Travelling Cheap

by Mr. Cheap

After my second year of university I did the cliche “tour of Europe”. I managed to spend 4 months on the continent for $5K, including airfare (and saw 23 countries or so in a whirlwind tour). The cost of travel always seems to be dropping, and it seems to be one of those things that, if you don’t keep up with it, it’s really easy to overpay on.

A little over a year ago I went down to Cuba with my then girlfriend. We went in November (not high season) and we got a return flight from Toronto, a shuttle to the resort, all inclusive meals and booze for $600 each for a week. I still have no idea how they can provide this for that price. My only theory is that they have spare capacity during low season, and its best for them to “get what they can” on it.

If you’re thinking about a get-away and are willing to go at non-high-time, I’d suggest having a look at Escapes.ca, www.redtag.ca/vacations.php, http://www.flightcentre.ca/, and old faithfuls expedia and travelocity. Note: We don’t have any relationship with any of these sites, I just list them as they’re where I’d look if I was thinking about taking a trip.

One thing to beware of, they separate out the taxes and the price, so expect the quoted price to jump 50% or so (who do they think they’re fooling?). Flight Center had a trip offered at $94.05. When you clicked on it, it turned in to $94.05 + $298.00 taxes & fees = $392.05. Who do they think they’re fooling? Three times the price in “taxes and fees”? If a budget travel site DIDN’T do this (and just listed the actual prices of the trips), they’d get all my business. When I see a few “deals” jump like this, I often just leave the site in disgust.

I’m not sure the best “lead time” to book before your trip. One school of thought is you get the best deal booking well in advance, the other is that you get the best deal last minute (when they’re afraid the room and seat on the airplane will go empty).

What has everyone’s experience been (good or bad) with budget travel? Any suggestions on other places to find good deals?

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