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For the past couples of years, Americans have lost the advantage of currency value due to rising national debt and struggling economy. Ten years ago, traveling wouldn’t hurt pockets so much because the US dollar was stronger than most foreign currencies. When that isn’t the case, like present day, there are some tricks to traveling to get the vacation you want without breaking the bank:
Enroll in Mileage/ Hotel Royalty Program
Most of these memberships do not require you to sign up for a credit card; however, you will earn benefits much faster with one. Earning miles while spending on necessities such as gas and groceries sounds like a win-win situation. Most members will at least score a domestic round trip ticket within a few months of becoming a member. For example, Citi AAdvantage will give you 30,000 miles if you spend $1000 within the first 3 months. The dollars spent and the actual miles flown will help you claim reward tickets faster than you can imagine. Your best bet is to sign up with the airline based in your city or your preferred airline.
The idea of using a website such as Priceline.com may not appeal to many people because of the fear of ending up with an undesirable property; however, the result can surprisingly be a great deal. It is not uncommon to score a five star hotel in Las Vegas for bidding as low as $120 or a four star property in Miami during high season for just $100 (keep in mind you’ll still have to pay taxes and other applicable fees on top of your bid). These deals are so good, and you won’t find it from the hotels’ website. The downside of hotel bidding is there’s no cancellation, so it may not be a good idea if you are uncertain about taking a vacation or if you have a specific hotel in mind. What everyone should know about this bidding system is it’s not completely blindsided. You can choose the location where the hotel is located in (ie. Midtown, New York) and then you choose the star. If you select a 5 star hotel in Midtown, the website will not send you to a 3 star hotel in Brooklyn. It’s either they take your bid, or they don’t.
Know Your Choice of Transportation
Whichever transportation method you decided to go with, stick with it. For example, if you head to Europe, you may want to consider buying a rail pass and use the rail system for most of your trip. Swiss Pass, for instance, is a great buy for those going to Switzerland since it covers not only rail networks, but it also grants you free access to local transportation systems (bus, boat, trams, etc.) and more than 400 museums! Going back and fourth between car rental and rail will end up costing you unnecessary expense, plus you’re not really making the most out of anything here.
Make Your Own Itinerary
The good thing about coming up with your own itinerary, other than saving yourself some big bucks, is only seeing and doing the things you want. To get trip ideas, visit escorted tour company websites to see what their itinerary includes in terms of places and activities. After looking at a few of them, pick out the ideas that stand out to you the most.
Always shop around. Never purchase something from the first website you see, chances are you’ll see the exact same product being cheaper on another website. And once you make a changeable purchase or reservation, it’s recommended that you check back once in a while to see whether or not the price has dropped.