Traveling – When Cheap Is A Good Word

The word “cheap” can have many meanings – very often, the word is just a synonym for “crap quality”. Nobody, really, wants a cheap car.  Telling someone else that their car is “good value” is not a good compliment!

But when it comes to cheap holidays, there is no shame – everyone wants the cheapest deal.

In a time of soaring airline ticket prices and those annoying fees plus the ever-increasing price of fuel, finding low-priced travel options can often mean the difference between having a holiday – or not having one.

A recent Consumer Reports survey found that 40% of respondents are flying less as a result of increased fees.

Fortunately, there are ways to get around this, ways to avoid the peak prices and ways to actually make the travel work in your favor.

Most people have their holidays at the same time, and therefore travel at the same time.

This is the ultimate time for airlines to raise their prices, since they know they can fill the seats up easily. Who wants to break the Christmas tradition of always celebrating with the family? And who doesn’t want to get away for summer holidays?

If you’re just looking for a cheap holiday, be smart and don’t follow the stream.

Does this mean that you will be sunbathing in the cold winter rain in Spain? No, it’s not even that drastic.

We started The Europe Train Challenge in May, and that whole first month was fantastic.Sunny weather every day with degrees between 22 – 30 degrees, all over Europe.

And best of all, the streets in Paris, Venice and Barcelona weren’t overcrowded with tourists, and the locals had not yet fled the city to get away from the tourist season.

To travel in “off season” doesn’t mean to be in the Ski fields during summer and beach during winter – all it takes is a month or even a few weeks earlier and later than most people go.

For example, choose your weekend break with care. To travel from Saturday to Tuesday will be much cheaper than Thursday to Monday.

It is proven that Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday planned travel will get you the cheapest airfares.

Since the majority of other travelers will be forced to make their holiday return trips on Sundays or Mondays, open and cheaper seats can be found on less busy travel days.

Another way to get that cheap deal is to sign up for airline frequent flyer programs and get promo codes and updates delivered to your inbox.  You’ll gain access to last-minute flight deals with savings that can average 50%.

Thinking about a road trip this year and worried about the high price of gasoline?

Hoteliers are willing to help minimize travel costs by offering free gas cards.  Several hotels in the Marriott chain are now offering a $25 gift card for each night’s stay through Labor Day (September 5) 2011.

Although hotel room rates have not jumped as much as airfares have so far this year, consumers will still need to reach deeper to fund this years holidays.

Luckily, the concept “Hostel” is changing, and the hostel companies are raising the bar of standards. These days you will find hostels which differ little in quality from cheap hotels – plus give you the opportunity to cook your own food.

Do you travel during off season to get cheap deals? Share your tips!

(photo credits: ell brown – ELEOTH – meddygarnet)

12 Responses to Traveling – When Cheap Is A Good Word

  1. Keren Cheesewright May 31, 2011 at 6:30 am #

    We will be traveling to Switzerland and Italy late September to early October this year for this exact reason. We haven’t traveled a lot as yet but it is fair to say that we are ‘shoulder season’ travelers as much as possible.

    • Sofia - As We Travel May 31, 2011 at 7:47 am #

      September and October will be a perfect time to visit Switzerland. 

      It’s a great country for outdoorsy things like hiking, and in autumn it won’t be too hot to be outside, plus the colors in nature are just unbelievably beautiful there at that time!

  2. Debbie Beardsley May 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm #

    Great tips on getting the best rats for air.  I think you’re right that everyone wants the “cheapest” rate not matter what their definition is.  Yes, I travel on a budget but that is probably very different than someones else’s “Budget” vacation! 

    • Sofia - As We Travel June 3, 2011 at 10:20 am #

      Budget can really mean different things for different people.

      The worst thing is knowing that you paid more than the person next to you for the same thing, and the best feeling is when it’s the opposite 😛

  3. Ben May 31, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    Great frugal travel tips!

  4. Andrew - The Unframed World June 1, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Nice insight. Thanks! Paying bills with credit cards linked to frequent flyer programs is another good way to quickly get free flights.
    About traveling during the “off season,” would you recommend off-season travelers to see Europe during May or is there a better off-season you think?

    • Sofia - As We Travel June 1, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      It depends on where in Europe you’re going. Some places, like Switzerland, is absolutely stunning in autumn.

      But overall, I personally prefer spring time.

      May is a great month to travel in Europe. 
      Every time we’ve traveled around Europe in May it’s been perfect, great weather and not at all too crowded.

      • Andrew - The Unframed World June 1, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

        Great thanks! I’ve actually never been to Europe since it’s easier to travel around Asia from Japan where I live now. I hoping to do a long tour in the next two years by train similar to your experiences now (but maybe with a slower pace).

        • Sofia - As We Travel June 3, 2011 at 10:15 am #

          Sounds like a great plan, so far we’ve really enjoyed traveling through Europe by train. 
          It has been more difficult in the Balkan area (and France!), but in most parts of Europe it’s pretty easy.

          A slower pace is definitely recommended, Europe is a place I could explore forever 😉

  5. Laura June 1, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    Great tips! Traveling during the off season is a great strategy, especially in locations that are pleasant year round. And of course, the more flexible you are the easier it will be to take advantage of those great last minute travel deals!

    • Sofia - As We Travel June 3, 2011 at 10:16 am #

      I agree, flexibility is the key! Glad you like the tips.