Sunday, August 2, 2009

How to travel in a recession

Don’t let the credit crunch put a halt to your globetrotting

•Flexibility is key. Airfares can vary by several hundreds depending on the day of the week. Travelling whilst most people are still at work will save time and money, so try booking your ticket for a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday to save some cash and aggravation.

•Be spontaneous. There’s nothing more invigorating than throwing caution to the winds and taking that last minute trip. But in order to protect your wallet from the increasing oil prices that are driving up the cost of flights, you'll need to book now if its savings you’re after. Costs for airfare, hotels and hired cars for the most part follow the thermometer – as the temperature rises, so do the prices.

•Open your mind: Not everyone knows where and when they want to go for their next holiday. Travelling further afield is hardly inexpensive, but you can make your hard earned euro stretch as far as possible by heading to any destination accepting (or linked to) the U.S. dollar. Consider sunning yourself on the beaches of dollar-based Caribbean islands like Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

•Look for signs of price weakness. Travel agents or companies that have already reduced their prices may be prepared to snip again. Politely and coolly ask for a discount. It always helps to mention that you are looking at their competitors who are willing to offer a better rate.

•Do your research online. Often prices on the airline or tour operators’ website can work out cheaper than booking over the phone.

•Be clever about hotel breaks. City hotels tend to be less busy at weekends so prices are often more flexible. Country hotels often have more availability in the middle of the week. When a hotel has unusually low occupancy rates you also may be able to negotiate a cheaper rate, an upgrade for standard price, or get free breakfast -there is nothing to lose by asking.

•Get your timing right. To book a package holiday try phoning the travel agent one to three weeks before departure. For hotel stays wait until one to five days beforehand.

•The best way to get a free flight or upgrade is to use frequent flyer miles. With frequent flier miles available with most large airlines, it is easier than ever to accrue free travel.

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