Everyone knows that you can have a wonderful time with family and friends when you go on vacation or travel to a new and distant spot. However, sometimes disaster can arise when things don’t go quite as planned or anticipated. Here are some tips and hints that would help ensure that your getaway is affordable and trouble-free.
Be flexible. When booking your flight, don’t tell the reservation agent your travel dates up-front. Instead, ask the agent to check every fare for the itinerary you want within a range of dates. Ask for the cheapest fares first. If you’re flexible, you may be able to cut ticket costs.
Buy tickets after midnight on Tuesday in the time zone where the airline is based. Generally, airlines start airfare sales late on Friday, and competing airlines match the lower fares. They stop matching lower fares usually on Monday. Customers who book low fares are given 24 hours to purchase the tickets. All low fares that were booked on Monday but not purchased by midnight Tuesday are available for sale at that time.
Make hotel reservation at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. You’ll have a better chance of getting a low-rate from a front-desk clerk who understands that an unsold room is lost revenue. Call the hotel in the city you wish to visit directly. Don’t call the 800-number – you’re likely to reach a national reservation clerk.
Request weekend rates. At some hotels, weekend rates are one-third of the regular rates. If you plan to stay through the week, ask to have the cheaper weekend rate extended. Make sure that the price you are quoted reflects hidden costs, such as resort fees and taxes.
Consider alternative lodging. Many hostels now offer private rooms for $25.00 to $160.00 a night. For more information, log on to Hostelling International USA at [http://www.huisa.org]. Also, some colleges rent their dorm rooms at reasonable prices during vacation periods.
Book a cruise at the last minute. Frequently, vessels sail with empty berths. Many routes regularly have more berths than passengers. If you’re flexible, you could get great last-minute packages. Check with a travel agent or consolidator. Be aware that cruise lines now charge for extras that were previously included in packages, such as some recreational activities.
Contact the local rental location. Local operators can offer deals to reduce a temporary surplus or base on the local market. If you call the national toll-free number to make a reservation, you may not get the best price or the best car.
Whenever possible, avoid renting at airport lots, which can be more expensive than in-city ones. Compare local and national rates at RentalCars.com. Make sure you pay only for what you want and need. Here are some things to keep in mind when renting a car.
Extra insurance –
Your personal auto insurance may include rentals and the credit card company may provide coverage for damage to rental cars, but these may still not be enough. To maximize your coverage:
– Make sure you have sufficient collision and comprehensive coverage on your auto policy.
– Pay for the rental car with a credit card that provides additional coverage.
– Check for rental car companies that have an agreement with your insurance carrier to provide additional coverage. For example, USAA offers additional coverage for Avis, Budget, and Hertz cars in most locations in the United States.
Spare drivers –
Most companies let another person drive the car for free. But some charge extra for every other person who drives the car, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Ask before you reserve. Breaking the rules could affect your insurance protection. If your spouse has an accident, you may have to pay for the repairs out of your pocket.
Gassing up –
When returning the car, you have the option of filling it up yourself, prepaying for a full tank at a fixed per-gallon rate, or paying a refueling fee when you return with less fuel than you started with. Refueling fees can be extremely high. You might get a better rate if you fill it up yourself.
– If at all possible, return it where you picked it up, or be ready to pay more. Drop-off charge is based on the distance between pick up and drop-off point.
Late fees –
Return the car on time. Most rental agencies give you a one-hour grace period, but don’t test it. Returning it late can lead to high overtime charges.
The AAA makes the “summer driving season” sound so compulsory, as if something horrible will happen to you if you don’t clock a certain number of interstate miles by Labor Day. If you love taking road trips, here are some tips to make your trip smoother.
Leave early, stay late. To avoid peak traffic, especially during holidays, leave a day earlier than other travelers, and return a day earlier or a day later.
Know your route and have an alternative plan in case of heavy traffic or road closure. Carry a vehicle safety/emergency kit. Make sure your car is in top condition. Long summer travel puts a lot of stress on a car. Get a pre-trip checkup.
Tires should have sufficient treads. If you don’t know what to look for, have a mechanic check the entire width of your tire including the rims.
Brakes should be checked, usually by having a mechanic take off all four wheels. Note the thickness of the brake linings and shoes. The calipers, devices that cause friction as you press the brake pad, and the rubber hydraulic lines should also be checked.
Steering components, such as the front end and steering-related parts, including the ball joints and bushings, should be examined.
Take your time.
“It’s better late than sorry.” Plan extra time and arrive safely. Take breaks for 15 to 20 minutes every few hours and stretch your legs. Don’t forget to drink plenty of fluids. Don’t eat and run. Take a walk after eating to get your blood flowing.
When traveling with children, pack toys, books, games and snacks within reach to keep them occupied. Try a recorded story or sing-along. Also try these two tips. Hang a bag over the back of the front passenger seat to hold toys, bottles, crayons and other favorite items. Give older children maps of the United States and pencils, markers or pens. Then as you drive, they can look