While it’s true that I love thrift stores and all things thrifty, I am not into junk. In fact, I will admit, I do have a penchant for the finer things in life, including travel. For travel to be pleasant to me, some things high on my list include high thread count on hotel sheets, good food nearby, and maybe even massage available. The trick for me is learning how to keep my champagne tastes, while maintaining my beer budget. Here are some of my pointers to help you craft your own perfectly affordable, quality get-away. I know Summer has just officially ended, but these are tips you can put in place in plenty of time to plan for next year’s vacation!
The trick to learning how to travel on the cheap is to minimize the cost of your hotel and airfare as well as associated expenses like car rental. My first stop is always the “Name Your Own Price” section of Priceline at http://www.priceline.com. Always select the highest star quality level (4 stars or above) and be sure to give yourself at least one month before you plan to leave to keep trying if your bid is rejected at first. I have stayed at some great hotels, including the Sofitel and Hotel Monaco -Kimpton in DC ($120/night), and the Hyatt and the Hilton in Long Beach, CA ($75/night) just to name a few. If you have your heart set on a certain hotel in a certain city, then Name Your Own Price may not be best for you, since you have no say in which exact hotel you will be staying at – only the star quality and general location of the hotel you are bidding on. But, give it a whirl, you will be amazed at what great deals you can get. True Story: My brother recently bid on a hotel in DC and got the JW Marriott for $150/night. A few days later one of his friends made a reservation through traditional methods directly with that hotel and ended up paying $369 for the same exact type of room!
Another fun on-line bidding site is Sky Auction at http://www.skyauction.com. You can search their site by the region you are traveling to or simply click on the links that says, ‘Auctions Closing Soon’ to find amazing deals on hotels, resorts, cruises, restaurants and activities. Some recent Sky Auction travel that I have scored included the stunning Las Brisas Resort in Acapulco, Mexico (around $120/night) and the gorgeous Tamarindo Resort near Manzanillo, Mexico (around $150/night). Unfortunately, the latter resort has now closed, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they will reopen once the economy improves. In Acapulco, we had our OWN patio with a private pool and a 180 degree view of the City for less than the cost of a budget hotel. So, as you can see, you do not have to drop a bundle to live well. And, if you shop second-hand, you can afford to travel, since you’ll be saving so much money on other things.
Travel Auctions & Silent Auctions
Twice each year, KRCB public television in Santa Rosa holds their Travel & Leisure Auction. In fact, their Summer Spree Auction is happening now through September 23rd. Check it out at http://krcb.org/auction. You can either watch the auction live on TV, search deals on their website or place bids by telephone. Admittedly, I went a little bonkers at their last auction and bid on a couple of different travel packages, including a 2 night stay at the historic Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake, Ca simply because the proceeds were going to a good cause and the cost of the packages were 50% or more off retail prices. I will be posting about our stay later this week, and believe me, if you’ve never been, you will be considering it very soon once you see my photos.
If your school or organization is holding a Silent Auction fundraiser, this is another great way to get amazing travel deals, so seriously consider bidding on items. You just never know, and your dollars will be helping out your favorite organizaton.
Living well does not have to cost a lot of money. You just have to do your research, start planning your trip early and then hit the auction sites. With all the money you’ll be saving, you can afford to travel more often.
Where else have you found amazing travel deals? Drop me a line and let me know. Or, just shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your best discount travel secrets.