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Tips for recession summer travel

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  May 15, 2009 11:11 AM

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It's clear that most folks who are planning summer travel are looking at more modest options.
Most, I'm guessing are planning trips of a few days to a week by car. Interestingly enough Bloomberg News is just reporting that The Air Transport Association is forecasting that US summer airline travel will fall 7 percent from last year.
Anyway, I just did a spot this morning on NECN offering tips on how to save on trips this summer. You can watch but if you want the shorter summary here it is:

FIRST, do some research on prospective destinations for the availability of cheap or free things to do. Check out AAA guides and family-travel websites to get a feel for the lay of the land: Are there attractions, parks, beaches, places to hike and bike at or near where you plan to be? Also take a look at websites of newspapers in the area along with those of state travel and tourism agencies for calendar listings of events that may be happening while you're in the area.

SECOND, if you’re planning to get away for just a couple of days and you’re looking to cut lodging costs, consider using one of the “opaque’’ travel sites, like Priceline or Hotwire, which let you bid on rooms. The downside is that these sites are “opaque,’’ not transparent. You don’t bid on a room at a specific hotel. Instead you make an offer on a room at a class of hotel -- 2-, 3-, or 4 stars -- in a specific city and you don’t know exactly where you’ll be staying until your bid is accepted. But by using these sites you can score savings of up to 40%-50%, particularly at higher-end properties this year.

THIRD, if you're looking for a more extended vacation, a like a week or more, consider renting a house. This often gets you a lot more space at the same or lower per-night cost of a hotel room and will save you all kinds of money in things like food. There are a number of websites like VRBO, which stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner, and craigslist with vacation home listings.

AND FINALLY, AND THIS IS A GREAT TIP: If you can be flexible about where you go and are willing to wait till the last minute, say, the week before your vacation you can get great deals on unrented vacation houses -- and I expect there to be a fair number of these available this year. In years past I have saved as much as 50% on rentals this way. When you spot last-minute openings, they’ll probably be discounted already but don’t be afraid to make an offer. By taking the last-minute route you may not be able to get a place in that town on the Cape that you usually go to, but it can also be an opportunity to explore another place or perhaps even another state.

Hope this helps. If you have other ideas, please share.

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8 comments so far...
  1. If you are coming to Chicago this summer and are looking to stretch your budget, then check out the excellent travel resource Free Things to Do in Chicago at which is a handy guide to all the free things to do while visiting Chicago from free museum days, to free concerts, to free things to do with your children.

    Posted by steve4322 May 16, 09 01:21 AM
  1. Travelers can find deals on vacation rental homes in Arizona and Florida on this ad-free blog

    Posted by Ghermine May 16, 09 08:55 PM
  1. Totally agree. Trekaroo ( ) is a family-focused reviews website filled with thousands of the most popular kid-friendly activities and hotels across the US. You can use their filters to find free or nearly activities in lots of the top summer destinations this summer.

    Another tip is to cut down on food costs by packing lunches/drinks and eating in when you can while on vacation. Take advantage of the hotels with free continental breakfasts and kids eat free perks.

    Posted by thelees3 May 17, 09 01:20 AM
  1. If people fly out of Logan going to is a great way to save money.

    Posted by Bill bell May 17, 09 04:36 AM
  1. And if you are coming to the Gulf Coast of Florida Check out Florida Gulf Vacation
    for over 200 vacation homes, villas and condos directly on the beaches and near beach.

    Posted by James Swartwout May 17, 09 11:33 AM
  1. Vacation rentals can provide you with significantly greater value than anything you might find at a hotel.
    The website, will provide you with vacation rentals that have free golf, deep sea fishing, water parks, horseback riding, amusements, unlimited DVD rentals and much more - every day of your stay!
    There are over 10,000 properties to choose from and they include many of the finest property management companies in the U.S.
    Have a great summer vacation and Vacation Happily!

    Posted by GetMoreVacations May 18, 09 09:58 AM
  1. Summer is a great time to travel and especially now with all of the deals people are offering. I've noticed a lot of our destinations offering wonderful deals on accommodations, car rentals, air fare and even the attractions are cutting costs to attract visitors. We have to remember everyone is competing with thier neighbors right now so it can't hurt to just ask. can help you find your summer destination.

    Posted by See Ya There! June 16, 09 03:55 PM
  1. Great news but do not forget to check out for hotel deals with other re-sellers do not just rely on Priceline or Hotwire - comparing the hotel prices with some of the major re-sellers should be normal practice, these have pre-purchased rooms inventory which can come at a better price: expedia hotel reservations, deskbell hotel reservations and others. In the end try to contact the hotel itself to see if they have any offer in place, or upgrade, which can beat the online reservation websites.

    Posted by Malcom July 29, 09 02:22 PM
About globe-trotting Travel news, tips, deals and dispatches.
  • Anne Fitzgerald, Globe Travel Editor
  • Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor
  • Eric Wilbur, staff
  • Kari Bodnarchuk writes about outdoor adventures, offbeat places, and New England.
  • Patricia Borns, a frequent contributor to Globe Travel, writes and photographs travel, maritime, and historical narratives as well as blogs and books.
  • Patricia Harris, a regular contributor to Globe Travel, is author or co-author of more than 20 books on travel, food, and popular culture.
  • Paul E. Kandarian, a frequent contributor to Globe Travel, writes and photographs New England and Caribbean stories.
  • Chris Klein is a regular contributor to Globe Travel. His latest book is "The Die-Hard Sports Fan's Guide to Boston."
  • David Lyon, a regular contributor to Globe Travel, is author or co-author of more than 20 books on travel, food, and popular culture.
  • Hilary Nangle, author of Moon Maine, Moon Coastal Maine, and Moon Acadia National Park, writes about soft adventure, skiing, cultural travel, and food.
  • Joe Ray, a frequent contributor to Globe Travel, writes and photographs food and travel stories from Europe.
  • Necee Regis is a regular contributor to Globe Travel.