I previously said that there is one travel tip that will help you save money (and have more fun)—on EVERY trip.
#1 Travel Tip for Saving Money
*** Be FLEXIBLE ***
Two other past articles showed how you can save money and have more fun by being FLEXIBLE when booking air travel and lodging.
This post will show some ways to be FLEXIBLE about car rentals and cruise vacations—and SAVE MONEY:
* Be Flexible About Getting Car Rental Discounts
Perhaps the best way to get lower car rental rates is to use discount codes. For most car rentals I use AAA and Costco discounts with Hertz and National (but will use other discount codes and other firms on occasion). Discount codes can be listed in magazine and newspaper ads, emails, and websites. Here is a link to a list of National discount codes on FlyerTalk.com. Hotwire and Priceline offer discounted rental cars in a reverse-auction process. CarRentals.com compares rates for several major and discount car rental firms.
* Be Flexible About Using a Rental Car
You can save 100% of the rental car cost when you do not rent a car. If you are staying in a city or popular tourist destination, for instance, rely on public transportation instead of a rental car. You will also save money by not paying a daily parking fee that most downtown hotels charge.
* Be Flexible Where You Pick Up Your Rental Car
Airport fees and taxes can increase the daily rate by an additional 50%. When possible, consider renting cars from off-airport locations—the daily rate and extra fees will be less. Hertz has local offices called Local Editions or HLE. Most Enterprise locations are not at airports. Most other car rental firms have neighborhood locations. Smaller car rental firms usually have lower rates–for example, try Ace or E-Z in Ft. Lauderdale.
* Be Flexible Who You Use to Book Cruises
To get lower prices on cruises, find a seller that specializes in that cruise line—usually called a preferred seller. For instance, All Seasons Travel consistently offers the lowest prices on Disney Cruises (lower than Disney or any other travel agent). Find the preferred seller of your cruise line of choice and you will get the best rate.
* Be Flexible When You Book Cruises
The lowest cost cabins are the first to be sold. Book your cruise vacation as early as possible to get the lowest priced cabin and best promotions. Some itineraries are released 18 months before sailing, so shop EARLY. Last minute cruise deals are often available but the destinations, itineraries, ship, or other factors may be undesirable. If you are FLEXIBLE, book cruises during slow periods—for instance, a Caribbean cruise during early-mid January rather than over New Year’s Eve.
* Be Flexible How You Spend Money on Cruises
Watch the add-on prices! Cruise rates are all-inclusive (includes lodging, food and drink, activities) and the only other “mandatory” expense is gratuities. Many additional opportunities are available at extra charge, including shore excursions, upgraded dining, alcoholic and soft drinks, spa services, shopping, gambling, and incidentals (photos, internet access).
* Be Flexible About Cruise Alternatives
Many veteran cruisers want different and fun options. Three alternatives are ferries, charters, and freighters. Many travelers every year opt to see Alaska’s Inside Passage from the Alaska State Ferry rather than a large ship. They can build their own itineraries, getting off and on where and when they want, having more fun and saving money. Boat charters may or may not be less expensive than mainline cruises but are definitely more fun. Boats of various sizes and styles, in various locations, can be chartered (rented/hired) with a crew or not (bareboat). Chartered boat itineraries can be as flexible and exciting as the renter wants, not at the mercy of the cruise line. Freighter travel is an informal, flexible option to traditional cruises. Passengers travel on, yes, freighters, with different ports of call than commercial cruises, as freighters are delivering and picking up goods. Freighter cruises are longer (usually over 30 days), carry a maximum of 12 passengers, and usually have many single occupancy cabins.
* Anything Else?
How about you? Do you have any other general areas of flexibility for getting cheaper car rental or cruise deals? Leave your comments below. Thank you. Future posts will describe travel tips in greater detail.