Travel Cheap

Here is how we save on travel…
You can save a fortune on travel if you are willing to be a little creative and use some little known secrets. This section explains how we save when we travel.

Ok, here we go. Our first tip is super easy and some of you probably already use it.

Priceline.com

Whether you want to go on this site to book hotels, flights, car rentals or all of the above, priceline.com really is a good deal. The best part about this site is that you can bid on your trip and get a smokin deal…sometimes up to 60% of the regular cost! We have booked numerous hotel rooms and rental cars from this site, sometimes getting rental cars for only $16.00 a day. Once you have an account set up and a valid credit card, the process is very simple. You fill in all your info, put in a bid and you know within minutes if your bid has been accepted. Depending on the season and area of travel, you can get some great hotel deals. We recently got a room in Las Vegas for $20 a night. With travel that cheap, you have no excuse but to keep travelling!!

How to travel cheap

Our family loves to travel, however like most people we have limited resources. Our view is the more we save per trip, the more trips we are able to take. Thus we have searched out and discovered many ways to save money on flights, cars and hotels. This section lists the different methods we use.

Accommodations
Depending on the length of our stay and the area we are traveling to we have stayed both in vacation home rentals and hotels for much cheaper than booking a regular hotel room.

Vacation Homes

We have rented vacation homes in Orland, Florida; Phoenix, Arizona and Las Vegas, Nevada. We have never had a bad experience. Having said that we did do our homework and read reviews from others that have stayed at the homes we were renting.

In some cases you will be dealing with the home owner directly and in others you will be dealing with a management company that manages several homes in the area. We have had good luck with both. Management companies tend to have more defined/rigid policies where the home owners tend to be more flexible. For an example a home we rented in Phoenix that was stocked with food in the cupboards and beer in the fridge with a note asking that we replace anything we use. You will never find this when renting from a management company. It is more like renting a hotel room. Either way is fine with us.

There are advantages to renting a vacation home and there are some disadvantages:

Advantages

You can often rent an entire house for the price of a hotel booked without using our strategies.
Often the homes will have a private pool and spa.
Backyard for the kids to burn off steam.
Many homes have a BBQ/Grill you are able to use.
You can save a fortune just eating breakfast at home. Pancakes for 5 of us at an iHop once cost us $70.
Everyone gets their own bedroom. An entire family cooped up in a hotel room can be stressful at times.

Disadvantages

It is a bit more work to find, research, book, check in and check out of a vacation home.
With the hotel strategies listed here you can usually get a hotel cheaper than a vacation home, but it really is not a fair comparison.
You are able to cook in a vacation home. You may not want to cook on vacation.
You need to clean up after yourself during your stay. This includes making beds, washing dishes and taking out the trash.
The costs can add up as you are often charged extra for pool heat and the final cleaning.

If you are interested in looking at vacation homes, here are a few links that we use. There are some horror stories out there, so remember to read the reviews that other travellers have left. People we know rented a house in Phoenix for the winter only to find out a week before they left that the owners had to sell the house due to the recent economic times. They did get their deposit back, but were left scrambling to find a place to stay for 2 months last minute.

VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals By Owner)

Hotels/Resorts

Our main source of cheap hotel rooms is www.Priceline.com. We also use www.Hotwire.com, but we prefer Priceline as we usually get a slightly better deal there. We are sure there are a couple different strategies to get the best deal possible on hotels and we are going to describe the way we do it.

Go to www.Priceline.com and select “Hotels” from the top menu bar.
Type the city you would like to stay in, the dates and the number of rooms.
Press “Search Now”
The search page automatically shows “All Areas” in your selected city. From the drop down box, select the area you prefer to stay in and hit “Update List” on the right side of the page.
Look through the hotels displayed and if there are any that have bad reviews or do not appeal to you make a note of the star rating of the hotel. We will bid on hotels above the star rating of the undesirable hotel later in the process. If there are any hotels you would prefer to stay at make a mental note of its star rating and the retail price of that hotel.
Select the “Name your own price” link on the right hand side of the page.
Follow the steps outlined on this page.
1) Select the area you would like to stay in
2) Select the Star rating of the hotel you would prefer. If you have any you would like to avoid, select a star rating above that hotel. NOTE: the hotels in that were displayed in the search results you selected earlier will typically be the hotels you will be bidding on.
3) Take the price you made a note of from your original search and bid 60% of this price to start off with. The percentage you can take off and achieve a winning bid will be different depending on the city and area you are travelling to. NOTE: You can also go to www.hotwire.com and enter the same search criteria you searched for on Priceline and see what the hotels in your star rating are going for. This will give you a good idea of what you will need to bid, but I start lower than the Hotwire prices and frequently get the hotel for cheaper than listed on Hotwire.
Enter the name to be assigned to the hotel room/s and login to your Priceline account. If you do not have an account you will need to sign up for one.
Click the “Next” button.
Review the details of your hotel and ensure everything is correct. There is no changing once the hotel is paid for.
You can select trip cancellation insurance if you like, but read the fine print as it only covers emergency type reasons for cancelling. I typically don’t buy it.
Type your initials in the appropriate box and select the method of payment. NOTE: Once you go to the next step your credit card will be charged if your bid is accepted.
There is a short time delay and you will know if your bid was accepted. If it was accepted, congratulations. If not you will need to wait 24 hours to bid again.
When you bid again, increase your bid slightly and try again.

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