Travel Bargain Tips – 2

Some people have had different experiences for some of the items written about in Part 1 — so here’s an update and some additional leads. As with the first article, all the links are at the end.

Travel Bargain Tips – 1
___ The Jetbluecheeps are only offered periodically and for amazingly short periods. They are not there, even just a few days later.

___ If you work for a a non-profit (professionally or as a volunteer), you can use Academic Ambassadors to find great deals for boutique hotels around the country (it’s the official hotel discounter of Harvard, MIT and Duke Universities). You don’t need to be an employee of the universities –any non-profit affiliation will do.

___ A savvy Premium Exec and Million Mile Flyer with United Airlines, echoed my frustration, and more, that the airlines only offer vouchers for future travel when they have already lowered their rates. They keep your money and use it, while regular, infrequent travelers may never be able to use the voucher. I think this needs to be changed by law.

He relates that even for him, as a premier customer, things did not go well when dealing with United Airlines vouchers.

He says, ‘there was a $300 difference on a round-trip SFO-PGH flight. United Airlines used up $150 as their surcharge for “changing” the ticket. Hutzpah! Then, UA sent a voucher for the other $150 with 27 separate constraints on its use, including a deadline’.

This traveler now has accumulated three vouchers for: $300, $200, and $150, but also now knows that only one voucher can be used at a time, AND it has to be on United flights only, AND it has to be on a straight round-trip.

Another ploy, this traveler found is that United advertises on its site that they will give you $100 back if you find a lower fare than what you find on United’s site. However, that DOES NOT apply if you find the lower fare ON United’s own site! The $100 also comes as a voucher, with all of the aforementioned conditions and even more.

In short, if you are “flying the friendly skies” of United, and find a lower fare, don’t get your hopes up too high! This is how they are treating their best customers!

Other airlines are doing the same. For example, Continental’s rebates only apply if the fare drops within 30 days of your purchase date.

Read all the fine-print.

___ For a new way to save money on accommodations – think about the international, non-governmental, multicultural peace association, run by volunteers in over 100 countries, called Servas International.

It was founded in 1949 by Bob Luitweiler as a peace movement organization. There is a process involved to make certain travelers and hosts are sane, responsible people, but once you receive your “passport” you get access to the listings of over 30,000 international hosts, who welcome the opportunity to put you up for two nights and share one meal with you — free.

All that is requested is that you share with each other the idea of peace. It is a fascinating experience and there is a whole spectrum of hosts – from single people to large families.

Servas believes that if people spend a little time together, maybe that will help make war a little less likely and that understanding is more likely to flourish.

___ Another way to cut travel costs is to eliminate hotel or lodging expenses altogether via a home exchange. Consider, why are you leaving your residence unoccupied when you travel and then you pay for lodging? My parents did this part-way, long before there were organizations or an internet.

In 1957, while we traveled to America to see where my father was born and to meet his family for the first time, my parents rented out our home to a British family visiting with adult children. They must have been friends of friends or something, and after getting more references, my parents did it. We had other family in town to leave valuables and sentimental items with, and off we went for 6 months.

The only “bad” thing that happened was that the British lady shrunk our wool blankets by washing them too hot, when she was cleaning up for our return. But, especially in the modern world, you will need to be very careful.

However, I think the idea that you have exactly “swapped” homes, is a factor that will encourage good-care on both your parts. See the link below for if you are interested in home exchange.

___ Use one of the reputable Bed and Breakfast networks, who screen their hosts well, to save money where you travel. We have stayed in B&B’s for decades – in Britain, America and Canada.

And, whether using flexible options like the registry in towns in Britain when we did this on-the-fly, about 35 years ago, just having a few top tier hotels booked, leaving options for the nights in between to end up “wherever” on the itinerary we were – impossible to judge when you are spending time in the outdoors, on a photo safari or making art, or just want to not rush a pub lunch and meet the locals. OR, by booking the whole trip at specific B&Bs, each night OR just staying at one home the whole time, you can have a marvelous base, and usually for less money than regular hotels. The internet and Skype makes all this a lot easier now!

And, usually the B&B’s don’t add 18-20% tax on top of the rental cost, as hotels do on top of their advertised room rates. There may be local laws, but usually you will be ahead of the game, in some degree. So when comparing per-night costs it’s worth taking extra taxes and tariffs into account. That can really end up saving a bundle!

For those who don’t want to take the time or have confidence to research and book on their own in Paris or Barcelona (and info on several more cities in Europe), then try a self-catering accommodations site.

___ Travel Companion is a useful app if you have an iPhone. It can help you to keep track of the hundreds of loyalty programs out there that hotels and airlines offer. Especially if you forget to carry the membership cards, now your phone can keep the information so you are not just throwing potential reward points opportunities away.

Enjoy your savings!

Academic Ambassadors


Home Exchange

Self-catering rentals – Barcelona, Paris

Travel Companion iPhone app

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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