Summer time – where the weather’s warm and the living’s easy…and the gas prices are skyrocketing, luggage on airlines costs you at least an extra fifty bucks, and your dream ticket out of town is wildly unaffordable. What happened to the vacation part of summer vacation? AP Shopping Specialist Jodi Furman and fabuLESS are here to help you travel the world, soak up the rays on the beach, or have family fun time at a much more relaxing price. Outsmart your travel agent and kick your feet up with that break you deserve by using the following fabuLESS summer travel tips:
If you live in Florida, consider a beach vacation. Live in Colorado? Consider white water rafting or hiking. Live in New York State? Rent a cabin on a lake or visit all that New York City has to offer. Most hotels will offer a reduced rate to in state residents– and, additionally, many attractions offer either state resident discounts or the ability to purchase a seasonal or annual pass, or both. Just make sure that you’re going to visit the attraction often enough to make an annual pass worthwhile.
2. Determine whether to fly or drive
• Compare costs: Determine all costs associated with driving — either simply by using the IRS’s estimate of the cost of driving one mile, which for 2011 is $.51/mile, or use your car’s mileage per gallon to determine how many gallons you will consume, and multiply that by the cost of gas to arrive at your destination. For a quick calculation, try http://fuelcostcalculator.aaa.com/
• Taking your own vehicle has some distinct advantages– you can leave on YOUR schedule, there aren’t likely to be delays, no ‘change’ fees for leaving on a different day, and no baggage charges. Also, you won’t have the additional cost of renting a vehicle at your final destination and you don’t have to deal with transporting car seats (if you have young children).
• The drawbacks of driving include the wear and tear on your vehicle, the likely increase in travel time, and the utter exhaustion from driving long distances. You can do a quick search of almost ALL online flight search engines simultaneously on Kayak.com to find the best deals for air travel.
• Renting a vehicle close to home and using it to take a road trip might allow you to have a more fuel-efficient, larger, or more reliable vehicle. If there’s a problem on the way to your destination, you will be able to get a replacement vehicle rather than having to wait for a repair. The wear and tear on your own vehicle is also spared. If you don’t need a vehicle while you’re on vacation, you could rent a one to travel from your home to your destination, return it in your destination city, and then rent another for your return trip– no need to pay for a rental if you’re just going to park it for a few days!
fabuLESS tip: Generally you can book a rental car and cancel with no obligation. As you get closer to your departure date, check the rates to see if/when they dip. Also, be sure to check rentalcarmomma.com for rental car codes for most major car rental companies.
fabuLESS tip: Check with your auto insurance provider and your credit cards to see if you have protections while driving a rental car– you might be able to waive all additional coverage provided by a rental car agency, saving you hundreds of dollars in excess, potentially redundant coverage.
3. Shop the net for outstanding prices
If you have multiple airports within 100 miles, be sure to check all of the local (and even not so local) airport for flights. By travelling an hour more to the next closest airport, you might find a fare that is significantly lower and/or a direct flight for the same price as a connecting flight. Same goes for your arrival city — consider flying into alternate airports.
You will also find that car rental prices can vary wildly from agency to agency and even from location to location– so consider renting in town rather than at the airport. Renting at one location rather than the other might shave hundreds toward rental car costs, which is well worth the additional cost of a cab ride to the off airport location (also, you can almost always return the rental car to an airport location for NO additional charge!)
And, when it comes to booking flights, hotels, and even car rentals there are a number of options:
A. Conventional travel sites where you can book online (expedia.com, travelocity.com, rentalcars.com)
B. Bid on sites where you name your own price (priceline.com, hotwire.com)
C. Book directly on the website of the airline, hotel or car rental agency (aa.com, jetblue.com, etc.)
D. Call the national reservation line for the airline, hotel or car rental.
E. Call the local hotel or the local car rental location directly– they might have an unadvertised local special, or at the very least they might be able to offer you an upgrade without an additional charge.
fabuLESS tip: When booking hotels and/or rental cars online, be sure to click first on ebates.com to get a percentage of your total spending back (generally around 2%). If possible, use a credit card that ALSO nets you cashback and/or mileage, too!
4. Consider alternative lodging options. You might get more space and have more fun too!
Rather than renting a hotel room, consider a house swap or a vacation rental instead. Not only will the rates generally be lower, but you are also more likely to have a kitchen so you can make some meals, or at least have some snacks at home, saving you from having to dine out for each and every meal. Use vrbo.com or airbnb.com to search for unconventional lodging. Both sites have reviews and most listings have extensive descriptions and photographs of the amenities.
5. Get great deals on last minute airfare/hotel bargains
You can often get flights, hotels, cruises, all-inclusive resorts and vacation packages for a hefty discount if your schedule is flexible and you can travel with only a few days or a week’s notice. Let the deal dictate where you’re traveling and you might be able to get to Paris for less than you can get to Peoria!
Traveling on a smaller budget doesn’t mean having less fun– it just frees up more cash so you might be able to travel again sooner and more often!
Jodi Furman has become a national phenomenon with FabuLESS, a quick, easy, and simple way to live the upscale life without the price. As a regular contributor to the Associated Press, CNN, USA Weekend, Wasabi Media Group, WGN, and a weekly segment on ABC, Jodi Furman has established herself as the ultimate Savvy Shopping Guru. A married working mom with three young children plus two dogs, two cats, and a mountain of laundry to tackle each and every week, Jodi holds an MBA in marketing from Columbia Business School and has worked for Bristol-Myers Squibb in both sales and marketing for the past nine years. Her blog is currently one of the top 15 blogs on Kindle and has been in the top 100 for 600 days and counting. She has a fiercely loyal and rapidly growing social media following with RSS feeds, a daily email newsletter, a Facebook fan page and Twitter.
Living FabuLESS is a completely new and modern take on how to shop, live and do better without sacrificing time, quality, style or nutrition- Jodi is NOT a frumpy housewife, nor a splitting toilet paper from 2-ply into 1-ply to save money. She’s a (relatively) hip mom who *loves* fashion at a (steep) discount and saves a TON of money on the things her family NEEDS, like food and toiletries, so she has the money to splurge on the things she WANT- like vacations, fashion, and a healthy savings account.