New Spring Road Trip Options Save Money And Time

March 20 is the first day of spring and for those in the northern plains of the United States, the day just can’t get here fast enough. Battered by late winter storms, spring road trip thoughts were put on hold as attention was drawn to record snowfalls. Spring will eventually get here. When it does, plans for a road trip might be just to get out of town with the destination unknown or a direct route to a popular spring break destination. Since spring of last year, the world of road trip gear has seen some new, helpful additions. Let’s take a look.

Drive A New Car
If the family auto is not quite in its best shape and buying a new car is more of a dream than a reality, why not rent one?

Becoming increasingly popular for road trips is renting a car from any one of a number of car rental companies that offer discounted weekend rates. Starting at $9.99 per day, Enterprise offers a weekend special that includes an Economy or Compact car rented on Friday and ending the following Monday that includes 100 miles per day.

Hertz has a similar deal for $14.99 when the vehicle is picked up on Thursday and returned on Sunday with unlimited miles.

Google Field Trip
Location-based apps can be helpful in a number of ways. HipGeo, LiveTrekker and other GPS-fired renditions can almost automatically produce a travel journal, tagging our photos, video and more without a lot of work. At the end of a trip, just a little editing can produce an accurate depiction of where we go plus what we see and do.

Google Field Trip’s value is simple. Using that same location-based technology, it runs in the background on your android (initially) and iPhone (new) smartphone then directly taps Google’s rich content, automatically popping up a card with details about the location.

Nice for road trips, settings allow audible notification, speaking the name of places only or the title and description. Better yet, a choice of allowing audio all the time or selecting when “headset is connected,” “bluetooth headset or audio is connected” or “device is docked” are available as well as “disable when driving.”

Users can also select areas of interest like architecture, lifestyle, historic places and events, food and others.

All the GPS In One Place
Back to Hertz we go for something entirely different and not on the market last year. Their new NeverLost GPS option promises the best of mobile technologies and traditional GPS devices to help plan and navigate road trips.

Hertz told Gadling that their NeverLost system “eliminates the need (and risk) of juggling a cellphone to get directions and find destinations while driving, allowing users to manage their entire trip at the push of a button,” in an email. That claim looks to be true and NeverLost does include some unique features we look to see in other auto-based GPS in-dash systems.

A unique feature is being able to access the program on a phone or computer to remotely enter destination addresses, rather than sitting in the car to add them before hitting the road.

Synced with their My Explore App for iPhone and android, NeverLost has an itinerary planner, suggested sights and events in the area and even (you guessed it) a social element (“hey you in the pickup, got your ears on?”).

Check this video for more on how nicely this one might fit into your spring road trip plans:

[Image credits – Flickr user Black Photo Studio / Hertz]

To Find Discounts On Travel, Know The Lingo

Discounts on travel
commonly come from a travel service provider’s attempt to promote their business. An airline may have extra seats to fill so they discount them, offering a better value. Hotels promote traditionally slow occupancy times in one way or another and cruise lines do much of the same. But how do we know what is really a good deal or just an effort to encourage us to buy?

Start by learning the difference between “special” and “featured” when considering travel pricing. Its a tactic other businesses have used for decades, one we expect to see in travel more in the coming years.

“Special, in the world of travel, will most often translate to “discount,” offering the same travel product for less.

Travelocity, for example, has a cruise vacation special that came to an end recently where buyers could get up to $500 cash to spend on their sailing, based on the price paid. Assuming that price is competitive, that’s adding value to the deal by giving us more than we paid for.

“Featured” in the world of travel services, commonly highlights destinations, modes of travel and other offerings by a travel company that they want us to know about. “Featured” may or may not be sold at a discounted price.

Hertz car rental, for example, has a weekend, unlimited mileage car rental deal featured. It’s priced at $14.99 per day on an economy or compact car when you pick-up from Thursday through Sunday at select participating airport or neighborhood locations.Easy way to remember: A restaurant’s “special” is commonly a bundled offering that, if priced separately, would cost more. That restaurant’s chef may have created a fabulous new menu item so it is being “featured” on the menu today.

This is just one small piece of the discount on travel puzzle, but an important one.

Except for travelers who have never been anywhere, ever, “feature” pricing most often deserves no more than a passing glance. Spend that time on travel products that offer “special,” not normal pricing where actual gains can be made.

Some other terms to know the difference between are “value-based” or “cost-based” pricing, as explained in this video-

[Photo Credit- Flickr user miskan]