This column is all about getting discounts, on restaurants, tours, hotels, and car rentals.
I love to travel, and with the way prices keep going up, getting discounts is the only way to still be able to afford it. So for fellow travelers and even for those that just needs a hotel for a couple of nights, this column is for you!
For hotels, I start with the main search sites, Expedia and Travelocity. I’m a bit OCD about getting the most for the least amount of money. After narrowing down the list to specific needs- internet access, ocean front room, and preferably breakfast included, then I start reading the reviews. Be sure you check the reviews listed and Trip Advisor.com reviews. Next, compare prices on each site, then go into that hotels website and check the price there. Sometimes they are having a special that is not on a search site, and start looking for special discounts. Are you a member of AAA, AARP or a Senior (over 62)? Look for those discounts here.
Be careful – some chains have a higher rate for AARP than their ‘Best Available’ rate!
If you don’t see where you can plug in for discounts, email the hotel itself and ask for a discount. Yes, Ask! At first, I was a bit embarrassed. I didn’t want them to think I was cheap! Now, I ask all the time. I booked a hotel yesterday that was on sale on Expedia, but I emailed the hotel and asked for an AARP rate and received and additional $20.00 off per night!
You have nothing to lose by asking and everything to gain!
Car Rentals – same process. Start with the main sites, and check their own website looking for specials that are not listed. And for cars, you can book them – then keep checking every so often for a cheaper rate and change your reservation! Yesterday Travelocity was $250.00 cheaper than Expedia for the same car, same time.
Tours – ASK if they have a coupon, and if not, do they offer discounts! I emailed a tour operator yesterday asking for a discount and got $25.00 off per person! Worked in Alaska too – asked if they had a coupon, they didn’t, but he gave me 10% off!
Sign up for Groupon for the city you’re planning on visiting for restaurant discounts. If it’s a big city, make sure you’re going to be in that section.
Google ‘coupon book’ for where you’re going, see if it’s worth it. Alaska has 2 coupon books that overlap, so you only need one, but they are filled with buy one get one free meals and tours! We’re going this summer and have already saved over $700 using the coupons!
Check the Trip Advisor forum for the city you’re going to. Ask about coupon books, and read feedback on tours people have taken and the experience they’ve had with that particular tour operator. It’s great to hear others say it was worth it (or not) before you spend your hard earned dollars!
Last, but not least! Don’t forget your budget. DO make sure you have saved enough to pay for this trip, or have a plan on how you will pay it off once you return. For more information on budgets, you might be interested in my ‘Just The Basics Please! Book 1: Money”.