With the ongoing credit crisis, rising inflation and a weakening dollar, taking that much-deserved vacation might seem tough to do this year. But fear not! For discerning travelers, there are still some great deals to be had and plenty of ways to stretch your dollar. Here are the top 10 tips for getting the most out of your vacation buck in 2008.
1. Seek out off-peak periods. The best deals tend to fall right after Labor Day. Yes, the kids will miss some school, but you’ll save a ton of dough.
2. If you plan to travel internationally, seek out places where the dollar is still comparatively strong. Argentina, South Africa, Thailand, and Costa Rica are a few of the places where the greenback still has a lot of power.
3. Buy a vacation package. Combining hotel and air reservations often yields a lower price than a la carte purchases.
4. Travel with another family. Sharing the cost of gas, food and rental car is a great way to keep expenses in check.
5. Rent a house and cook your meals. Dining out every day can quickly add up to what you paid for your flight or more! If you rent a home or condo, you can prepare many of your own meals—and you get a ton of other benefits like more space and more privacy, often at a fraction of the cost of a luxury hotel. Sites like Rooster.com are great places to find vacation rentals.
6. Go abroad at Thanksgiving. When everyone else is jockeying to get to Aunt Rose’s place in Milwaukee, you can avoid the madness and find some great deals overseas.
7. When exchanging currency, use a bank instead of your hotel. Hotels charge some of the highest processing fees of any institution.
8. On road trips, make sure your tires are properly inflated and get a tune up before you go. You’ll get better gas mileage with tires that are properly inflated and you reduce the risk of emergency repairs if you have your car serviced in advance.
9. Consider voluntourism or a service trip. These trips are very affordable since a good portion of your cost is covered in exchange for the service you provide. The Sierra Club has been running service trips for decades—leading groups of people into some of the world’s most beautiful places, while giving back to the planet at the same time.
10. Book now. If you know you’re going to travel this summer or fall, you should lock in rates as soon as possible. With fuel costs expected to rise throughout the summer, air fare and hotel rates are likely to increase as well.
And always keep an eye out for deals. TravelMuse works to uncover great vacation bargains each week. You can read about them in our Travel News section. By registering at TravelMuse.com, you will automatically receive our weekly newsletter.