Tag Archives: budget vacations

Are You Letting The Airlines Get The Upper Hand On You?

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Today, there are so many on-line travel search engines that it can get overwhelming for the average person to know if they are getting the best fare for their flight. You can spend hours looking, searching and still not find the best fare.

Flexibility, even if you can’t be flexible, is the real key to searching for the lowest fare. If you can be flexible, even by one day, you may save hundreds of dollars. If you can’t be flexible you still need to make the airlines think you can.

Before we get to deep into how to find your flight, there’s one trick you need to know about. All booking sites record web browsing data. Some will use this information to increase prices when they know you are interested in a certain flight. Have you ever searched for a flight and get one price only to go back later and search it again only to find the price has increased? Always clear your web browser before you search again. You might just find the original price again. Now you are ready to shop.

Another tip, is don’t wait until the last minute to book your flight. Three months ahead is the best time to book and some airlines will give you an early-bird discount. Over three months really doesn’t have any dramatic advantages.

If it’s a vacation you are planning, you might want to consider going off-season. Various regions have different Off Seasons. If you can fly during these times, depending on your destination, you can usually fly cheaper. I have listed the off-seasons below:
* Australia & New Zealand – August
* Asia:January- February
* Europe: November- March
* South America: March – November
* The Caribbean: November – March

Make a list of the airlines you usually use and follow them on Twitter. Do the same for the Hotels and follow them. Some especially Jet-Blue and Virgin Atlantic are very active in promoting their hottest deals in real time. (Facebook doesn’t offer this, so its no use to add them there.) Hotels are great about posting their deals on twitter. Don’t forget that each and every time you do a search for an online fare, delete your cookies, cache and search history first.

Start your search with Kayak. It works for flexible or fixed dates on domestic and international flights. They also give you complete price, with taxes and fees, if for some reason you prefer to use another site, Skyscraper is worth looking at. It also has a flexible search tool. 52% of its customers are return users, which is a testament in itself.

Travelocity used to be the best travel search site, but today the company is not even in the running. They have a record for high-prices and poor customer service.

Some of the newer and better rated travel search sites are Vayama.com, Hipmunk.com, Google flights (www.itasoftworre.com). Google is great at pulling up every fare accurately, but the downside is you can’t book directly through google. You need to link out to anther site in order to book your flight.

Another way of getting cheaper flights is to fly into an alternate airport. Sometimes the alternate airport might even be closer to your destination. Even if you have to drive, it might be worth hundreds of dollars of savings to do so.

Now let’s talk a little more about the flexible date option, even if you can’t be flexible, Typically, how it works is you will put in a range of dates for your departure and return then you pick your original dates from the list. Some of the best travel websites to use when you are using flexible searching are :
* Kayack
* Skyscanner
* Orbit
* Hotwire – Only US flights
* Travelocity – only domestic flights

Word Of Caution: When using flexible date options with some travel searches, the taxes and fees are not added until you select your flight. Fees charged by the airport can vary dramatically.

Bottom line-Don’t make your final decision on price until your flight is selected and you receive the final total.

After you have found the fare you like, always compare it to the airline’s website, just to make sure their fare isn’t lower. One other point, when you are checking travel sites for fares, make sure you check the box to also search for alternate airports, near-by.

My last tip to help you get cheap flights is at auctions. You can save thousands of dollars, but auctions are not for the timid. If this sounds interesting, the best thing to do is first spend some time on the sites to see how they work. And always read the fine print before you bid. SkyAuction.com seems to be the best auction site, but there are others that are good also as long as you remember to read all the rules. Each one operates differently. Some of the others are LuxuryLink.com, FlightFax.com, and CruiseComplete.com – used for cruises. Priceline.com is good for rental cars and motels.

I hope some of these tips might help save you save money the next time you fly. If you find a deal using one of these methods or you have a different way that works for you, we would definitely love to hear from you, if you wouldn’t mind sharing. If you find this article useful I would appreciate you sharing it with your friends and family.

St. Augustine, Florida – Relaxing Week-End

I just returned from a relaxing week-end in St. Augustine. Two of my friends from Church and myself had made reservations a while back at the Super 8 Motel ($79.00 per night). Our reservations were made before Hurricane Mathew had came through, so when it came time to go, we were somewhat worried how our trip would go.

st-augustineFrom the news and many people’s photos, we knew that the area we were going to had been flooded. Once we got there, we were pleasantly surprised at how much clean-up had already been done. You actually could not tell that just a couple of weeks ago, everything had been under-water.

We arrived on a Friday evening, went straight to our motel and checked in. The motel was very nice and clean. Beds were very comfortable. The only complaint we had was the smell in the rooms was not to our liking. My friend had brought along some air fresheners, which is something I had never thought about taking on a trip. Once those were put out, everything was just perfect. I know that I will add this to my list for taking on trips from now on.

After checking in, we decided to run to the grocery store and get some coffee we liked, coffee creamer and sugar. We bought the little packets of Maxwell House coffee that you can use in the single server coffee pots they put in Motel rooms, now. All we had to do, was open their little packets and use the disposable tray they are in. You can use that tray over and over. This allowed us to make our own coffee without leaving our room. We had already brought a cooler packed with lunch meat, drinks and condiments. We also had bags with snacks in them also. So, back to the room we go.

After unloading the car, we walked across to the beach to look for sharks teeth. Another new experience for myself. We stayed out there till dark and then returned to the motel. We took baths, ate and played a card game till 2:00 in the morning. A great way to end our first night at the beach.

Saturday, we all arose, got dressed and went to the light house. One of my friends had already climbed it before and my other friend wanted to do it. I had never climbed it either and was kind of dreading it. I didn’t know if I could make it, but I did and bought the shirt that says I made it as a reward. After our conquering this feat we decided to visit Old Town. This area had been flooded also, but most of it had already been repaired. We spent almost all day, walking and shopping there. We grabbed a hamburger at one of the local shops. A little expensive, but not bad tasting. Everyone knows when you eat at a place like that, prices will be a little higher then normal. It was the only meal we bought while there, so we really couldn’t complain.

On returning to the Motel, we walked to the beach again, to look for sharks teeth. One of my friends and I decided to walk out on the pier (which cost $1.00 apiece). While we were in the little store there, we found out it only cost $3.00 to fish from the pier if you brought your own fishing poles or you could even rent a pole from them. Very nice man that runs the pier shop.
Their are benches all along the pier for setting on, so we sat and talked awhile while watching all the birds, boats and people around us. Some people were surfing, some playing in the water, some fishing and some just laying out enjoying the sun. We watched a few shrimp boats, not close enough to really see how they were doing.

When we returned to the motel that night we showered, ate sandwiches and went straight to bed. We all were exhausted.

Next and last day, we awoke, dressed, packed everything up and drove over to the beach. We were fairly early, so we were able to get a pretty good parking place right by some picnic tables. We walked to the beach, again looking for shark teeth. I had one friend that had found a lot, another friend found a few. I Had found 2. You really have to develop and eye for finding them. It’s not easy. We continued this till about 1:30 and then returned to the picnic table and had a picnic before we left.

Our vacation was done on a budget that almost any body can afford. I hope you like our story and might get some ideas, even if St. Augustine is not your destination. Having snacks and other things in our cooler made our stay much more affordable.

4 Affordable Bucket List Vacation Ideas

  • Hiking a volcano and walking on dried lava in Hawaii.  Under $100.00 (per person)

Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see the real thing in action.volcano You’ll get the chance to drive right up to the caldera- don’t miss the Cater Rim Drive, an 11 mild drive that passes through the various volcano landscapes from tropical rain forest to the desert like crater, itself, with scenic overlooks all along the way. You also have the opportunity to walk inside the Thurston lava Tube a no longer active part of the volcano. It allows you to walk 1/3 mile inside Kilauea where lava once flowed a few 100 years ago.

$15.00 per vehicle enters the park, $8.00 per individual if you enter by foot or bicycle and $10.00 per motorcycle. Free camping and hiking opportunities are also available, as are park ranger walking tours.

About an hours drive outside the park and along highway 130 is the volcanoentrance to Kalapana, a town that was completely covered in lava in 1990. Miraculously no one was hurt and the town got together and hauled their Church to a nearby town to escape the wrath of Hawaiian Volcano Goddess, Pele- you can still visit the Star of the Sea Painted Church today. Park your car where the road ends, (It’s literally blocked by a wall of lava), grab a pair of sturdy shoes, and go for a hike on the dried lava field. The hike can take between 20 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how fast you go. Either way, be careful as dried lava can be very sharp if you fall on it. The trail ends at a beautiful black sand beach, but you can’t swim in it.   Parking and Hiking are free, though.

  • Zorbing in New Zealand

What is Zorbing, you might ask? Well, it’s the art of rolling and zorbbouncing down a hill while inside a giant, hamster wheel like plastic ball contraption. An adrenaline junkie’s dream come true. Zorbing has actually been popular since 1997 and is definitely  one of those “only in New Zealand” type of experiences.

You have two options: Zydo, a sort of water ride version of the Zorb, and Zorbit, the dry version. Zorb Rotorua offers four track options and eight ride variations. Some strap in just one person, while others strap in up to three for a crazy, head-over-heels, trip down the half mile track.

Prices for one Zorb ride (either wet or dry) are $39.00 per person, pay $58.00 for 2 to ride in the same globe, and $78.00 for three people in same globe.

zorb

 

  • Zip lining over alligators in St. Augustine, Fla

At the St. Augustine Alligator Farm’s Crocodile Crossing just crociddleoutside the town of St. Augustine, there’s nothing quite like zip lining and completing an aeriel  obstacle course  over a park full of crocodiles, alligators, and hundreds of other reptiles.

Not to worry, though. Everything is totally safe. You are trained by experts and even get to do a practice zip line before you go out on your great adventure.  You can choose from the 45 minute Sepik River Course which takes you 20 ft up and gives you three zip lines to go through or you can choose the 90 minute longer, higher Nile River Course, and aerial obstacle course 60 ft above the park and takes you through a total of 9 zip lines. Both courses are self led, but there are trainers beneath you to come to the rescue, should you get stuck or require assistance.

The 45 minute course cost $35.00 per person while the 90 minute course cost $65.00 per person. What a great thriller for your bucket list, don’t you think? Also if you purchase Zip Nile tickets, you get free admission to the zoo. If you purchase the Zip Sepil ticket, you get half price off admission.  Admission cost are Adults: $22.95, children (ages 3-11)- $11.95, Guest in wheelchairs (adults)-$11.47, Guest in wheelchairs (children)-$5.97. They also offer discounted rates for AAA, Military and Seniors of 10%.

zorb

Driving among the buffalo in Cluster Park

Reaching Cluster Park is actually half the fun. You drive along plenty of twisting roads, gorgeous views and incredible wildlife encounters. It’s one of the few places you can get stuck in traffic due to herds of buffaloes deciding to cross the road.  Always keep your cameras handy.

Once you’re inside the park, opt to spend the night camping in the lodgeSouth Dakota wilderness or visit one of the Cluster Park Resorts. The Game State Lodge, a beautiful historic property that once served as the “Summer White House” for President Coolidge in 1927 and was later visited by President Eisenhower in 1953. The best part is it’s the launching point for the Buffalo Safari Jeep Tours.  This is a spectacular way to get up close and personal with the park’s diverse wildlife.  You also have the option of a chuck wagon cookout.

safari

 

 

 

 

cookout

It cost $4.00 admission to get inside the park, or $15.00 per vehicle for 7 days. Children age 11 and under get in free. Rooms at The Game State Lodge start at $115.00 per night. Adults pay $82.00 each, children age 12 and under pay $62.00 for the Safari Tour plus Chuck Wagon cookout.  Prices for just The Safari Jeep Tour are $43.00 for adults and $36.00 for kids 12 and under. Just The Chuck Wagon cookout cost $47.00 for adults and $37.00 for kids 12 and under.

Conclusion

It’s amazing at the different things you can find to do if you really look for them. Depending on how far away you live and the cost of transportation to get there, I thought these were some amazing things to add to your own “bucket list”

I would love for some of you to share your ideas for my other readers to add to their list if it sounds like something they would enjoy doing.

 

 

 

 

The Beginning Of Spring Break

Although June is classified as the beginning of Spring Break and more people are traveling because kids are out of school, there are still a few places you can travel to on a budget and have a good time. I’m going to list a few that I have found with reasonable rates and some may even be close enough that you can drive to.

Daytona Beach

Daytona boasts an abundance of cheap hotels, inexpensive Daytona Beachrestaurants and plenty of package deals.

Daytona residents love their cars, so you can expect to see some tricked out automobiles on the road, at the speedway, and even on the beach.

Some Things To Do:
  • Climb to the top of one of the oldest lighthouses in the United States.
  • Enjoy some peace and quite at the Museum of Art and Sciences.
  • Take a drive on the beach in your car (where permited)
  • Visit theme parks like the Daytona 500 Experience and The Dragon Lagoon.
  • Check out Main Street and Seabreeze Boulevard for a collection of Bars and clubs, some of which cater specifically to the bikers that frequent the area.
  • Spend the day at the Beach.
  • Enjoy shopping in town.

Puerto Rico

Determining Puerto Rico’s charm is a no-brainer. Less than a threePuerto Rico hour flight from Miami. this Island is a U.S. territory. So when you’re shopping in San Juan you can pay for your souvenirs with American bills. Puerto Rico has both 20-ft waves for the surfers and calm, clear waters for families. It’s an exhilarating mix of landscapes, from the serpentine jungle of El Yunque to the corkscrew caves of Parque de las Cavernas del Rio Camuy. And if you want to get away from civilization entirely, you can ferry over to the secluded- not to mention- jaw droppingly gorgeous – islands of Vieques and Culebra.

Puerto Rico2Puerto Rico offers year-round affordable packages so travelers can relax along it’s blanched sands. Follow a pulsating beat to the dance clubs in the Santurce neighborhood, catch some live music in a Ponce lounge or grab a casual drink at a San Sebastian bar.

Many Puerto Ricans speak English, but Spanish is the language of daily life. Packing a Spanish phrasebook is handy, and Puerto Ricans welcome your efforts to converse with them in Spanish. Since Puerto Rico is part of the United States, the island’s currency is the U>S> dollar and credit cards are widely accepted. Tipping etiquette is the same here as in other parts of the United States; 15 to 20 percent is considered the standard, but more is appreciated for exceptional service.

With my comparison between motels and homeaway.com, it seems that homeaway.com might offer the better prices. Make sure you check them out while checking out your favorite travel site.

Myrtle Beach

The clean beaches are the main draw to Myrtle Beaches, but there’sMyrtle Beach more to her than miles of brown sand.   One of the best East Coast family vacation destinations, boasts hundreds of Golf courses for golfers at all levels, amusement parks that fling the kiddies around on water rides, roller coasters, and race tracks, and Ripley’s Aquarium, which dares visitors to commune with the sharks.

Conclusion

I found that some of the links below offered some of the best prices on places to stay. If you want to find some of the best prices for the beginning of Spring Break, try clicking on them or use your favorite booking site, either one.


Bookingcom

Need a Vacation? Rent a Private Villa, Home, or Condo. Click here!


HomeAway: Book it Now


BookingBuddy


Hotelwatchdog

Great Destinations For The Month Of April

For this article, I thought I would write something a little different and point out some great destinations for the month of April. What I consider a great destination is a place with the perfect weather combined with lower hotel or other accommodation prices. I’ve listed a few of the more popular places below.

Mexico City, Mexico

April is an ideal month to visit Mexico City. It has an average high of 84 degrees F and an average low of Mexico City51 degrees F. It is one of two warm and dry months before the summer rainy season. Flights are quite cheap during this time, also.

For those who might not can afford to go to Europe, but are interested in a cultural or nightlife holiday in a city should really enjoy this town. It’s tourist heart is extremely safe and much of it is upscale, but reasonably priced. You can find hotels starting as low as $43.00 per night.

Panama City, Panama

Panama City

Those looking for a Central American adventure but doesn’t want to pay the higher prices of Costa Rica should think about Panama. The avg high Temp. is 89 degrees F and average low is 78. It’ll be hot in April, even at night, but those near the beaches should be fine, and hotel prices are off their high-season peaks as well. You can find hotels starting at $67 per night.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de JanieroThe high season for hotels is over and yet the weather this month is even nicer than during the summer as there is less rain and temperatures are less scorching. April’s average high is 86 degrees F and avg low is 70.

Being (just barely) in the tropics, it’s beach weather is pretty much all year round, so better to go when it’s not as hot and the city isn’t so full of other tourist. Hotels start around $63.00 during this month.

Costa Rica

Costa RicaWith plenty of air, hotel, and vacation package deals and brand new flights from Southwest Airlines, Costa Rica’s an affordable paradise just waiting to be discovered. Southweast is offering fares up to 40% lower than competing airlines on their routes to Costa Rica. Costa Rica is also included in Southwest beach hotel’s sale, with nightly rates starting at $58.00 per night.

Costa Rica has long been a popular tourist destination. There’s much to do in this Central American hot spot. For the thrill-seeker, visiting Arenal (Volcano, currently in a resting phase) is a must see. This volcano is more than 5,000 ft high. the surrounding 30,000-acre national park offers countless adventure activities including Class IV whitewater rafting, water fall rappelling, hiking, canopy touring, and horseback riding. Or, spelunk the nearby Volcano Caves for a peek at bats, blind fish, and other subterranean creatures.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

The Outer Banks serve as welcome mats to the Atlantic and all her treasures. Close to 400 species of Outer Banksbirds, from native Carolina wrens to wintering bald eagles, can be found here, along with otters and sea turtle colonies. Add five lighthouses and you have yourself a sea worthy destination that even a pirate like Blackbeard (a former resident) could call home. Landlubbers will want to visit Kitty Hawk, the site where Orville and Wilbur Wright learned how to fly, and the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island.

For clean, affordable lodging close to the beach, you can do no better than the Driftwood Motel on Cedar Island, where rooms start at $65.00.

Conclusion:

There’s simply no beating the perfect combination of pleasant weather and low prices for great travel deals in the month of April. Whether you’re looking to go to the mountains or head to the beaches, you can do it all for less. I have listed only a few suggestions of great destinations for the month of April. There are many, many more places just waiting for you to discover. Use some of the links in some of my previous post to help you find the perfect adventure for you and/or your family.

Is a Cruise One of The Vacations You Are Looking At?


Great Family Cruises! Click here

 

Cruises seem to be one of the fastest growing segments of travel, so we can’t overlook it when we are talking about vacations. Cruise Direct offers some of the lowest prices no matter how many are traveling and no matter where your destination is.

Cruise Direct offers an easy booking process,  Best Price Guarantee, Flexible Payment Plans, Low Price Assurance, No Booking Fees, eTickets, freebies and discounts. If a cruise is what you are thinking about for your next vacation, take a look at what they have to offer before booking anywhere else.

Low Budget Vacation Ideas


Are you trying to plan a vacation for yourself, your family or maybe a boys weekend or even a girls weekend away? Are you looking for some low-budget ideas that won’t break your bank, but can still afford you a good time? Well look no more, my friend. I have some great ideas for you to look over.

These places offer some of the lowest room rates and some even offer lower rates, by offering camping if that’s what you might be looking for. I will list the places and give you a small summary about each place, but then you just need to click on them and see for yourself what’s offered.

ACE Adventure Resort – Oak Hill, West Virginia lodging ranges from rustic camping to cozy log cabins and lakeside Chalets. Ace Adventure Resort is located in a prime area on the New River Gorge National River, known as the East Coast’s Grand Canyon.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, I would highly recommend checking this site out. The possibilities are almost endless with white water rafting, zip-line tours, rock-climbing, kayaking, horse-back riding, and back at camp, there is wild water park fun with inflatables on the lake, almost anything for the thrill-seeker to the person who just wants to leave the city behind.

Sea Mist Oceanfront  Resort  – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – Lodging encompasses almost any type you can imagine, hotel, condos, cottages, bungalows, villas, even rental houses. If you can’t find something you can afford here, I would be greatly surprised. But, their rates are very good and they have some accommodations where you can bring your pet.

They offer so many packages to choose from, but even if you don’t choose a package, you already have free admission to so many exciting events and places already located on the resort.

Best Budget Vacation- How Much will I Sacrafice?

 

Being a Budget Traveler and getting the Best Budget Vacation doesn’t just mean saving money, but also traveling in the smartest, most stylish way possible. How do we do this? Keep reading and you can join the millions of people already using these techniques.

Haven’t you ever wondered, “How in the world, can that person afford to travel that way?”Stay with me and you, too, may be traveling, better, yet cheaper then you have in the past.

There’s a Reasonably Priced Hotel Room With Your Name on It

Don’t just snap up the first room that seems reasonably priced. Do your research – how close are you to the attractions you are looking for? Call the Hotel and ask for the best price, the most appropriate room options, and for a free upgrade. You will be surprised at what some Hotels can do that is unadvertised.

I usually like to find at least 2 or 3 different Hotels that interest me and then call each one. Sometimes you can even pit once against the other. The more often you do this, the better you will get at it.

Did You Know There is A Best Day To Buy Airline Tickets?Plane

Yes, believe it or not, there is. Buy your airline tickets about two months before you fly, and buy them on a Tuesday. You will likely get your best price by doing this. Another good tip is to follow all major airlines on social media, sign up for there rewards programs, and subscribe to their free e-newsletters to get the inside track on deals.

There is Also A Best Time of Day to Pick up Your Rental Car!

You want to pick up your rental car first thing in the morning. Budget Travelers book the smallest car and pick up time as early as possible. The early bird gets the free upgrade. Most travelers won’t have returned their small cars yet and they will be out of stock . The Rental Agency is obligated to give you a car and therefore will have to offer you an upgrade.

The Two Best Times to Book a Cruise.

Booking your cruise 6 mts to a year in advance is ususaly the first time of getting a better price. Supply is high and demand is relatively flat. The next best time to book a cruise is in the last two weeks. The Cruise Line may scramble to fill cabins and once again you swoop in and find a deal.

National State Parks – Beautiful and Affordable-

ParkCompared with any other vacation spot on earth, our national parks—and many state parks for that matter—deliver serious bang for the buck. Sure they normally charge an admission fee, but it’s per car not per person.  Lodgings inside a National Park can be around $200.00 per night, but once inside the park, the wildlife, trails, ranger talks, evening presentations, junior ranger programs, and just about everything else is on the house. Sometimes that can be a real deal.

The Biggest Secret In Travel

Airlines and hotels are willing to practically give away their inventory rather than see it go empty. That’s right. Airlines sell their seats at rock-bottom prices. Hotels do the same for their rooms. Why haven’t you heard this before? Because they don’t exactly go parading down the street announcing it to the world. Instead, they roll those empty airplane seats and hotel beds into package deals. When you book a package deal (such as the Real Deals that Budget Travel publishes each week), you’ll get a good rate on airfare and hotels, some meals, often guided tours, and some ground transportation. Don’t believe us? Take a look at a package deal and then try to book the airfare and hotel separately—the package will almost always be significantly less.

couple

Trying to Get Away on a Romantic Getaway

Tell everybody! Sounds a little strange  when you’re trying to get some alone time with your Significant Other, but mentioning your romantic status to flight attendents, waiters, and hotel managers can yield complimentary wine, upgrades, private balconies, and other surprises.

Your Next Trip Can Also be Right at Your Fingertips

You don’t have to Fly or go on a Cruise to have a great vacation. Some of the best trips are to be had on America’s Highways. Budget travelers love ‘one tank escapes’. You can start by exploring locales within acar two-hour drive from your home. For most Americans, that includes gorgeous parkland, cool small towns, food you won’t find at home, and often the kinds of surprises that most of us travel for.

 

I hope you enjoyed reading my tips and suggestions. Please feel free to leave comments and maybe you even  have some tips you would like to include.