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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fall Getaway Tips 8.18.12

So, it appears as if Fall may be right around the corner, at least for the travel industry. Airfare is on its way down to more reasonable rates come Monday and that means there will be deals galore for September/October/early November travel. If you want some of the best discounts, then make sure to follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Today, we’re going to talk about what you can do to make your fall travel less stressful and more affordable.

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Pack less, even when your clothes are bigger. Yes, this is totally possible. I will always tell you to plan to do laundry whenever you travel, but it’s even more necessary when you are taking things bigger than tank tops and shorts, because more items mean less valuable space for things that aren’t clothes. Look for lightweight and warm layers, like a fleece pullover or waffle-knit hoodie. I take one or two of these that will match with all my travel clothing and am set to layer them over my t-shirts if they weather becomes chilly.

Women's Savvy Zippy from ExOfficio.com
You will also want to look for a good packable jacket. I have several and prefer to bring one with a hood when traveling, as weather can be uncertain and nothing sucks worse than getting rained on when it’s already cold. You could also bring a hat, but I don’t like to bring more things than I have to. This is also why I choose a hood over an umbrella, aside from the obvious reason that umbrellas are cumbersome and only really good for one thing. Everyone in your travel party is likely to bring a jacket, so everyone is covered. (Pun intended.)

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Late September and Early October are the cheapest times to fly during the year. Kids are back in school and it’s not Labor Day or Halloween, so there are no notable parties or holidays. This makes it the ideal time to travel, if you can, and can save you huge dollars. Airfare can be as much as 50% less than the rest of the year and hotels slash prices in order to get their rooms filled. Can’t beat that with a stick!

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Pay for your rental car up front. This is actually a trick that works throughout the year, but when trying to cut costs somewhere while planning the basics, this is a brilliant way to do it. I’ll use myself as an example. I’m traveling next month and was looking for a car for 11 days. If I booked through the regular sites for car rentals that let me pay when I picked up my car, then my rate was going to be somewhere in the range of $432. That includes taxes, but come on! That’s over $40 per day.

I’ve been holding out for something cheaper and caught a great email in my inbox saying I could find rates as low as $9.95 per day. While I never find that rate when I see that email (like once every two weeks), I did click through and find one for $16.95 and was able to book my rental car with Hertz through Hotwire for a total with taxes of $247. That’s almost $200 less! I paid up front and it is non-refundable, but I’m fairly sure that is the best deal I’m going to find and also will be making that trip. If my flight gets delayed or cancelled, it says I’m covered, so I will revel in my rental car hunting skillz. It pays to do your homework and compare multiple times before booking. A week ago that rate was up to $303.

Head to the beach when the weather cools down. Fall and winter are not the times that people flock to places like Myrtle Beach or Santa Monica, so it’s the perfect time to go and beat the crowds and the soaring temps if you can go right before the weather turns. Next month is going to give you great weather and cheap hotel and condo rates. If you have a big travel party now is the time to book for a budget vacation for everyone.

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Plan a trip to Disney and other theme parks. Once school is back in session, the crowds drop dramatically around the big theme parks, so you can find huge deals on vacation packages to Anaheim and Orlando. You’ll face way shorter lines and be able to do more, even when the parks are open shorter hours. A lot of them have special events this time of year, too. Eric and I will be taking part in our 3rd Disney Halloween party. If you have little ones, this is like magic times two: Their favorite characters who are dressed up in (different) costumes, they get to stay up late, see special shows and fireworks and they get to dress up and go trick-or-treating in the parks. What?! Uh, yes! Even big kids like us have a blast on the trick-or-treat trail.

If you are into bigger thrills than Tigger dressed as a pirate and meeting Maleficent for the first time ever, then you might be more inclined to do Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. It’s truly terrifying, for those that like pee-in-your-pants-scary fun. These parties cost their own admission fee, so you can skip the park during the day to avoid paying double and then ride what’s open and see all the cool stuff that’s not available to the regular public before the sun starts to go down.

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These are just some of the ways to save and create a unique vacation experience outside of Summer. I’ll be using many of these tips myself and you’ll be bombarded with I-told-you-so posts in the coming months, along with a review of GoCards from SmartDestinations.com. They will save you a ton and should be super-easy to use. I guess we’ll all find out!

Do you have some useful Fall Travel Tips that have saved you big? Let us know what they are!

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