Thursday, March 10, 2011

Off-topic: Travel Tip

I like to consider myself a fairly savvy shopper when it comes to booking travel. I set fare reminders at all of the best aggregators (kayak and farecast are particularly good) and when I see a good airfare I pounce on it.

Hotels can be a bit trickier especially in destinations that are popular with global tourists (Miami, Hawaii, Cancun, etc) because their currencies have bee so strong compared to the dollar that they are able to pay daily rates that seem criminal to a tightwad like me. Sites like VRBO offer some relief and traveling outside of the normal dates (don't leave on the Saturday of Spring Break) can improve your odds, but finding an affordable, high end hotel is very challenging right now.

However, there was one issue that always drove me crazy (pun intended) and that was car rental. A week ago I looked at car rental rates in Florida and I could have had any car I wanted for $15/day. Last night that had jumped to an average of $100/day.

I did all of the normal computer tricks (clear history, clear cookies, etc) but the rates were still in the high $90's per day. Just a side note on the importance of clearing your cookies and history when it comes to travel. Hotels have really figured out how to track your visits and move their availability and pricing to entice you to purchase. One hotel I was watching went from having every room available to being practically sold out over the course of 3 visits. After I cleared my cookies, the hotel magically became empty again. For the uninitiated you can clear cookies by clicking tools in Internet Explorer, click Internet options, click general and click "delete" under browsing history (just make sure your cookie box is checked).

Anyway, back to car rentals - I read a tip suggesting that one should look at rentals off the airport. Apparently rental car companies know that the average person doesn't think to look for a rental anywhere but the location where their plane lands and they charge accordingly. I changed my search protocol for a trip to Florida from pick-up "at the airport" to "city" and guess what happened? A full-size sedan for $40/day was available from Hertz at a location 5 miles from the airport. I'll gladly hop in a cab for $15 ride to save $500 on my car rental.

Hopefully, you're able to use some of these tips to save some cash on your next trip south.



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