By Christina VanGinkel
When it comes to travel these days, nothing is a given anymore. Take for example the cost of a rental vehicle. In the past, economy sized vehicles could be rented for less than an SUV. With the soaring price of gasoline, economy sized vehicles are a hot commodity and can often be found renting for more than the use-to-be expensive to rent SUV models. When consumers add in the price of gasoline, they figure they will come out ahead paying more upfront on the economy car when they figure back in the gasoline costs, especially if they are going to be putting on any amount of miles.
People are concerned about the cost of travel, and yet who wants to give up their vacation just to save a few dollars. Instead, people are trying to save money on the vacation itself, searching out the bargains. Some of the best of the bargains out there are often found through the most incongruous ways imaginable, but they can really add up, making it possible to still go on that vacation of your dreams and enjoy yourself while vacationing, and not worrying constantly about what every little thing is going to cost.
Look for hotels offering deals that are not as far off the beaten track as one you might typically choose. Again, with gasoline costs so prominent, the added cost of getting to and from far off destinations and then driving from them to any tourist attractions can quickly add up. For example, if you would normally book your stay at a hotel on the outskirts of a city, but had plans to travel into the city itself to go to a show, maybe a museum, even for dinner each evening, you might have noticeable savings by staying in a hotel downtown and saving on the cost of travel each day.
If you belong to any sort of association, group, or organization, now is as good as time as any, to read the fine print of what benefits might be available to you as a member. It is so easy to overlook deals such as these because we do not often pay attention to them, figuring they take too many hoops to jump though to use them, though most of the time, it is as simple as giving the hotel your membership number to reap savings. Some hotels also offer their own discounts by allowing customers to sign up for membership in their own clubs, favoring repeat stays with deep discounts and even free nights.
If you have always dreamed of traveling to a foreign destination, or even to a popular tourist attraction within the country, but it suddenly seems like the cost will never again be within reach, take a look at what it would cost to go there as part of a group. Group travel has many opportunities for cost savings. Traveling together allows the cost of reaching the destination to be less than if you went solo, as well as the hotel stay itself. Even tickets to go into places of interest and food are often less because of the advantage of the group organizer being able to secure better deals. While group travel is definitely not for everyone, it is worth considering if it means making your dream come true and just letting it be a dream.
Travel frauds and scams are out there, and if a price on something seems too good to be true, like the saying goes, it probably is. Keep your money in your pocket and do not pay for savings that will most likely never be realized. Deal with reputable companies only, and whenever possible deal directly with whoever or wherever the money is ultimately going to end up. For example, if a travel agency has been in your community for the past ten years, your odds are good that they are legitimate. If a travel agency just hung their shingle, while I realize every new place needs it first customers, it is best to start small and not be booking the vacation of a lifetime with them. I recall one company not far from where I live that opened that supposedly dealt with cruise specials. They booked a couple dozen cruises for people that all were real, then continued to book a large number for a group trip to Greece. By the time, the customers were ready to travel; the company had closed up shop and with the closing went the customers’ money. The cruise was a fraud, and many people were out a lot of money.