5 Budget Travel Tips You Haven’t Heard Before

Experts reveal their under-the-radar tips on how to save money on hotels, flights and more. To ensure your hard-earned travel dollars go as far as they can, check out their valuable advice.


1. Call before booking online. Making travel arrangements through the Internet may be convenient, but it doesn't always result in the best deal. Nicole Lapin, editor-in-chief of Recessionista.com, recommends calling a hotel around 4 p.m. local time on Sunday afternoon and asking to speak with a manager or supervisor. The person fielding calls at the hotel's toll-free number may not have the authority to cut you a deal, but the hotel's local manager or supervisor often does. Mention you're celebrating a birthday or anniversary, or use Lapin's strategy: "I've seen the rate of $199 per night in the past. I was wondering if you could match that? Maybe there's a room in the back that isn't as coveted?"

This strategy can work with plane tickets, too. "It's a myth that all the available inventory is available on the Internet," says Peter Greenberg, travel editor at CBS News. "We go online because it's easy, but we do so at our own peril if we're looking for a deal." In some cases, booking by phone may carry an extra fee, so Greenberg recommends that consumers compare the price they can get online to the one offered by phone, and figure in any extra fees. "They only charge you the phone-booking fee if you book by phone," he says. "Anytime you get on the phone, you still have 24 hours in which to pay for your ticket. Hold that fare, go online and see if you can beat it."

2. Go against the crowd. Another way to save on hotel stays is to choose those that are less crowded and therefore have an incentive to discount their rooms. "Go after business hotels for weekend stays, and go after leisure hotels for weekdays," suggests John DiScala, veteran traveler and founder of travel website JohnnyJet.com. "Business hotels are packed Sunday through Thursday, and then they're pretty much empty on the weekends. They're always looking for folks so they'll offer really good deals."
Traveling during off-season or shoulder season (the period before or after peak tourism season when the weather is still nice, but fewer people are traveling) is another way to profit from lower prices.

3. Ask about repositioning flights or cruises. Airlines use repositioning flights to move aircrafts from one airport to another, and the same applies to cruise lines, which usually reposition ships twice a year. These flights or cruises tend to be discounted but provide services similar to traditional offerings, according to Greenberg. He advises asking about these options on the phone.

4. Follow the disaster. Some travelers have booked some of their most affordable vacations by traveling to places other tourists have ruled out because of natural disasters or political issues. Three years after the SARS outbreak in China, many American tourists were still reluctant to visit the country. But a trip to China could be had for a fraction of what it would normally cost because the Chinese government subsidized travel to encourage tourism.
Tourists should consider visiting Egypt and Haiti for these reasons. Still, using common sense is key to safely executing this strategy. If the entire country is involved in civil war, that's another story.

5. Consider alternate airports. Instead of defaulting to the closest – or largest – airport, consider others nearby. Every city has an alternate airport, so search websites by city rather than a specific airport. Especially if you're purchasing several tickets, the cost savings can really add up. Don't forget to factor in the time and cost of transportation to your accommodations to make sure an alternate airport makes the most sense.

Credit: US News

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