Category Archives: News

Booking Your Vacation Online – How To Find A Deal And The Best Locations

It is coming to that time of year that we have all been looking forward to for many months, summer vacation time. We have managed to make it through the cold and dark, wet and windy long winter days where it is dark when we get up for work and dark when we get home from work and now it is time to look forward to some heat from the sun to warm our bones. The summer vacation market has changed a lot in the past 10 years, the way we choose our vacation, the places that we go to and what we look to do when we get there is all very different than years gone by. The main reason for this broadening of the summer vacation market has been the growth of the inter web as well as the amount of cheap airlines that are now in operation and flying to countries that previously people would not have had the option nor inclination to travel to. So with the development and widening of the holiday market what should you be looking for in you vacation this year?

Depending on what you like doing and what your family circumstances are you have no end of choice as far as a holiday goes. No civilized part of the world is out of bounds these days, barring those that are war zones and many people still choose to holiday in war torn countries. Even places like Antarctica are accessible now in what is called eco tourism where the impact to the environment is kept to a minimum but allows tourists to experience relatively untouched parts of the globe. Eco-tourism is not for everyone but it is a vacation option that was mostly un-heard of 10 years ago that is becoming more popular each year.

In many countries the inter web has radically changed to way we book our holidays, it use to be the case that straight after the January sales people would flock into the local travel agent to see what deals were available for the summer. It used to be that the earlier that you booked the better the deal that you got. The internet has done away with the need for that by allowing people to find flights, accommodation and car hire online for almost any country on earth, and this has had the effect of closing many travel agents down or making them streamline their operations inline with the market. Arranging your own holiday online could not be easier really, you get to choose the type of accommodation that you want, whether it be hotel, apartment or villa as well as choosing the location that best caters for your needs and as long as there is a flight to the local area you are all sorted.

Even some of the less traditional summer holiday locations are just as easy to book now. Emerging holiday destinations such as Croatia, Estonia and Bulgaria are as easy to book as traditional holiday destinations such as Italy, France and Spain. Many of the emerging countries offer better value summer rental accommodation than more traditional locations as well as offering a more unspoilt location with a more traditional feel about them. Summer rentals in Bulgaria  , Estonia, Croatia and even in Hungary are now becoming very popular as people realize that they will receive a warm welcome from very hospitable locals in a wonderful location.

Many of the emerging countries are able to offer totally unspoilt countryside as well as some magnificent hotels that take full advantage of the spectacular scenery to be had and most of these locations are within easy reach of an airport that is serviced by a low cost airline.

So this year if you have not booked your holiday yet why not look further a field and go solo and book your holiday online from start to finish. You may find a really special hotel that the main agents do not have and you will probably save yourself a bit of money as well.

 

How to Save Money Looking For Last Minute Travel Deals

Traveling at the last minute used to be a stressful and expensive enterprise. These days, there are so many deals that you can get, it almost seems better to wait until the last minute to leave. You might even be able to save as much as three fourths of the cost of pre-planning your travel.

If you are on a budget and plan on taking a trip, you may be able to save a considerable amount of money by reading tips on how to get a cheap last minute travel deal. One of the reasons why you can save on things like hotels, and air fare is because many people cancel their travel plans at the last minute or simply fail to show up on time.

This common phenomenon means that hotels and airports are forced to make last minute cancellations that can lose them thousands of dollars. Companies would much rather book rooms and fare at cheaper prices than lose out all together.

Since leisurely travel has decreased tremendously in the past few years, companies are forced to offer implement deals just fill the seats. Offering cheap last minute travel deals helps them to make up for the loss in frequent travel revenue.

The downside is that these cheap prices don’t last long so you should try to act as quickly as you can. Here are 5 quick tips to getting your travel costs cheap when you are working at the last minute.

1. Think of buying your travel package in a bundle as well since travel agents often purchase packages that way and if there are last minute cancellations, they will be eager to unload them. Take advantage of it. Call around and see what you can find.

2. Do your research. Calling airports or looking up deals online can save you a lot of time and money. Check various deals before deciding on one.

3. Be willing to fly standby or take a smaller rooms in exchange for your last minute planning because some companies are willing to work out a deal just to make a booking as opposed to losing their money all together.

4. If possible, look to travel to places that are off season. You can always find a cheaper rate when you travel somewhere during an off season because travel to that destination is generally undesirable to most travelers.

5. Take full advantage of any and all prepackaged deals. Usually when you are travelling you can find prepackaged deals that can save you hundreds of dollars. These packages usually include: hotel rooms, travel expenses and some amenities.

In the end, if you are willing to do your research, you can find excellent discounts when you just do a little bit of research. You don’t want to miss a potential savings bonanza just because you didn’t feel like sitting in front of your computer or making a few phone calls to inquire.

Sometimes bundles are cheaper and sometimes booking things separately will save you more. That is why shopping around and doing a bit of research is really worth the time.

 

How to Find Cheap Travel

Student travel has come a long way in the past few decades. It is no longer considered a rarity. Gap years, student electives abroad and cheap summer holidays in distant places, have become part of the generally life-enriching experience that is now considered synonymous with the student status. (Frost F et al., 1999)

The current financial climate, with many students having to rely on student loans, parental support, holiday jobs or personal savings for their financial fluidity, largely dictates and limits just what can be achieved in this regard and there are a number of ploys and strategies that are commonly used to make the money go further or, to look at it another way, to allow the same money let the student go further! (Reisinger Y et al., 2004)

We can start by taking an overview of the situation and dividing up the travel costs into those that are necessary to arrive at a destination and those that are necessarily incurred to move around once the student has arrived.

Generally speaking, the preferred way to travel is by flying. It is often the quickest way to travel long distances and in these days of competitive pricing strategies, many of the no-frills and budget airlines are offering very cheap flights across mainland Europe. The unwary student should note that the eye-catching prices quoted are invariably exclusive of taxes and fuel surcharges which can add between £30-£200 onto the quoted cost (depending on destination and distance).

As a general rule, the cheaper the flight, the greater the sacrifice of both flexibility and conditions. A flight that arrives or leaves in the early hours of the morning, does not supply food, has minimal in-flight entertainment and a strict baggage allowance, is clearly going to cost less than one that has additional amenities. A word of caution also for these flights as there are generally strict terms and conditions, limited changeability and minimal prospect of refund if there’s a problem.

Cheap flights are at the other end of the spectrum from cheap holidays. With holidays the greatest savings are made by those who are willing to book at the last minute. With flights, the converse is true. As flights get booked up, the prices tend to rise. (Bernstein J et al., 1999)

Two of the most commonly used mechanisms for obtaining cheap flights are flight-brokers and screen scrapers. The flight brokers make their money by selling you a flight that gives them a commission. There is therefore a balance between the amount of commission that an airline pays them to fill their seats and the requirements of the student. The screen scrapers are web-based tools such as TravelSupermarket, TravelJungle, and SkyScanner. You effectively enter your requirements and these sites send the details to dozens of airlines (and some brokers) and display their findings with the cheapest first. (Sheth A et al., 2002)

There are variations on this process with sites like Expedia and Travelocity specialising in long-haul flights and Expedia and Opodo allowing flights to one airport then leaving from another. Flights Direct will specifically examine the charter market for occasional bargains.

If you intend to fly on certain dates a few months in the future, it is well worth signing up to the e-mail lists of the appropriate airlines. They will send out details of short-term sales so that you can snap them up at the right moment if they come up. British Airways, Opodo, American Airlines and KLM are particularly good for this type of approach.

Once at the destination, the student has to consider the best way of travelling around. Rather like the airlines, one pays for convenience, accessibility and comfort – the cheapest forms of travel generally being the slowest and least luxurious. It is clearly impossible to generalise throughout the world, but hitch-hiking, which might have once been considered the cheapest way to travel, has a distinct risk element of personal safety and clearly is inappropriate for the lone female traveller. Many of the commercially available insurance policies specifically forbid such practices. (Cullinane S, 2002)

Public transport is often the most reliable of the cheaper options. Either the local busses, the long-haul coaches or the train services being generally safe and reliable. Many of the more developed countries offer student travel cards (or a variant) to reduce the costs of repeated journeys and some bus companies (Australia travel being a notable example) will sell an open ticket between two specified destinations which can be used with different segments of the journey being undertaken over a period of several weeks.

There are other considerations relating to travel such as how best to deal with money. The time-honoured way of carrying travellers cheques may no longer be popular, with many students electing for the convenience of “plastic” money and credit cards. One should note that Mastercard will generally convert foreign exchange transactions at about the best commercially available rate, but will then add about 2.75%. This does vary between cards and therefore should be individually checked. Overseas cash withdrawals are also usually subject to a 2% additional fee (minimum charge £2) on both credit and debit cards. In addition to all of this, some credit card companies will also add a transaction fee on foreign transactions. (Halifax is currently the worst, levying £1.75 on each transaction.) For the student, the Post Office or Nationwide credit cards appear to be the best option. They have no levy on overseas purchases but they do charge interest on all cash withdrawals.

As with all travel, insurance is not essential, but only the most foolhardy student would travel without it. The annual multi-trip insurance is seldom competitive except for the USA where it may work out cheaper than individual trip cover (mainly because of the medical expense element applicable to the USA). Most will require you to be staying at pre-booked venues which may not be appropriate for the student traveller.

Decide what cover you need, what excess you need (the first part of each claim that you have to pay yourself) and then shop around. The classic insurance selling line is “why not upgrade to our platinum policy, with £30 million worth of medical cover etc.” In real terms, the chances of you ever needing more than £2 million of medical cover or repatriation to the UK is virtually negligible and therefore perhaps best avoided. A good plan is to include a personal liability cover of £1 million and also cover for “cancellations and curtailments” together with cover for lost or delayed baggage and cash.

You should note that Europe-only cover is cheaper than further afield and therefore only select wider cover if it is appropriate. Lastly, ensure that the company you are dealing with is covered by FSA regulated underwriters.