Thursday, April 23, 2009

When was the last time you took a vacation? - Part 2

Now that I've gotten your attention about the importance of taking time off from work once in awhile, let's expand a bit from super-inexpensive weekend getaways to something a bit more ambitious.

Think package deals and discount offers, because you can save huge amounts of money by going that route. But how do you find out about them? Especially the super-secret, really great discount offers for airfare and hotels and package deals? Email, of course. If you google "discount travel website," you'll get more than 5 million results. Not all of those are going to be discount travel sites, obviously, but it does give you an idea of what's out there. Take a look around using a search engine, and find a few that offer email lists you can subscribe to. The two primary newsletters I keep a close eye on are Travelzoo and Vacations to Go. The first is a kind of clearinghouse for every manner of travel or vacation deal you can imagine, and the second is all about cruises (and more about that in a moment).

If you sign up for Travelzoo's newsletter, you'll get an email every Wednesday with their top 20 travel deals, which can range from airfare deals to discounted vacation packages to killer rates on hotels. They primarily link to other travel sites, so they're a good clearinghouse to keep an eye on. And if you don't want to wait for your weekly email, you can always surf over to their site and see what deals they're linking to. They even feature a "deals near you" search feature so you can look around for those inexpensive weekend getaways I talked about in Part 1 earlier today.

Vacations to Go is strictly about cruises, and they REALLY have the lowdown on all the lowest cruise prices. I have a love-hate thing with cruises, and I've been on three of them. And had a blast every time. The "hate" part comes from the fact that you're on a ship for most of the trip, and even the shore stops are brief and limiting, which is frustrating if you like to explore--which I do. But I also love cruises. The ships are beautiful, and if you just want to relax, you can sprawl out on a lounge chair all day, gaze at the sea, sleep, read, drink, or all of the above--whatever helps you relax. Cruises are also marvelous values, because everything is included (except booze). The food is usually outstanding, and with impressive variety, and--my number one favorite thing about cruises--there's 24-hour complimentary room service. You'll be amazed how quickly you become happily accustomed to having coffee and croissants (or whatever on the menu strikes your fancy) delivered to your room at whatever hour you desire. It's almost impossible to match the value for hotel and dining that you'll get on a cruise, so keep those in mind if you just need to unwind for a few days. If you live near a port, you can find 3- and 4-day cruises for about $199 per person, and if you're looking for longer excursions, the deals are even better when you break it down on a value-per-day basis.

In addition to those two sites for tracking all deeply discounted travel opportunities, sign up for emails from the big travel booking sites like Orbitz and Travelocity. They won't give you the smorgasboard of packages the big clearinghouse sites do, but they will alert you to steep discounts on air travel and hotels.

If you can sock away $50 or $100 a month, or save up a little overtime pay, the travel deals--really, really good travel deals--are out there by the score; it's just a matter of keeping an eye out for them, and snagging the one you want when you see it.

1 comment:

  1. Giving some time for yourself to relax and get away from all the stress from work is one of the best things in the world that you can enjoy once in a while. Since, we can't do that as often as we want, let's make that once in a blue moon experience worth it and memorable. And it will be best if we spend it with our family and/or friends. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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