My Frugal Frugal Ways

December 22, 2007, 10:50 am
Filed under: Travel

Travel during the off-season. That might vary from area to area so check ahead of time. In our town, we have a weekend event in the middle of winter during which hotels all charge top dollar. People who are traveling during that time and are totally unaware of it end up paying a premium when fatigue overcomes their desire for a less expensive alternative 45 miles down the road. You can always call hotels and ask if there are any special events occurring during the time you wish to visit their towns.

Many hotels, if less than half full or so, have negotiable rates. Check some of the online reservation services for prices before traveling and then stop by a few of the hotels to see if they’ll price match. Please, don’t go to an ocean front hotel and attempt to get the rate you were just quoted for the local flea bag. Be reasonable and you’ll find that most front desk clerks will work with you.

If you are going to be traveling during peak season, reserve your rooms as early as possible. For some hotels, rates go up as projected occupancy increases. If you book several months ahead of time, you can often get a rate that is less than the “walk in” price will be.

There are times when checking in early in the day will get you a better rate than if you wait until 10:00 p.m. Large hotels have more rooms to fill so, if it’s early in the day and they are still unsure of how many people they will get walking in, they will often offer a discounted rate. If you notice the hotel parking lots filling up, you may have waited too long to get the best bargain. But, if traffic is light, wait until later in the day because they’d rather have you in at a discounted price than leave the room empty and, at those times, they get more desperate about filling the rooms later in the day.

Be nice to the front desk clerk. Rudeness will get you nowhere.

Go camping. We got away almost every weekend during the summer when our children were young. We met lots of nice people in the campgrounds. And, by sleeping in a tent and cooking our own meals, it was very affordable. It’s also a good opportunity to explore the state in which you live. In many areas you won’t even need a tent if you book far enough in advance because more and more campgrounds are acquiring yurts.

Take day trips. When I was a child, money was very tight. But we always had enough to throw a chicken in the cooler and go up to the mountains for the day. Depending on where you live, you can explore and explore the closer parts of your state without every running out of new opportunities.