While Reducing Expenses: Go on Vacation!!
Talking about reducing expenses, how about taking a vacation? You are probably saying, I thought we were talking about saving money here. We are. But, everyone needs a vacation from time to time, so while you are on the road to losing debt, it’s okay once in a while to take a short detour and enjoy the sights.
Many people live within a short drive of a national park or other tourist location. We live just over two hours from the beach, there you go! There are 22 million websites with the text “Cheap Hotels.” some of the larger ones are Expedia http://www.expedia.com, Travelocity http://www.travelocity.com, and Hotwire http://howtolosedebt.com/HW which also provides hotel “ratings.”
I am not particularly fond of just booking a hotel sight unseen, because you never know what it looks like or the neighborhood it’s in until you get there. I can remember staring out the window of our hotel all night long at our brand new Nissan Maxima sitting in the parking lot, hoping it didn’t get stolen.
Therefore, if you have never seen the hotel before, you may want to join AAA http://www.aaa.com. They provide tour books free of charge that have ratings on each hotel. There are other “rating” companies like Tripadvisor http://www.tripadvisor.com and Hotels.com http://www.hotels.com. Most let you book the hotels directly through their sites. It is important to shop around.
Another form of “cheap” vacation is to go on a cruise. It is obviously more expensive if you need to fly to the port, or if you drink significantly on board. Many cruise lines will now let you carry your own beer and wine on board. They do, however, feed you, boy do they feed you.
There are 1,970,000 websites with the text “last minute cruises.” by booking at the very last minute, most cruise lines want to fill their ships, and will “sell” the rooms at a discount. While you may not get your choice of rooms, you can surely cruise for less than the standard advertised rate.
There are sites like:
CruseDirect http://www.cruisedirect.com, and
We have used SmartCruiser http://howtolosedebt.com/SM as well, with good results.
You have to understand there are two different ways that cruise booking companies work. Some companies go in and buy, that is guarantee, that they will buy a certain number of rooms. Those rooms are then removed from the available rooms from the cruise line’s website, but that does not mean they are not available from the booking company that bought them.
Other booking companies only book the room that you are seeking, so they have somewhat less control on availability. The companies that buy large blocks of rooms want to get as high of a price as possible while not getting “stuck” with the room. The other companies make a profit based on the discounted rate they get from the cruise lines and what they “sell” it to you for.
Therefore the booking companies that purchase individual rooms do not have as much flexibility in rates as the ones that guarantee the booking. At the end of the cruise booking period, the booking companies that have guaranteed blocks of rooms will even sell the room at a loss to not get stuck with it. They do this because they made enough profit on the rooms that they did sell. So you may be able to get a better deal with them. I will say, you need to do your homework, because there will be no sign on the website that says which business model a particular website is using.
I would be neglectful in any discussion about booking vacations if I didn’t mention one other site, and that is Priceline http://www.priceline.com.
The “ambassador of entertainment” in my house is my wife Lisa. We always said she missed her calling; she should have been a travel agent. She actually loves to shop for a bargain. Frankly, I can’t stand it.
You know, men go right into a store, buy what they came for and walk out. Women shop, peruse, hunt for bargains, use discount coupons, combine discounts, etc. It is not unusual for her to come home with an outfit that she paid $10 for, which would regularly sell for $80 or even higher. She sees it as a personal challenge that she is going to win.
Priceline has an unusual business model. Sure, you can book hotels, rental cars, etc. through them like you do any other of the large websites like Expedia or Travelocity. The curve in their business model is they let you set your own price, a bid.
Now picture yourself an owner of a 200-room hotel which sells for $150 per night per room. If you were sitting there with 100 vacant rooms, which is better, to have the rooms sit vacant, or to “sell” them for less than the standard going rate, but fill them up? This is what makes the Priceline model so effective. You get to tell them what you are willing to pay for a room in their hotel. They either accept your bid and you get the room cheaper, or they refuse it, and there is no sweat off your back.
If your bid is covering their “cost” with some profit, there is absolutely no reason they won’t accept it. The “ambassador of entertainment” taught me this trick, along with many others. It works just as well with rental cars. The car either sits on their lot unused, or they accept your bid and at least make some money for the day. Capiche?
The Priceline model won’t work if you absolutely need to be in a specific location on a specific day, or if your bid is so low the company won’t recoup their costs. However, if you’re flexible with your dates, this is a great way to shave a few dollars off your vacation expenses.
Did you know that most hotels will give you incentives to stay over Sunday night, when most rooms are vacant? Anyway, my wife will spend weeks on end searching for the best deals before we book a vacation. Isn’t she great? I get to go on nice vacations, while spending the least amount possible, becoming or now staying free from debt. You can too, but you will need to find your own ambassador of entertainment!
erika hanson brown
STELLAR Connections LLC
“connecting leaders – for biz”
denver, co usa
303.351.4103 – add’l voice mail
“…..word of mouth epidemics are the work of Connectors.” Malcolm Gladwell – The Tipping Point