Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cheap or Budget-Conscious?

Being a road warrior, I'm spoiled by my organization's expense account. After all, I'm in the travel and tourism business so I can travel.

But when traveling on my own dime, I'm a bit more cost-conscious when booking flights and accommodations. A few months back, I discovered travel auctions on eBay. I bid on multiple accommodation packages and was always out bid at the last minute. But finally, I won an auction and ended up purchasing a two-night B&B stay that would have cost at least $300 for just under $100. Not only did I great bargain at the perfect place, but 100% of the auction fees were donated to the American Red Cross.

I'm now bidding on travel packages at Destination Marketing Association International's auction benefiting various hurricane relief organizations.

Few other cost-cutting tactics I've used:
  • Utilized airline miles for trips. When booking a trip to NYC last fall, 50,000 miles were required for coach but 45,000 were required for first class - check your options!
  • Redeemed American Express points for event tickets bookable via Ticketmaster.
  • Stayed at a YMCA Hotel in NYC. It was clean, convenient and safe.
  • When booking international flights, used the domestic airline's code-share partner and saved at least $1,000 on one flight alone.
  • AAA Membership - gotta love it! Discounts vary from hotel, meals and attractions to shopping. (And if you're a AAA Plus member, you get free passport photos).
  • Coupons - yup, I'm a coupon clipper! I usually visit the destination's tourism website or tourism visitor center to check for coupon or "value" books.
  • Grocery Shopping Cards - most supermarkets these days offer discount cards which offer minimal to substantial savings to their members. These programs are free and take about 30 seconds to complete the registration form at the customer service desk.

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