what you could find on your own.