Budget travelers are a unique breed – they have a tireless dedication to finding the best deals, a keen sense for sniffing out hidden surprises and, usually, a mental database of ways to save money when they’re doing what they love most: traveling.
In light of the economy, almost every American traveler has become a budget traveler. Prices in many destinations are going up and airfares are hitting new highs, but it’s still important to many people to get in a family vacation or a friends’ getaway. For those who are new to the budget travel game, a few tips can come in handy.
* Become your own watchdog. In the past, people went to travel agents who would do all the booking for them. For budget travelers, the cost of going to an agency is often prohibitive and doesn’t always make sense when you can book everything online yourself. Enter different dates and destinations into travel search engines and you can get an idea of how rates vary by season. If you have a specific destination in mind, set up fare alerts that will let you know when ticket prices drop, but keep checking the sites on your own so that you can find the best deals.
* Plan activities ahead of time. If you want to go to a concert or theater performance in a particular destination, start looking early by visiting sites dedicated to that chosen destination. For instance, if you’re headed to Myrtle Beach, the events calendar at www.visitmyrtlebeach.com has a full listing of events and festivals. And while you’re there, you can often find deals on tickets that will let you see the show for a fraction of the price.
* Don’t pay full price. You can often find some of your biggest savings by using coupons – the trick is knowing where to find them. Again, destination-specific websites, like those of convention and visitor’s bureaus (CVB), are particularly useful. For those who want a budget-friendly beach vacation with all the amenities, searching for Myrtle Beach coupons on the destination’s CVB website will turn up coupons for everything from restaurants to shopping to golf.
* Don’t delay. It’s true that you can occasionally find last-minute deals but the early bird really does get the worm when it comes to budget travel. Since it’s often more convenient to travel during high season to popular destinations – there’s a reason it’s high season, after all – getting things organized ahead of time will save you money. What’s more, you won’t be disappointed by your favorite hotel being booked up.