Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Alfred Borcover

4/27/2009 (7 years ago)

McClatchy Newspapers (www.mctdirect.com)

Chicago Tribune (MCT) - Shop. Shop. Shop. Compare. Compare. Compare. During this seemingly endless recession, it will take time and effort to find the best ways to stretch your travel dollars.

Highlights

By Alfred Borcover

McClatchy Newspapers (www.mctdirect.com)

4/27/2009 (7 years ago)

Published in Travel


Burdened with worries about job security, depleted retirement funds and a stream of bills, we all need a respite. Whether it's a weekend getaway or a longer trip, there are ways to make your escape more cost-effective. For instance, you don't have to travel a thousand miles to have a good time. Consider off-season travel, use discount coupons, and, if you live in a desirable location, think about home-swapping.

More tips and strategies come from experts at AAA, Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity, Travel Leaders (formerly Carlson Wagonlit Travel, a nationwide network) and others. For starters, there are things you need to define from the start.

Where do you want to go _ on a cruise, to a resort using an all-inclusive package, to a national or state park, to a city? You need to focus on what you want from the holiday.

_Hotels

It may feel awkward, but you can haggle for a better room rate. Consumer advocates say you can negotiate lower prices for just about anything these days. It's not that America has become a vast bazaar during the recession, but, hey, empty hotel rooms don't generate income. Some hotels offer one free night if you stay for two or three, but you might save more money by getting a flat 10 percent or 15 percent discount on your stay. Again, do the math. Use AAA, AARP or any other discount cards you have to secure the best possible rate. Before you book, also check discounted rates offered by sites as hotels.com and quickbook.com.

_Car rentals

As with hotels, negotiate the best rental rate you can. Ask about special deals. Remember that airport auto rental locations are convenient, but taxes and fees are higher there than at non-airport locations. See if your auto insurance covers rental vehicles. You can save a bundle by not taking the car rental company's collision damage waiver. Also waive the prepaid gas option, but return the car with a full tank.

_Tax-deductible vacations

Volunteer vacations as offered by Earthwatch and Habitat for Humanity attract thousands of people who not only want to work on scientific projects or build homes but write off the trip on their taxes.

Be careful. IRS Publication 526 (24 pages long) states that you may claim a deduction only if there is no "significant element of personal pleasure, recreation or vacation in the travel." (No, you can't claim that because your in-laws were along, you had no fun.)

Earthwatch advises that under certain circumstances, volunteers can deduct reasonable out-of-pocket expenses, including some costs for transportation to and from the research site.

The word of caution is: "As with all tax matters, please consult your personal tax adviser on all issues concerning tax deductibility."

If no vacation option works for you, consider a staycation. Stay home or find a deal in a local hotel and take advantage of nearby museums, parks, zoos, attractions and neighborhoods that you and the family don't have time to do through the year. State and local tourist offices generally have discount coupons that can save you money.

Again, be prudent. And enjoy your time off.

_If you fly

Check as many Internet sources as you can for the best airfares. In his new book, "Ask Arthur Frommer," the travel guru recommends checking with aggregators, who list not only the large, mainstream airlines but smaller budget lines such as AirTran. He suggests cheapflights.com, farechase.com, kayak.com, sidestep.com, momondo.com and mobissimo.com (for international flights).

Aggregators typically will root out the best fares, then lead you to booking at such sites as expedia.com, orbitz.com, priceline.com and travelocity.com. Once you check an airfare there, also look at the particular airline's Web site to see if you can score an even better Web special. From Monday evening to the following morning is when you're likely to start catching the early posting of lower fares, according to many experts, though some contend Tuesday night is a meaty time.

Consider a consolidator such as Chicago-based cheaptickets.com or 1800flyeurope.com. Consolidators buy blocks of tickets, sometimes offering substantial discounts, but one caveat: You probably won't be able to change your arrangements, so be sure before you buy.

For those without Web access, remember that travel agents can cut through a lot of brambles to find great rates.

Be flexible in your travel dates and times. Often the best fares are available two to four weeks before departure, but there's no sure-fire formula. Too, travel on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday instead of on or around the weekend. Rates can be dramatically cheaper.

Combine air, hotel and rental-car needs to see what kind of savings you can garner. Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity can save you hundreds of dollars if you book the components together because of the discounts they receive from suppliers. For example, we looked on Orbitz for a four-night stay at the Hilton Orlando/Altamonte Springs. By combining airfare and hotel, we were quoted an impressive $386 a person.

_If you cruise

Although you might find a cruise advertised for as low as $58 a person a day, remember that you'll be socked with additional charges. Yes, the rate includes your meals (except in specialty restaurants) and entertainment, but you're paying for an inside cabin. Extras include port charges, drinks, shore excursions, shopping, gaming, tipping _ and airfare, if it's not included in the cruise package. This is where shopping, comparing and questioning come in. You've got to know precisely what you're buying before you plunk down a credit card. You don't want post-cruise surprises.

An alternative to a cruise: an all-inclusive beach resort package that includes air, accommodations, meals and other goodies. As with cruises, it pays to deal with a knowledgeable travel agent who can do comparisons and walk you through the monetary minefield. Agents often charge nominal fees, so ask.

You don't even have to travel into the more typically all-inclusive Caribbean, however. The Club Med Sandpiper in Port St. Lucie, Fla., has gone the way of the all-inclusive on the U.S. mainland. Rates for a couple there May 23-30 run $1,435 (garden view) a person, including airfare, food, drink and a bunch of activities. This is, however, highly touted for families.

_If you drive

Traditionally, about 80 percent of Americans use the family car for vacation, the least expensive way to go. With gasoline prices hovering around $2 a gallon, the car is a viable option and gives you enormous flexibility. Pick destinations within easy driving distance _ less expensive small towns and cities, nearby resorts and attractions. Choose accommodations that offer free breakfasts. Prepare picnic lunches and save the bigger bucks for dinner. Find restaurants where kids eat free. Or fix your own food if you opt to stay in an all-suites property that has mini-kitchens. Consider renting a cottage. Research your route at aaamaps.com to avoid getting lost. Check with aaafuelgaugereport.com for the lowest gas prices.

___

Alfred Borcover: aborcover@aol.com

___

© 2009, Chicago Tribune.



Comments


More Travel

Why is the world warning against travel to the United States? Watch

Image of Why would other countries warn against traveling to the United States (sweetsouthernhome)?

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

News of the controversy and hate crimes linked between the black community, police officers, the LGBT community, racial relations and ongoing threats of a terrorist attack has other countries warning travelers against visiting the United States. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


3 beautiful Holy islands you MUST visit soon Watch

Image of Find your spiritual restoration at one of these holy islands (Terry Cavner).

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Have you been bitten by the travel bug? Looking for someplace to visit that has a rich history and a beautiful shoreline? Consider one of these three Holy islands as your next vacation getaway! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Traveling can be a wonderful way to ... continue reading


How people celebrate St. Patrick's Day around the world! Watch

Image of How do YOU celebrate St. Patrick's Day (Sammy and the City)?

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Festivals, parades, parties and more - St. Patrick's Day is celebrated in wonderfully unique ways across the globe! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - St. Patrick felt called to spread Christianity throughout Ireland and worked to teach the locals for the last forty ... continue reading


The unbelievable shocking things air travelers tried to bring on board Watch

Image of While this statue of a monster holding a grenade is a whimsical joke, airport officials will have to delay passengers boarding until they determine that the grenade is a fake.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

With a heightened sense of terrorism gripping the travel industry today, it's amazing to learn what things passengers bring with them on to planes. All manner of bizarre - and deadly items are found in carry-on luggage. Everything thing from razors-harp ... continue reading


You won't believe what happens now when you don't pay taxes! Watch

Image of Better keep up with your taxes or your next trip out of the country might get canceled.

By Kenya Sinclair (California Network)

The United States government passed a law earlier this month allowing for passport revoktions of anyone owing delinquent taxes. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "You could be on your honeymoon and they could revoke your passport," said Tom Wheelwriight, a certified ... continue reading


5 amazing safe holiday travel tips you can't go without this year Watch

Image of Safe travels with your family can be simplified by following a few basic safety rules.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years just around the corner, people around the world are planning to travel to visit with friends and family. Any form of travel comes with its own hazards, but Catholic Online has five top safety tips for the holiday traveler. LOS ... continue reading


Top 5 Catholic Bucket List Destinations Watch

Image of St. Michael Guardian Angel Travel Protection Clip (Catholic).

By Mica Lafkan (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

As Catholics, we know the world offers a variety of historically religious landmarks from the River Jordan to the birthplace of Christ, our Savior. So, after scrimping and saving you're ready to go out and explore religiously-relevant locations across the ... continue reading


Pilgrimage of Mary: The Tour of the Major Relics of St. Maria Gorreti Watch

Image of St. Maria Goretti's remains are encased inside a glass-sided casket. Inside the casket is a wax statue, which contains her skeletal remains. None of the sacred remains are visible. Nevertheless, the skeleton is complete, with the exception of small fragments that were taken to be placed in altars and for use in the Church's ministry (mariagorettichicago.com).

By Nikky Andres (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

St. Maria Goretti Parish is set to host a tour of the relics of its patron saint, St. Maria Goretti, as part of the Pilgrimage of Mary: The Tour of the Major Relics of St. Maria Gorreti. The parish is one of more than 50 in the United States to host the major relics of ... continue reading


Pope Francis plans visit to Mexico in 2016 Watch

Image of Pope Francis' visit will be his first time in Mexico.

By Linky C. (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Vatican announced that Pope Francis is planning to visit Mexico in 2016. His itinerary will include a visit to the Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed last Tuesday that plans of a ... continue reading


Never before seen Vatican artifacts on display in Philadelphia Watch

Image of Pope Pius IX's processional cross.

By Linky C. (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A preview of "Vatican splendors" can be seen in an exhibit at the Franklin Institute that showcases never before seen relics and art pieces from the Vatican. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A collection of over 200 items from the Vatican that have never been seen ... continue reading


All Travel News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Corinthians 2:10-16
10 to us, though, God has given revelation through the Spirit, for the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 13-14
8 Yahweh is tenderness and pity, slow to anger, full of faithful ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:31-37
31 He went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 30th, 2016 Image

St. Rumon
August 30: St. Rumon, also known as Ruan, Ronan, and Ruadan, ... Read More