Posted by: Jerry Garrett | January 8, 2010

Five More Ways to Cut 2010 Travel Costs

Got the yen to get away in 2010? Do it affordably with ideas below. (Jerry Garrett Photo)

In The New York Times Travel section on January 8, 2010, the practical traveler Michelle Higgins suggests 10 ways to cut your travel costs in the year ahead. They are all good suggestions, and well worth reading and remembering.

But no list is ever complete, is it?

So let’s add to her list of 10 with a few more ways to out-smart the high costs of travel:

11.  Join airline travel clubs. Spirit Airlines may not be my first choice for air travel, but I could learn to love them more through their $9 Travel Club. It costs $39.95 a year to join, but this one is used by stewardesses, travel agents and other travel professionals in the know. Spirit may not fly everywhere you want to go, but they will take club members all over places like Central America and the Caribbean for next to nothing. Also recommended: Ryan Air, EasyJet and Virgin. Be flexible. Plan ahead.

12. Float, instead of being land-locked. Consider a cruise as an alternative to high-priced land-based hotels. This is especially true these days in popular tourism markets such as Florida, the Caribbean, and the Mediterranean. Hundreds of cruises are available at prices way under comparable land-based hotel properties. Plus, a cruise comes with amenities hotels can’t touch – such as unlimited food. Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, MSC, Costa, Holland America, Norwegian and even EasyCruise (affiliated with EasyJet – see above) are good bets. But even the upmarket brands such as Celebrity and Azamara have some surprisingly appealing discounts.

13. Check out VRBO. Staying a week or longer? The website www.vrbo.com is a must-visit. Zillions of listings are available for perusal of “vacation rentals by owner”. VRBO is especially strong in the U.S. but there are plenty of overseas destinations that are extremely well-represented. We found a week in a restored 18th century villa overlooking the Isle of Capri for $500 U.S.

14. Join car rental frequent renter clubs. The Hertz #1 Club is a reliable source of discounts on car rentals for members. If you are also member of an airline frequent flyer club, additional discounts may be yours. For some reason, Hertz allows Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards frequent flyer members a particularly fat discount. Besides, if you are a club member, you are more likely to receive complimentary upgrades, the best cars available, and faster service.

14. Join AAA (membership varies by regional club; usually less than $50 for individuals). The Automobile Association of America card is good for 10-20 percent discounts – and more – in a surprising number of areas. Most hotels seem to have AAA rates that they will honor even during the busiest times. AAA members also get discounts on tickets to many attractions, shows and amusement parks. Of course, they also provide free maps and route guidance to members, as well as their signature roadside assistance if you run out of gas, puncture a tire, or have a dead battery.

15. Over 50? Join AARP ($16 annually). If you can survive the avalanche of AARP junk mail you’ll get after joining, and the stigma of “being old”, just about any place will give you a “senior discount”, just by flashing them your AARP card.

For tips on how to avoid having your airfares inflated by airlines’ increasing push to make you check your carry-on luggage, check out my column on that subject. Any more suggestions? Please feel free to add your own.

Jerry Garrett

January 8, 2010

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