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Cómo Viajar con un Presupuesto Limitado

Ways to Travel on a Budget

Even as gas prices rise, you can find affordable opportunities to take a vacation.

by Neil Bartlett

If you're like most Americans, you want to cut back on expenses-and vacations are a big expense. In the summer of 2011 Americans spent about $16 billion more then they did back in 2010, according to Mondial Assistance USA. A poll conducted in 2009 by Gallop and USA Today among US residents revealed that 3 out of 5 people who normally take vacations will spend less in the future or will not vacation at all.

These expenses can be controlled, however. While finding good deals is a challenge, with a little research and flexibility there are good travel bargains to be had-if you have the money to spend.

Consumers have the advantage

Thanks to cost reductions due to the economy, company travel has decreased. This means that the tourism industry is looking to motivate consumers to fly and stay with them. Hotels are the most vulnerable, since they have rooms to fill and even new construction whose income they have counted on for years.

Hotel and motel managers work to attract more travelers to occupy their rooms. "We are all trying to do something to attract more business"  says Tim Leffel, Nashville, Tenn., travel expert and author of "The World's Cheapest Destinations."  "It doesn't matter where you're going,  you'll problably find a promotion."

Flexibility is key

In today's travel environment, if you're flexible, you'll do better. "There's no reason why you need to plan more than two or three weeks out to get a decent deal," says Leffel. "Sometimes waiting until the last minute will give you the best deal of all. It depends on supply and demand." For example, if going to a popular vacation destination is fun for you, plan well in advance. But generally, you can coast a bit. "Most places aren't packed at any time of the year," Leffel says.

Searching for bargains

With the Internet making travel information available at your fingertips, you're in control. "It's pretty easy to set things up to your preferences," says Leffel. "There's no need to spend hours surfing and trying to find things. Let notices come to you." Travel search sites are becoming more sophisticated and more powerful. In February 2009, for example, TripAdvisor.com launched a search engine that pulls flight and fare data from multiple airlines and online travel agencies. Sites such as Airfarewatchdog.com, Travelocity.com, lastminute.com, and hotwire.com post deals for last minute bookings. And if one main airline serves your airport, subscribe to its e-mail newsletter for specials.

With the increased use of the internet in searching for vacations comes the necessity of having a credit card, debit card or pre-paid card. Normally, you can search online for free, but when you are ready to purchase a plane ticket or reserve a hotel room, card information is required. Visit your credit union to learn more about what options they have.

According to the Travel Industry of America, more than 75% of all travelers now use the Internet for their travel planning. Before, you may have gone to a travel agent or local supermarket. Talk to your credit union to find out if they have the services of a travel agent.

Closer to home

With the current economy, travelers are taking more "celebration vacations" - a long weekend or a few days close to home to celebrate their anniversary or other family event," says Marti Mayne from BedandBreakfast.com in Austin, Texas.

If you're planning to vacation closer to home, Tim Leffel , a travel expert and author of "The World's Cheapest Destinations", advises that you head to your local library for a state travel guide. You'll also find specific guides if you like to hike or bike, for example. State tourism Web sites can provide lots of vacation tips, too.

And closest to home of all is your credit union. It offers tools and services-credit and debit cards, savings plans and loans-that can make your vacation a hit no matter your destination.

Published 03-12-2012


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