Thursday, May 12, 2011

Summer Vacation Savings

Neil Hastings, director of sales and marketing for Mountain Lodge at Telluride in Telluride, Colo., offers the following tips on Summer Vacation Savings for your family:

1. Take a single-destination trip. Instead of a driving trip incorporating several stops, head for one destination. Cities where attractions are accessible by foot or public transportation can help cut costs. While large metropolitan areas may come to mind, that doesn’t rule out smaller, more out-of-the-way places. (Even in Telluride, visitors have no need for a car once they arrive, as there’s a free shuttle bus system and an energy-efficient free gondola).

2. Consider going all-inclusive. Staying at one resort that offers a multitude of services, amenities, and activities can mean significant savings on everything from gas to money. For those who like to try their hand at many activities – and then get tired or bored, and want to move on to the next – an all-inclusive destination can offer all kinds of choices in one location (no more traveling/driving to get to the next thing), at no additional cost. And all-inclusive isn’t restricted to large hotels in a Mexican resort city. Today, many choices exist – think about cruises, adult sports or recreation “camps” and dude ranches.

3. Think “off-season” or “shoulder season.” Think about places that are not in peak season this time of year. For instance, at many mountain locales, early summer and fall are gorgeous, less crowded, and offer much lower rates.

4. Bypass the rental car. If you won’t absolutely need a car when you arrive at your destination, use public transportation to get there when possible. Airport shuttles, buses, and trains offer good alternatives. If you’re in an area where you’d be using taxis frequently, however, compare costs to determine if a rental car would be more economical. Better yet? Try vacationing in places where you can walk to everything. Even in the wide reaches of the American West, walkable towns abound.

5. Get out of your car. Even if you are taking a vacation by car, think about constructing a trip that isn’t all driving. Go hiking, bicycling, or horseback riding. You’ll save money and likely lose a few inches, too.

6. Think about incorporating agritourism into your vacation. Visit farmers’ markets or stores with local produce, and make your own lunches or dinners. Buying straight from the source saves in the big picture, too: You eliminate food’s travel and transport, and lessen your carbon footprint.

7. Ask about discounts. No matter where or when you travel, be sure to ask about any discounts. More lodging properties, restaurants, and attractions than ever are offering discounts this year thanks to a still-sluggish economy, but you may need to ask to find out about them.

8. Go coupon crazy. If you have chosen attractions to visit, go online and search the Web for your activity and the word "coupon" before you go. Many places offer two-for-one, free lunch, kids-free or percentage-off coupons online. Print them out and bring them along to save.

9. Think outside the standard hotel room. Today, most people know that bed and breakfast inns, and rentals of condos, townhomes and houses can offer good lodging alternatives. Also check what hotels and resorts are offering. Many offer traditional rooms as well as cost-effective suites, condos and cabins or houses with full kitchens and other amenities. The savings – especially if you’re able to prepare some meals there – can be substantial while you still reap the comforts and service of a hotel.
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