It's nearly time for a vacation, a break from hectic school and work schedules. But it doesn't look as if we're going to get a break on...
It’s nearly time for a vacation, a break from hectic school and work schedules. But it doesn’t look as if we’re going to get a break on our travel budgets.
Some amusement parks and resorts are offering standard early-bird discounts and season passes, but there are no signs of any real cuts to help offset soaring gas prices.
“It’s still business as usual,” said Darcy Grimes, of the AAA motor club. “I think the majority of vacation providers think the family vacation is still recession-proof.”
This means, to save money, you should put a lot of thought into planning your vacation. Here are some suggestions:
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• Start early. In the past, the penalty for making reservations late was paying a premium price. Now with the airline industry in such turbulence, you might not get a seat if you book at the last minute.
• Shop around. It’s easy to make one call to a travel agency. But you might save money if you comparison-shop online. If you find a deal that’s better, ask whether your agency will match or beat it.
• Look for discounts on admission fees. Your company’s human-resources department might offer deals for specific theme parks. Also try local grocers, travel magazines, travel guidebooks and Web sites. Don’t forget your credit-card company and membership groups.
• Always compare the season pass with the one-day admission fee, even if you think you will go only once.
• Also consider the cost of Internet access and cellphone roaming charges. Many hotels charge $10 to $25 a day for Internet access, so if you must go online, see whether there’s a nearby library that has public computers. And instead of cellphones, consider calling cards.
• Bring your own snacks and beverages, and try to stay away from the minibar. If you forget shampoo, toothpaste or the like, remember that some hotels offer such items for free.
• Avoid renting a car. In addition to the rental cost, many hotels charge a hefty parking fee. Use public transportation — subways, buses and trains — instead. And ask about free hotel shuttle service.