It Came From the Chat: Summer Savings Tips, Part 2
You know what I love about our Monday chats? Every week, the participants share travel tips and information with each other. There are usually four or more Travel staffers answering questions, and we can usually answer questions authoritatively and at a rapid-fire pace. But sometimes what the chatters themselves advise can be more useful, timely and creative, and I'm always exhilarated after our chats, thrilled to have such a reliable cadre of travelers out there on Monday afternoons.
Yesterday, Scott Vogel asked for more thoughts about how to save on summer travel, and here were some of the responses:
Summer Vacation: My plan for a cheaper vacation is two-fold. First, I tend to take any trips during the spring, when there's less tourists anyway and so prices are lower. Second, I am planning for each of my (divorced) parents to visit me at different times. I'll take a few days off work to keep them company as they hit the sites and, inevitably, they'll pay for most of the food and any entry fees (eg Newseum, hopefully!) The only thing I usually pay for is Metro (which can add up, if they stay far outside the city). And while I use my Smartrip card, to make the "vacation" even more authentic, I stand on the left on the escalators and am in the first one in an arriving Metro car!
Frugal Travel: A couple suggestions for cutting down travel costs - ASK FOR IT
Get what you want -- from a more relaxing day to more soda on the plane -- simply by asking for it. At hotels, I always request a ridiculously late check-out time of 4 or 5 p.m. That way, I can enjoy a day of exploring then come back to take a shower or simply catch a blast of A/C in bed. The front desk often compromises and offers 2 or 3 p.m. -- still much better than the way-too-early listed checkout times. This goes double if you're staying at one of the increasingly popular all-inclusive resorts. To get your money's worth, arrive at the crack of dawn for breakfast, or at least before noon, and stick around on your last day for evening cocktails. Finally, request cans on the plane, not just that tiny portion they pour over ice. You just paid $400 for your ticket; they can afford to give you a full 12 ounces.
Cheap Travel - Georgetown: Cook your own food -- or fill up at the bar.
While you'll generally pay more for a hotel room with a kitchen, it can end up saving you big bucks. How? Just prepare your own meals -- or buy takeout and eat it in the room. (A bagel at Publix will cost you 50 cents -- at your hotel coffee shop, it's two bucks.) Also, look for hotels that offer a free breakfast bar -- and don't be shy about grabbing a couple of extra pieces of fruit or boxes of cereal for snacks later. And speaking of bars, always stop by the hospitality center at SeaWorld -- it's where they serve free samples of beer to guests (limit two glasses per person).
Backyard vacation: Especially in the DC Metro area, there are a ton of places to go that are great escapes and won't break a bank. Personally, I've used the suggestions in the Post's own "Trips on a Tank" section and had some great mini-vacations -- Berkeley Springs, WV was a memorable and exceedingly affordable one. Harper's Ferry is also a great escape, as is Mt. Vernon, the Eastern Shore, Charlottesville... even hopping a regional rail and hitting Baltimore for the weekend would be a great vacation without a huge strain on the pocketbook.
Central Calif.: When times are tough, think backwards. There was a time most of us hand to take budget vacations. And I'll bet the memories are still with you.
It might not be the same, but revisiting places and methods from the past might get you over this bump in the travel trail.
I know I have discovered areas close to home that just weren't cool enough when I was younger.
But when the going gets tough, the tough go camping. If you don't have gear, borrow some. You can get outfitted very nicely for about the price of 2 nights in a motel. And tents, sleeping bags, etc. are much more user friendly. I still enjoy a great campsite at a national or state park, with guided trail walks and nature programs at night. It ain't the Caribbean, but it can be very memorable. But let's pray together. This too shall pass...
Cheaper lodging: It's not just true of "summer" travel, but good for all travel -- consider eschewing hotels in favor of renting apartment style units. It's most helpful if you're not a solo traveller (but then, most travelling is more helpful if you're not a solo traveller), but you can rent an entire apartment suite, complete with several bedrooms/bathrooms and a kitchen, for less than it would cost to rent out an equivalent amount of space at a hotel chain. As mentioned earlier, too, those kitchens can also help you cut down on cost. I've used VRBO.com for my European trips with much success.
And the winner of the chat prize this week offered this tip:
My husband's idea of cutting costs when traveling: They call it a condiment bar. He calls it a salad bar.
At a handful of theme-park restaurants -- most notably, the Backlot Express at Disney-MGM Studios -- there's a condiment bar that allows you to top off your burger to your heart's content. One day, when dear husband was turning his grilled chopmeat into a Dagwood delight, he took stock of all the offerings - lettuce, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, jalapenos, cheese sauce, etc. -- and the thought suddenly occurred: "This isn't a condiment bar -- it's a salad bar!" Now, he orders a soda and asks for an extra plate with my burger, and soon he's chowing down with the rest of the crowd. Who says there's no such thing as a free lunch?
So, what do you think? Think you've got a tip to beat those ones? Let's hear 'em!
By Christina Talcott |
May 13, 2008; 2:13 PM ET
Travel Survival Tips
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