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BEFORE YOU CRUISE

5 Tips to Travel on a Budget

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IMG_2892With the economic climate everyone is looking for ways to make their dollar stretch a little further. While the deals are plentiful — it’s knowing how and when to find them — to make your trip a success.

Here are some tips to help you travel on a budget:

1. Travel on the shoulder season. What is should season? It’s the travel times just before or following the madness of summer vacation, winter or spring break. It can also be said that should season is just before the crazy weather times of say hurricane season in the Caribbean. You can get lower rates if you look to travel at these times. A good rule of thumb is if the kids are in school, you’re going to save.

2. Fly on off-peak days. Tuesday and Wednesday are historically the cheapest and lightest load days to fly. However, that doesn’t mean that you’ll find a rock bottom ticket on these days. Set alerts on websites such as kayak or your airline to know. Southwest is a good airline to set alerts for because they have the DING fares that go right to your email, desktop or smartphone. The further out you are, the better.

3. Go pre-paid. Since traveling is all about getting the most out of your dollar, you may consider pre-paying everything before you go. A good idea is to use sites like Hotwire or Priceline where you pre-pay your hotel stay and just need a debit card for incidentals when you check-in. This allows you to purchase your hotel long before you jet off to your destination.

4. Use cheat sites. Yes, they are perfectly legal. One of my favorite cheat sites when booking travel is BetterBidding.com. BetterBidding is a site the reveals what hotel rooms are on Priceline and Hotwire – that you wouldn’t know otherwise. The way it works is that members book rooms and reveal what they received on their bid. You can also sign up and ask questions and post – chances are someone will know what property you have your eyes on. Another site is BiddingForTravel.com.

5. Think big picture. Don’t feel like you’re obligated to use the cruise line’s shore excursions or the hotel’s recommendations for dinner. Use tools like Trip Advisor to learn the city and what there is to do. Yelp or Urban Spoon for find local eats. Use Viator or Shore Excursions Group to scout out discount excursions and tours where you head. Finally, use sites like Cruise Critic to help you get answers to questions that may have about cruises or FlyerTalk about airline travel. There are forums out there for every type of travel.

These tips are just a start. Remember that just because it’s cheaper to fly on a Tuesday, it’s not always smart to go on the cheaper date if the hotel will eat up the savings. Calculate your food, lodging, air and entertainment and go from there. Have fun with planning, that’s what it’s all about. Happy travels!

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