I want to talk about inflation. Everything is going up in price, which has some people changing their travel plans and others making the tough choice to cancel. Here's some advice to help keep your plans to travel and reduce the cost simultaneously.
Let's bargain. Ok, so you have the hotel, car, and tours priced out. You need to take a second look, and here we go. This is an easy way to cut expenses by at least 10% and maybe more. First, check out those rates for your hotel online. If booked through an online travel agency, look again. All the major search engines for online hotel bookings are updating their prices daily, and the price you paid 4 weeks ago may have dropped. Most OTA's will allow you to book at the lower price, cha-ching!
If the price hasn't changed, call the hotel directly, they'll appreciate it. The purpose of your call is to inform them you're looking at the price online and want to know if the hotel can offer a better rate. Why would you do this? The OTA receives a commission for your booking, and the hotel would rather have you book directly. The hotel can make more money, and you can pay less. Trust me, this works.
If you get no as an answer, ask to speak with a manager. No usually means that the person on the other line doesn't have the skill, authority, or comprehension to do what is being asked. Keep moving up the ladder. It'll be worth the time. If you still get a no, ask for more. Maybe breakfast can be added to the reservation at no additional cost. It might not be brunch at the Ritz, but it'll save you a bundle. The less you eat out, the more you save. Food cost is a huge travel expense, and there's no shame in being thrifty.
Now, let's take a look at the rental car. Frankly, consider ditching it. Renting a car right now is highway robbery. You don't really need the car, and here's why. Think about it, why are you getting the car? Most likely for a sense of freedom and to get you to the airport and back. Most airports have shuttles that can offer a clean, comfortable and inexpensive transfer. Again, search online for the transfer company and book direct, not through a third party.
Secondly, Uber and Lyft are just about everywhere and still reasonable. Think about using them strategically. Double up on the purpose of your shared ride. Can I get lunch and see some of the sights on my itinerary at the same time? What is within walking distance? Contact the local tourism association and forget about "The Top Ten Things To Do In.....". Whenever you see that phrase, it's either a blog of someone who wants you to click or an online travel agency wanting to sell you a tour. Forget it.
My local tourism association is Black Hills and Badlands. It's a wealth of information, and you can talk to a human being. They work much harder and know more than a blogger or tour site. These people are paid to get you to visit the area and will help you with whatever you need.
Ok, so last but not least. I am a tour operator, and I will tell you the truth. Online travel associations are a double-edged sword for companies like mine. We list our tours on their website because they are excellent at helping us get in front of your eyes. Our ratings do help with decision-making, but so do our commissions.
Tour operators will pay anywhere from 20% and up to get the sale. Sometimes, online travel agencies collect 30% because the tour operator will increase the commission to get ahead of the competition! That's a huge chunk, and it's a race to the bottom right now. However, we want you to make a reservation and are willing to pay. Look closer at the information online when selecting, and you'll likely find the tour provider's name within a few clicks. It won't be on the first page, but look for something like "Additional Information" and click there.
Once you see the company that has what you want, search for them online and call directly. Simply explain that you want a tour, found them online and would like to know if they offer a discount for making a direct booking. Without question, I offer an immediate 10% discount, possibly more if you book more than one tour.
You're saving money, and I'm making more. It's a win-win situation that no company is going to pass up. Now, think about it. Book a tour that picks you up from your accommodation, takes you everywhere you want, and includes a meal. You've just scheduled an 8-hour tour with no planning on your part involved and no requirement for a car.
Prices are sky-high for rentals, and this strategy can save you anywhere from $800-$1500 for the week. In some places, even more. So try this strategy, and you'll save thousands while helping local businesses like mine. It's easier than you think, and you'll be able to enjoy the vacation you've been planning for a long time.
Former Director of Sales, Product Development and Principle Buyer. Current owner of My XO Adventures and thrill seeker.