I’m pretty late to summer vacation planning this year, but I’m not letting it stop me from getting a solid deal. Here are three often-overlooked things I made sure to check before finalizing any plans:
- Park-Stay-Fly hotel packages
Airport parking can add up, even if you’re using an off-site long-term lot. So, especially if your flight leaves in the morning, consider booking an airport-area hotel room with a parking package. For a slight premium — as little as $10 to $20 sometimes — over the regular room rate, hotels will throw in 7 to 14 days of parking. It’s almost like buying your parking and getting a hotel room thrown in for free. (Almost.) Most parking packages are found only on hotels’ own websites. There’s a site that focuses on this — parksleepfly.com — but it’s not completely authoritative. Still, a good starting point.
- Vacation Rentals
In some well-touristed areas, hotels book up quickly. But vacation rentals — houses, apartments, condos — are often still available. You won’t get maid service, and the decor will not be the standardized fare you’ll find in a hotel, but you might find a gem. I’ve been looking at lodging in a small city at the gateway to a national park. The hotels are full. The motels are dumps. The vacation rentals, on the other hand, are promising. Check out sites like HomeAway, VRBO, ABetterStay, Belvilla, or Vacation Home Rentals. Check them all, frankly, as inventory varies tremendously.
Traveling internationally? Don’t settle for buying a coach seat. I’ve beaten this drum before, but summertime is when international business class airfares drop significantly, as business travel scales back. It’s not the same price as coach, but it’s a big discount to the usual charge. Look for so-called “Z-fares” by searching for business class airfares on the airline or travel agency website of your choice. It used to be that you could also look for deals with the all-business class airlines, but only OpenSkies remains. Shop around before you settle for coach.