We have been talking a lot about booking packages at Travelocity lately, even launching a new long-form advertisement with Connor and Dave O’Leary from The Amazing Race to tell people about how packages offer choice while saving time and money. All of this talk had me wanting to try it for myself, and to see just how much money I could save while still having a fun getaway trip. After returning from my trip last week, I wanted to sit down and share my top 5 tips for booking and enjoying a bargain vacation package yourself.
1) Find an amazing package offer: To find the best possible deal, I used the package promotion offered on the Travelocity home page that allowed me to book a “Flexible Vacation Package”. With this tool, I entered my departure city and number of days that I wanted to stay, and was presented with a wide array of price, time and destination offers. If you are not set on traveling to a specific place, this is a great way to find a package that suits your specific budget.
The package that I selected was a three day/two night hotel and flight package to Las Vegas for $149. Score!
2) Plan (and prepay) your activities: Being spontaneous is fun. And it can be expensive. Control your costs by planning what you want to do, and if it is possible, find deals before you go that allow you to prepay for the activity. You can find lots of things to do on the Travelocity “Things to Do” section, where you can purchase tickets in advance. Other tools include daily coupon sites (like Groupon) where you can also find pre-purchase some great bargains.
Before I left, I purchased tickets for the High Roller Observation Wheel, the Las Vegas Neon Museum and a couple of Groupons for 50% off meal specials. Not only did I score some bargains, I also had a better idea of my budget before ever stepping on the plane.
3) Know the rules and fees for your airline: An often overlooked budget-buster is the ancillary fees that can be part of any flight. Different airlines have different policies regarding checked bags, specific seat assignments – even boarding passes and carry-ons can incur fees on some airlines. Drinks and snacks are also not always free. To travel like a pro, know exactly what the rules and fees for your airline are, and plan and pack accordingly. By linking directly to airline fee schedules, Travelocity makes it easy to find the rules for your carrier by just going to this page.
By printing out my boarding pass at home, bringing my own snacks and a collapsible water bottle that I filled at the airport, and packing everything I would need into my small backpack, I was able to complete my flight while avoiding any additional out of pocket expenses.
4) Don’t forget about ground transportation: One area that is often overlooked while traveling on a budget are costs related to ground transportation. This includes transportation to and from the departure airport (or parking your own car at the airport), as well as transportation to and from the arrival airport to your hotel and anywhere that you might want to travel while you are on vacation. This can all add up.
I am lucky to live close to the airport here in Dallas, so I simply walked from my apartment to the remote parking lot, boarded a free shuttle, and was dropped off at the terminal. But not everyone has that option – so shop around for a shared shuttle service or offsite parking. (Some airport hotels have great parking-only rates and a free airport shuttle). Once at the destination airport, save on high cab fares by pre-booking a shuttle service on Travelocity – they can be found under the “Things to Do” tab.
Or, if you are not averse to public transportation, do as I did and order an unlimited municipal bus pass. Mine was mailed to my home, and will cover transportation to and from the airport, as well as anywhere else I want to go in Vegas for 20 bucks.
5) Find activities that are fun and free: In most cities, a little bit of internet searching will reveal a surprisingly large list of things to do that are absolutely free. Don’t choose an activity simply for the sake of free, but find those attractions that align with your personal interests.
I enjoy learning about (and drinking) microbrews, so I found a local brewery that offers free tours of their brewing process. Over many business trips to Las Vegas over the years, I have seen plenty of ads for the free Ethel M chocolate factory tour, so that was an easy choice. (Seriously, who doesn’t like chocolate?) And since I love old cars, an online coupon for free admission to The Auto Collections at the Linq made it an automatic addition to my itinerary.
By using all of the above tips, I still had a great time – and my total spend, including travel, food and entertainment for the three days was just a shade under $300. On to planning my next low-cost adventure!
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