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#217874 - 09/27/12 08:24 PM Saving Money When Travelling
Anne Holmes Administrator Offline
Boomer in Chief

Registered: 03/12/10
Posts: 3182
Loc: Illinois
I don't know about you, but everything always costs more than I think it will when I travel... For example, I love cruising, but even though cruises are billed as "all-inclusive," and meals and much on-board entertainment is included, they still find dozens of ways to "ding" you, like the ship photographer, for example. Or the special wine with dinner -- or all those wonderful shore excursions you can book once you get on board...

I mean, what's the point of going to Alaska if you don't get off the ship and experience the communities, right? (Well waking up and looking at a glacier out your window is pretty cool, I admit.)

But that sea kayak trip, or the helicopter ride to see and walk on the glaciers, or the day trip on the narrow gauge train are NOT included.

And even if you just walk off the ship and toddle around town on foot, the local merchants are "gunning" for you.

Steve and I managed to keep our on-shore adventures -- and expenses -- under control, (and the helo ride to see and walk on the glacier is to die for - don't miss it!) but we could have spent thousands on stuff like full length fur coats, if we'd been interested...

So I thought I'd share this article from Kiplinger that offers links and descriptions for 23 sites designed to help you save on on airfare and lodging.

Some of them I'd heard of, like Kayak and Priceline, but others were new to me.
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#217912 - 10/01/12 11:27 PM For first timers
Di Offline
Member

Registered: 11/15/05
Posts: 2798
Loc: NM, transplant from NJ
If you've travelled a lot, what is best? Taking a guided tour? Unguided? Just "wing it"......

How do you go about getting the best rates for air, hotel etc?

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#217913 - 10/02/12 12:32 AM Re: For first timers [Re: Di]
yonuh Offline
Member

Registered: 06/14/06
Posts: 2447
Loc: Arizona
I don't travel much, but I would want to get a guidebook and go to the places that interested me. As for the best rates, there are several options: get a travel agent, research on the web - there are sites like Expedia, Travelocity, and others, where you can compare rates. Most of those sites will quote you a price for a package with air, car, and hotel. Then there are hotel sites with comparisons, though I can't think of any at the moment. If you do a search for travel or travel deals, or something like that, you'll find more sites than you probably want to look at. Just make sure that the sites are reputable, check "name of site" reviews.
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#217915 - 10/02/12 01:37 AM Re: For first timers [Re: yonuh]
Eagle Heart Offline
Member

Registered: 03/22/05
Posts: 4876
Loc: Canada
We've been traveling a lot in the past few years. For overseas trips, we've been taking organized tours...the primary reasons for that are 1) so hubby can see everything too, which he wouldn't be able to if he was driving; 2) so we never have to worry about parking, which is a huge problem in many European cities; and 3) so we get to see all the best sites/museums/etc...because if we had to pay for each one, we'd never go to any of them, because hubby hates paying for stuff (but when it's included in the overall tour price, he doesn't notice it). We've really enjoyed every tour we've been on so far. What I like about the tours is that they give you an overview, and then if there are things you want to go back and see more of, you know which ones to pick, and know a bit more about getting around. For example, we'd both like to go back and spend some time just site-seeing around Rome. It was included in our tour of Italy, but we didn't see enough, so that's one place we'd enjoy going back to and meandering about on our own.

We have a wonderful travel agent in Quebec City that we use...even though we live in Ottawa (a four-hour drive away). Her prices are the best and we get to customize everything to the way we want it, which isn't always easy to do with the online sites.

We HAVE booked hotels online, using Expedia, Travelocity, etc. The one problem we've encountered with using online sites is that once you're in the hotel and realize you don't like it, you're stuck, because you've paid Expedia, not the hotel, and the hotel will not refund your money or accept cancellations for subsequent nights. However, having said that, you have to watch. We recently booked a hotel in southern Ontario...if we had booked directly with the hotel, it would have been non-refundable as soon as we paid for it (which was immediately upon booking). So, since we weren't sure of our plans, we booked through Expedia which allowed us to cancel right up until 6pm the night before. You have to be careful to read the terms of your reservation.

The other thing we watch for are freebies, like Wi-fi, free breakfast, newspapers, etc.

We use Trip Advisor all the time to check reviews of hotels, tour groups, restaurants, general info on any city, etc. In our experience it's the best collection and most reliable place to find the most honest, word-of-mouth reviews. We've stayed in places which had some bad reviews and had wonderful experiences though, so it's not always an accurate accounting of a place. But you go by the averages...if lots of people say the same basic thing, you can pretty much be sure that that's the way it is.

When we're traveling overseas to someplace we've never been before, we never "wing" it, though we would definitely do that on a subsequent visit. Hotels can be very expensive and hard to come by in peak season, and when you have a different language to contend with, it's just easier to have the travel agent make the arrangements for that first visit.

I have to say, we love tours. We're heading out for a 3-week organized tour of China soon, and are very impressed with the organization and itinerary - and the price! It was cheaper to go to China (everything, including all meals, tips and even internal domestic flights) for 3 weeks than it was to go on the 10-day tour to Europe that we'd had our eye on. We heard of that one by word-of-mouth.

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#217916 - 10/02/12 02:57 AM Re: For first timers [Re: Di]
orchid Offline


Registered: 01/21/07
Posts: 3675
Loc: British Columbia, Canada
I think it depends where you're going (in North America) vs. overseas.

I have no hesitation to travel on my own in any major North American city.. which I have done it solo. Of course, it's easier when you have a travel companion, like my partner.

Overseas, if the major city has a subway system and you know even a little about the city, I would go on my own. Because I've lived in large cities (over 1 million people) for past few decades, with light rapid train system/ subway. Just allow myself more time to get around. We went travelling around Paris on our own, using the Metro.

Tours help condense the experience. I've been on 1 group tour for 10 days..in 10 countries. That was enough for us. With relief then I travelled with my sister in Belgium, Netherlands and Paris on our own for 14 days. Thank goodness.

Do your research, be not afraid of exploring abit. Just keep belongings hidden.

Any questions for Canada, there's 2 of us to answer you. smile The chain hotels worldwide frequently offer free breakfast, wi-fi, etc. Some offer senior's rates. Local b 'n b's are ok in smalll doses you want one where owners speak some English.

I get up to minute specials on Air Canada flights because cusotmers on their webmail alerts are notified of the deals that are only effective for purchase online. Make sure it's directly from the airline and read the conditions.

What areas of the world are you considering, Di?




Edited by orchid (10/02/12 03:01 AM)
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#217917 - 10/02/12 01:55 PM Re: For first timers [Re: orchid]
Di Offline
Member

Registered: 11/15/05
Posts: 2798
Loc: NM, transplant from NJ
Nowhere in particular, really. We can never do a trip such as what you all mention. Just a curious thing is all. Although ever since the 5th grade, I've been fascinated with fjords in Norway. Never forgot that!

DH wants to go to Guadalcanal to take the steps of his uncle who died in 1944. But very expensive...so, just a dream.

Thanks for all the info.

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#217923 - 10/02/12 07:31 PM Re: For first timers [Re: Di]
Anne Holmes Administrator Offline
Boomer in Chief

Registered: 03/12/10
Posts: 3182
Loc: Illinois
Hi Di, I'm with you -- I'd love to see the fjords. My Dad is half Norwegian, and one of my step-mothers was a Norwegian native.

He's been there many times, and years ago offered to take each of us kids with our spouses when we were ready to go. So far, none of us have had the time and money available simultaneously, so none of us have taken him up on the offer.

Guess we should soon, before it is too late....
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