A few weeks ago, I shared some of my cost savings tips for travel in a post from my “Small Savings” series. Here is part two, and the last of it (for now…I keep thinking of more!).
Travel in the times right before/after “peak season”. Ever notice when you look into a hotel’s rates…that sometimes you find that they’re in three buckets – high season, regular season, and low season? These seasons are supposed to correspond to popular holidays, and also the best times, weather wise.
However, the weather has changed a lot lately, if you haven’t noticed – it’s been hot in months that used to be cold, and vice versa. Rainy in dry season, and dry and rainy season. I almost never book at peak season prices anymore if I can help it (Thanksgiving and Christmas being the exception..hey, I have to use those vacation days!). Instead, I try and book either in regular season or even low..researching the weather patterns in the last few years. So far, it’s worked out fine.
Book through the right agent. Despite what we’ve been taught by Priceline commercials, it’s not always better to book through discount brokers, especially with luxury properties. Fair or not, you stand a much higher chance of being booked into that small, noisy room by the elevator…and the hotel may be less likely to respond to your complaints as well.
Instead, either book directly, or if it’s a luxury hotel, I recommend booking through a service such as American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts (available with the Platinum and Centurion cards) or a Virtuoso agent (which I use, as I no longer have a qualifying Amex). Bookings at valid hotels through the latter two usually gets you breakfast for two, and another amenity – all for no extra charge above what you’d pay on the hotel’s own website. Now you know why I always indulge in great calorie laden breakfasts, whenever we travel!
Brand names don’t always equal quality. I find this especially true for accommodations, less so for airlines – I’ve rarely been impressed by a U.S. carrier and never disappointed by Singapore/Cathay, which is pretty much in line with their reputations. For hotels though, quality and experience can vary widely. I am a huge fan of the Four Seasons, but there are a few properties in select locations when Four Seasons would be very low on my list. Unfortunately, almost all Ritz Carlton’s have been disappointing for me (except New York) and I’d much rather stay at the Double Tree down the street where the prices are lower and there are great cookies! Continue Reading