So, the holidays are over and that probably means one of two things: You are still stressed out from the holidays and having to make everyone happy or you’re back at work and are stressed out about all the work that piled up over the break. Do you hate it as much as I do? Think you should get some more time off to relax? Well, then take it. If you have vacation time available, now is the PERFECT time to plan a trip! I have several short ones planned: two nights in Seattle and one at the coast. If I could get away for longer, I certainly would, but I save my big trips for later in the year. With five more months until you get another 3-day weekend (don’t cry, you might get MLK’s birthday and/or Presidents’ Day off), you gotta break it up somehow, right? Lucky for all of us, airfare and hotels are clamoring for our business right now and offering big discounts. So, you can plan a weekend away or a real vacation of a week or more and save a lot. Let’s look at what’s out there!
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Didn’t get a good gift for your sweetie for Christmas? Oops! Well, you can always make up for it now. Valentine’s Day is coming up and you can prove you’re extra romantic by booking a trip for the two of you. With it being on a Monday this year, it’s the perfect excuse to book a long weekend or a weeklong trip somewhere inexpensive, but breathtaking. If you’re husband’s on the naughty list for his gift selections, maybe leave a suggestion he check out my blog this week, so he’ll get the hint. Or just gather up all your single friends and have a “To Heck with V-Day” vacation! Margaritas are always cheaper when you only have to buy one round.
Ring in 2011 with rates from $20.11! That’s right, there are a good number of Caribbean all-inclusives that are offering you rates of $20.11 per person per night. That’s cheaper than staying at a plain old regular hotel AND all your meals and entertainment are included! This deal is good for bookings through Jan 11. Stay in beautiful locations like Nassau, Curacao, Cancun, Dominican Republic and Aruba.
Want to give them to Wow Factor? Well, I’ve got it for you: A villa in Marrakech, Morocco for under $100/night. That’s right. There are two options for a villa (1-bedroom and 1-bedroom with mezzanine) for under $100 or a single/double room for as little as $59/night. SniqueAway describes it perfectly with this sentence: An exotic spot so fantastical, it's where genies go to grant their own wishes. Adama by Residhotel is right on the outskirts of the city, making it a quiet place to relax and escape to after a long day in the markets and sightseeing. They also offer a free shuttle into town, so it’s very convenient to get around. All rooms offer kitchen facilities, flat-screen TVs, complimentary internet air conditioning and private bathrooms. 1- and 2-bedroom villas offer two bathrooms, because they can accommodate 5 or more people, so a family or group is not a problem! TripAdvisor travelers gave the Adama no less than a 4-star rating out of 5, claiming it was superb, fantastic, spacious, grand, beautiful and other equally complimentary words. You must have a SniqueAway membership to book through their site. If you don’t have one, it’s by invitation only, which you can get here or click on the link on the top right of the page.
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So, you are looking for a weekend getaway? Here are some of my top tips for booking one:
Compare costs. Sometimes a weekend away close to where you live can be great, but almost just as much as getting on a plane and flying somewhere. Compare your costs. Southwest and other discount airlines have some rockin’ deals right now and may be able to save you enough that if you just pay a little less for a hotel, you’ll end up spending the same.
Look for package deals. Really. I can go to the coast for 2-3 nights and easily spend $150 per night for a hotel. Plus, I have to pay for gas to drive there and I’ve pretty much already seen everything there is to see there. Without food, that can be about $500 round-trip. I’ve often gone on to the booking engines and searched for package deals and found airfare, hotel and car rental all for that same price for three nights. Why not go somewhere new, or further from home, if you’re going to spend the same amount on the trip? Just because it doesn’t require a passport doesn’t make it less fun!
Bypass the 5-star prices. Just because you want to be treated, doesn’t mean you have to pay hundreds of dollars a night for a room. Hotels.com and other websites (BookIt, LastMinute, etc.) have some really low rates on fancy hotels. Just think, the less you spend now, the more you can spend on a long vacation later. That doesn’t mean you have to stay in a dump. Find a deal, check out the reviews on the booking website and/or TripAdvisor and then book your good room.
Pack even less. 2-3 day trips are awesome and can really make packing a breeze. Take an extra pair of pants or a skirt, 2 tops and you’re done! If you need some fancy shoes, throw them in and you still have room for that quick shopping trip you’ll probably do before you come home. Spend that checked bag fee on something for yourself.
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It’s a new year, so why not try going somewhere new, too? Doing new things, trying new food and experiencing new places are my top 3 reasons to travel. I know there are people out there who like to go the same places every year, but I like to break out of that and change it up. I love Disneyland, but going there every year makes it lose its luster a bit. The same happens with other places I travel to a lot. Throw in a new place every now and then (or most of the time) and make those places you love to travel to more special and more exciting when you get to go back to them.
If those 2 options under Valentine’s Day don’t strike your fancy, how does Rome sound? Pretty nice, huh? Well, stay in a new-old hotel while you’re there for less than $100/night. Yeah, you read that right. The luxurious Eurostars Roma Aeterna opened in October of 2010, making it new, but it is part of a historical building, also making it old. Just steps from Roma Terminal and 15 minutes from the Centre of Rome. If you want to have a quiet night in, make reservations for the onsite Adriano Restaurant for a taste of genuine Italian cuisine. The modern and elegant rooms feature satellite TV, free WiFi, en-suite bathrooms with Jacuzzi tubs, air conditioning and some have a walk-out veranda.
Many people have a wish to visit the Emerald Isle. I’m talking, of course, of Ireland. If you’re one of them and haven’t quite made it, now’s your chance. From $600 per person, you can fly round-trip and stay in a beautiful Dublin hotel for 4 nights. Best deals are for travel in March. Make your own itinerary! This is a great time to ask all your travel friends what they did and recommend, check out activities on TripAdvisor or just start researching to build your own unique trip! And if you go, have a shot of Jamieson for me.
The best time to go anywhere is to travel during off-peak season. You can save over 50% by doing this, as show in these two articles from CheapTickets and Orbitz which show when the best times to travel are to select locations and how much you can save by traveling then in comparison to other months of the year.
Do you have vacation pictures that you still need to have printed? Purchase through Snapfish and use promo code HAPPYNEWYEAR to get 99 (4x6) prints for just 99 cents by midnight on January 9. Don’t need prints, but want something with one of your travel photos on it? Favorite items are on sale for 40% off at Snapfish, too, if you use promo code 2011SALE40. Happy printing!
Why not check out some of these other budget travel articles I've written for the following websites. Please also take a look around once you get there and finish reading, because they are truly helpful and pretty awesome. I hope there will be more added to the list soon, too.