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Travelling on a budget

26 Nov 2009

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With the recession in full swing, it’s hard to cut all the things in your life that are considered “luxuries”. One of the first things to go is the travel income, even though many of us enjoy getting out of the city every once and a while, have family that don’t live close by, or just want to experience something new. Don’t fret! Travelling is still available on a budget. Here are a few tips to get the most for your money when looking for vacations.

Be Flexible

Are you able to travel outside of peak times? The best travel deals are found when the majority of people are NOT travelling. If you don’t have to travel during holidays, then you’re already ahead of the game.

If you are looking at flights, the best days to travel are always Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays – most airlines have seat sales for departures on these days.

Last-Minute Is Good

The best prices are usually found for last-minute offers, especially for packaged vacations to the Caribbean when departing from Canada. This is the only time that procrastination is a good thing. Many people book their vacation time in advance, but don’t actually book the trip until the week(s) before departing, which can save you hundreds of dollars off the regular price. Many airlines also have web specials online that can feature travel for this or next weekend only.

Tour Guide vs. On Your Own

A lot of tour operators provide amazing packages to Asia, Africa and South America but they are often over-priced due to the packaging for you. If you don’t mind booking all the airfare, hotels and tours on your own, then you can potentially save a lot of money. Many tour inclusions are available online – but make sure that they are credible. Legitimate websites have accreditations or at least ensure a secure website when booking (or at least have a telephone number visible on their booking page). If you are not sure, there are many web sites that have reviews on everything related to travel.

Use Online Travel Agencies

Online travel agencies such as Expedia and Travelocity are excellent resources to figure out how much it costs to go somewhere. Whenever I’m looking for really great prices on airfare, I go onto Travelocity and use their “Flexible Fares Finder”. It gives a really good indication on when flights depart, what months the fares are on for, and what airline they are on. This tool is especially good to use when booking a flight that is not a typical destination. For example, when I booked my flight to Zambia, I used Travelocity to find out when the best flights were available, especially since I was travelling through the holiday season. I found out that if I left a week earlier, I could get a better deal (again, be flexible!).

As well, if you have all the flight and price information before you approach a travel agent, it will be less likely that you will be taken advantage of on pricing.

Other Departure Cities

Sometimes you can save a lot of money if you drive to another airport, especially if you live near the U.S. border. Being in Toronto, it’s sometimes beneficial to drive to Buffalo to take advantage of the cheaper air taxes in the U.S., even after you consider the extra cost and time of driving. If you are able to get to another departure city that has cheaper fares, or more frequent departures, you are more likely to save money.  The best way to find a travel deal is to stay flexible, and to not let a great deal pass you by. Chances are if you see an offer that is an amazing price, 24 hours from now it will be gone, so make sure you book as soon as you can. In travel, if it’s too good to be true, then you should book it!

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