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Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Susan Black
With the early stages of the summer vacation period for 2011 already upon us, those looking to finalize their own plans are fighting for bargain breaks like never before. With huge swathes of the country fully intent on making up for last year’s economic devastation, affordable vacation options have become the Holy Grail sought by many, though secured by far fewer than usual.
The unfortunate truth of the matter is that there really is little mystery as to why such should be the case, as a variety of global factors have seen the costs of providing and taking vacations skyrocket over the last 12 months. Airline fares in particular have seen something of an outrageous rally, by way of up to half a dozen separate price hikes in the last six months alone. Soaring oil-prices, airport taxes and so on all carry their own degree of blame, but such really does little help the poor consumer to find anything of interest within their means. However, as endangered a species as they may be, affordable flights and vacations are still out there waiting to be found, though the hunt required to track them down requires considerably more cunning and perhaps a little further legwork then you might have become used to.
Buy Now or Pay Later
One of the very best friends of the bargain holiday-seeker used to be the last-minute sales and late deals that practically guaranteed huge reductions. However, as you may or may not have notice, it seems to have become the practice of airlines to work exactly the opposite way round – whereby the further in advance the fare is booked, the cheaper it is. Indeed, what appears to be a bargain flight one day can become an entirely extortionate example within a matter of days, resulting in procrastination proving a rather expensive trait.Of course, many providers will still offer late deals and other such standby deals, but the key point of importance to remember is that they are no longer the guarantee they used to be. Therefore, if you come across what appears to be a good deal, take your cash and make the investment before you have time to regret it when the prices begin to soar…that discount sofa purchase can wait until after you return!
Look Beyond the Local
A comprehensive study was recently carried out across the U.S and confirmed what many of us have known for quite some time now…which is that the airport closest to where you live is almost certainly one of the most expensive you’ll come across. Airports in busy cities and densely populated areas become hugely congested and stretched to breaking point, requiring huge investments to run and expand, which is ultimately paid for by you. Smaller, out of town airports on the other hand can offer a far more simple service with the potential to save as much as 50% on overall fare costs. This may seem tough to believe, but next time you are hunting for bargain seats, try out a few more airports within maybe a 200 km radius and you might just be surprised.Of course, a 200 km drive to and from the airport is not an idea solution, but if doing so nets you an $800 saving on your family’s ticket prices…I’s think it safe to say it was worth it.
Surrender to Spam
As a person that immediately banishes all junk mail both online and in real life to the depths of the garbage, I run the risk of hypocrisy here…but quite simply the only way of ensuring the pick of the bargains through sales and promotions is to get there before everybody else does. As such, signing up to as many applicable mailing lists as possible from airlines and agents is the very best and possibly the only way of receiving advance notification of sales and promotions. True, 99% of the garbage you receive will be exactly that, but the occasional 24 hour sale pops up from time to time with the potential to save you a small fortune that you would have otherwise found out about three or four days too late.
Again, sifting through the detritus is far from the most enjoyable summer reading you’re likely to encounter, but doing so costs nothing and may just prove to be a hugely valuable investment of your time.
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