Fun for Less – Saving on Travel and More

Where are you going this summer?

Anniversary - 25- Bob and Ellie by Window

National Tourism Day isn’t a well-known holiday, but today happens to be the day we celebrate it. In honor of that – and since summer is almost upon us – now is a good time to start planning your summer vacation. (You don’t want to start planning it when you’re supposed to be taking it, after all!)

This year is particularly good for people who like to save a penny or two on their vacations, as airfare prices are dropping, the economy is rising and deals on cruises are better than ever. Bob and I were even able to afford a stay at the Wrigley mansion on Catalina Island for our 25th anniversary!

Here are a few great ways to save on getaways this summer.

  • TravelZoo – One my personal favorites because of the sheer percentage of savings they offer, TravelZoo rounds up some of the best deals on the web and sends them to you in a weekly e-mail that is customized for your location. You can also browse through their site, which features vacation packages, airfare, hotels, cruises, car rentals and even local deals to restaurants and other places. Today, for example, you can get a 12-night Mediterranean cruise for $799. Another perk for TravelZoo is that the price they list is the price you pay (all fees included). If you’re flexible about when you want to take your vacation, this is one of the best options.
  • Daily deal sites – Sites like Groupon have been particularly good lately thanks to the company’s partnership with Expedia. Simply browse through their “Getaways” section and you’ll vacation packages to places like China, Peru and the Bahamas. The selection has dramatically increased this year and there are even plenty of deals for people who would rather drive somewhere local or don’t have much time off.
  • Cruises – Cruises have gotten a bad rap recently thanks to ships malfunctioning and even leaving vacationers stranded for days on one occasion. That’s good news for those looking to save, however, as companies like Carnival are dropping prices to keep people coming back. You can currently find 3-5 day Caribbean cruises for as low as $229, less than the nightly cost of many higher-end hotels! Those malfunctioning ship incidences were likely anomalies, so it’s a great time to go on that first cruise.
  • Airfare Southwest (subscribe to their Ding! fares) JetBlue, Virgin and other companies are slashing prices due to a variety of reasons, from lower fuel costs to increased seating capacity. Fares are constantly changing, however, so be sure to sign up for price alerts at sites like Kayak or Fly.com. (By phone is the most ideal if you’re looking for a really great deal.) Also be sure to search on Tuesdays, the day most airlines announce their sales. You can also usually get refunds or money back if the airline drops the price within a certain time period. Check Bing Price Predictor to see if prices are going up or down.
  • Travel deal sites – When it comes to sites like Kayak, Hotwire.com, BookingBuddy and others, the best advice is to compare, compare, compare. You can usually find the exact same trip for less if you search enough, which is why you should never just use one site. Hotwire is particularly great if you’re not too picky about where you stay or how you travel, as they occasionally hide the companies for better deals. They’re also currently offering up to 70% off weekend hotel stays.

In the end, the more you search for a good deal online, the more you’ll likely save. Be sure to visit all the deal sites you can, and once you find a deal for you, go to the hotel/car/airfare company site or call them to see if they’ll match or beat the deal.

Bon voyage!

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert (R)

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