Here's my travel tips: Return to Kuder's Home Page Website Index (site index)
1. Before you book that great hotel deal on the internet (or through a travel agent), take one more step and call the hotel, directly. Often they will offer a discount directly that beats the one they offered through a middleman. Sometimes they even have a toll free number for you to find out. However, for best results, don't call the 800 number for a whole chain of hotels. Those folks are order-takers, who aren't aware of the specials at the local hotels and don't have the authority to negotiate. Call the individual hotel you will be staying at and speak to the reservations manager.
2. For free and timely information on cities you plan to visit, write to their Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Information Center and ask for their "official visitor's guide." You often will get very valuable information, sometimes even discount coupons. Miami, Orlando, Las Vegas and Texas state have very elaborate guides. You can get the address from the internet, some travel books and phone books in your public library.
3. Spring and Fall are the bargain seasons for most warm climate vacation areas. The reason: People in cold climate areas like to vacation in warm-climate areas in the Winter. More people travel in the summer because schools are out and many companies encourage travel in the summer. Therefore the crowds are less and the prices lower in the Spring and Fall, when the weather is the best. Las Vegas is an exception- its crowded year-around on the weekends, and the slow time is weekdays.
4. AARP is a no-brainer for anyone over age 50. You will save many times over the $12.50 annual membership fee. You need not be retired and your membership includes your spouse, even if he or she is under age 50. Contact info: 1-800-424-3410, www.aarp.org, 601 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20049.
5. When traveling to a big city, like New York, San Francisco or London, don't bother with renting a car. The subways are always much faster and less expensive.
6. Travelers usually overestimate the amount of clothes they need to take and underestimate the amount of money. If your stay is for 3 days or less, pack a change of clothes for each day. If your stay is longer- pack no more than four changes of clothes and either wear the same clothes more than 1 day each or use a laundry. If you are on a low budget, take some detergent and use a Laundromat, otherwise have the hotel do it. Most airlines now limit luggage weight to50 pounds per bag for all coach passengers.
7. Regarding money to take- don't take checks, they take too much time to get approved and cash and too many places won't take them. Take a major credit card. Double check your available balance before you leave. Tell your credit card holder you will be traveling, so that you won't get a credit card denial for spending more than you usually do. Credit card companies will sometimes do that for your security. Visa and MasterCard are accepted almost everywhere- world-wide. In foreign countries you only need enough foreign currency for public transportation and fast food places. Your hotel, restaurants and shops will take your credit card.
8. In crowded urban areas- use a neck pouch for valuables. It stops pick-pockets and is easy for you to get to.
9. When vacationing in Florida pick up Traveler Discount Guide and On the Go Magazine. Both are available free at fast food restaurants and other vendors located near all Interstate exits and are updated quarterly. Well-know hotel chains offer coupons often representing half price. Budget hotels in the $30 to $40 dollar range are plentiful. Best bargains, of course, in slack seasons.
10. Have your big meal at lunch time. You will often get the same food for less money and better service because, its less crowded.
11. Regarding those famous bargain meals in Las Vegas- you have to look for them. Not every eating establishment is a bargain. If you want to visit the Rio hotel for their famous buffet- don't walk- you will have to cross over a busy expressway overpass, and a free shuttle from the strip is available.
12. Get one of those suitcases on wheels. Its much easier to move around the airports. Also put a large distinctive sticker or patch on it (securely attached), so you can spot your bag easily at the baggage claim area. Put another identification inside your luggage, in case the outer ID comes off on the baggage handling equipment. Have your cell phone number on the IDs, so they can call you while you are on your vacation.
13. When vacationing to Disney World, stay in Kissimmee or on International Drive in Orlando. In these areas, you are not more than a 15 minute drive from the Park and many hotels have free shuttle service. Nice rooms at under $40 per night can easily be found. Those glitzy hotels around Bay Lake inside the park start at $165 per night and are almost never discounted.
14. When it comes to timeshares, you might want to avail yourself of some of the free bonuses they offer to bribe you into listening to their spiel, but don't even consider for moment buying one. Timeshare companies have been known to offer free stays at their place with meals included, merchandise and even cash to pull you in. If their offer is worth $50, for instance, and costs you an hour of your time- that's a pretty good trade-off. I'm assuming that if you made much more than $50 per hour, you wouldn't be reading this magazine. However, people who actually buy timeshares are like people who buy lottery tickets, they apparently don't understand basic math. If you pay $10,000 for a one-week timeshare (typical cost in Orlando), the seller is making $10,000 X 52 (=$520,000) for the sale of that unit. In case you are not familiar with Florida real estate values- that's about 10 times the value of a luxury suite-sized unit. That's how they can afford to give away lavish gifts to hundreds of prospects who don't buy. Analyzed another way, if you were one of those rare persons who actually kept your timeshare for as long at 20 years, then the $10,000 would allocate to $500 per week, but you have also got to pay maintenance fees- a conservative estimate would be $200 per year. That would make the daily cost for your week $100. At that price you could rent a luxury suite in Orlando, with money left over for meals. If you kept the unit less than 20 years (a far more likely scenario), your daily cost would go up drastically. If you think the salvage value of the unit would be enough to be worthy of entering into this calculation, check the newspaper classifieds of resort areas, and call the sellers to see if they have had any nibbles. To minimize the amount of time you have to spend for your free bonus- don't try to convince the salesperson that he's offering a bad deal. He's on a straight commission and has a pat answer to anything you could say. Just politely make it very clear that under no circumstances are you the least bit interested, you only came for your bonus. Its illegal for them to refuse to give it to you, and he will want to move on to a better prospect once he is convinced that you are not a prospect.
15. Money management 101: Follow this advice and you will have more money to spend on your lifetime vacations and more time to enjoy them. Live well within your means. Always save at least l0% of your gross pay, no matter what. Make that percentage higher, if you can. Read the Richest Man in Babylon by George Clayson, if you are not convinced of this principle. Don't finance anything except your home and your car. Invest in no-load mutual funds. If your company has any kind of profit-sharing or pension plan where they match- invest in that to the max. Otherwise, set up an IRA, if you qualify, and invest the max. Simple math proves that this formula, will increase your net worth to the 6-figures in about 20 years and to the million dollar level in about 30 years.
16. Entertainment Publications offers Two-for-One dinners in major U.S. cities. Pays for itself anytime you would use it four or more times. To order out of town editions, call 1-800-374-4464 or visit www.entertainmentbooks.com.
17 Know about rule 240. “If your flight is delayed or cancelled for any reason besides weather, the airline is required to put you on the next flight to your destination even if it’s not on their airline.” The rule still applies if the only seats on the next flight are first class.
18. Here are some more useful tips: http://www.spokesmanreview.com/blogs/WheelLife/archive.asp?postID=1376
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