Budget Travel Strategies To Ease Holiday Buying Pain

Budget travel bargains for the upcoming holidays are being rolled out by airlines, hotels, resorts, cruise lines and others to get our attention fast. Promises of double or triple miles by credit cards, free nights at hotels and discounts on everything from cruises to car rentals seem to be everywhere. Some offers have truly impressive value that makes us want to buy. Others reek of empty promises or deals available to a select few, discovered only after we get past the teasing headline.

Be realistic
Travel during the weeks that include Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Day, and New Years Eve and Day is traditionally priced higher than any other time of the year, and for good reason. More people travel during that time than almost any other weeks of the year, with the exception of the week that contains the Fourth of July holiday. That’s also premium priced.

Drop the crystal ball, plan on some hard work
The trick to value and easing the holiday buying pain is no big secret. There is no crystal ball that will tell us the exact time to buy that airline ticket. No magician will pull a fabulous hotel deal out of his hat. Finding the best values for holiday travel most often comes down to someone doing some hard work, thinking ahead and engaging the world of travel in a way that creates beneficial relationships.

Consider a travel agent
Travel agents know all about the work that goes into finding valuable travel options and are seeing a return of clients who abandoned them during the “click-to-book” era. As online sellers become more savvy at directing buyers to products they want to sell, consumers are coming up with fewer great online deals.

Use a variety of sources
For those who choose to go it on their own, signing up for email alerts, tracking the dollar movement of fares and bundling air with hotel and/or car rental is paying off. Armed with current information, at any given time from a number of sources, buyers are cherry-picking the best offers that apply to their travel needs and it’s working.

Make it social
Engaging travel sources by following and interacting with them on Twitter and Facebook can help too. That activity can open a valuable line of communication that can reveal flash sale bargains as well as give a direct line to those at a travel company who can do us some good later.

Signing up for email alerts is a good idea. Had I not done so, I might not have known about GoGo’s Holiday Jetpacks that give two all-day passes for $14.50, a nearly 50% savings off regular prices, during the holidays.

Plan Ahead
One of the best values for a cruise vacation often comes from booking while at sea for a future cruise. Those waiting until the last minute to book often come up with no ship to sail on. Looking for last-minute bargains is not a bad idea during off-peak travel times. For holiday travel, planning ahead is a far better idea.

Traditionally, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are a prime time to snag a great deal on travel.

“I tell people, ‘No matter what you do, travel one of these weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, if you really enjoy saving,'” said Clem Bason, president of the Hotwire Group in a Washington Times report. “It’s just this one sweet spot where things are emptier.”

Regardless of how we go about it, the trick to buying holiday travel is often no trick at all, it just boils down to having the right information, planning ahead and putting in the time to get it right.

[Photo Credit: Chris Owen]