The Travel Professor
Join me on a journey across the broad spectrum of interesting travel topics. We’ll discuss destinations domestic and abroad, some familiar and some off the beaten path. We take a look at suppliers like cruise lines, air carriers and tour operators and find their bargains and special offerings. Got questions? Email

Monday, June 6, 2011

on cutting your lodging bills, food and entertainment bills

With rising fuel prices making travel tough by car and by plane, planning a summer vacation seems impossible. The "staycation" is getting old, so here are some tips on how to trim costs. With a little more research, you can still get away with the family this summer. I’ll be posting my vacation planning thoughts over the next week. Feel free to share your tips & secrets!

Here are some suggestions on cutting your lodging bills, food and entertainment bills.
Take advantage of free. Many hotels offer kids stay and eat free programs, which can add up to big savings when it comes to feeding a brood of four. And don't forget to check out awards on credit cards, frequent flyers, and hotel VIP guests programs. Many of us forget that steep discounts are available on hotels and flights and a quick login to review account balances and special offers may save hundreds.

Another summer travel trip is to ask for discount! Hotels are not always at full capacity so it doesn't hurt to contact hotels directly to ask for discounted rates or even to mention lower rates at a nearby hotel. You'd be surprised by the hotel's ability to drop the price. The works really well on the date of your arrival but you’re also waiting until the last minute.

Check multiple websites. To save money, you need to do a little digging. Don't just review one hotel pricing site and trust it to be the lowest deal. If you see a price advertised on one site like, visit the actual hotel website to see if they offer steals, and vice versa. I once saw one website list a hotel's lowest fees at $200 night but when I went to directly to the hotel's site I discovered a special mid-week deal at $100.00 per night.

Stock the mini bar with your own supplies. Many hotels are providing refrigerators or mini bars; if you have an empty fridge, stock it with drinks and snacks purchased at a local market. If you have a fully stocked mini bar ask the hotel to empty it (this reducing the risk of a toddler's candy bar theft) and fill it with your own low-priced snacks.

Bring your own snacks. Don't blow your budget on food while sightseeing or enjoying an amusement park, bring you own snacks. Some amusement parks allow backpacks filled with snacks and drinks, including Disney Theme Parks, which also provides small lockers for a small fee so you can store your pack until you're hungry. Pack your own lunch and save big!

Check for dining discounts at hotels. Some restaurants near hotels offer special discounts to guests. These may be advertised in the in-room hotel guides or at the front desk. Once my key card worked for a 20% discount off food (adult beverages were not included) at a hotel near Cincy's King Island.

Shop Convention & Visitors Bureaus (CVBs) websites in the areas you'll be visiting. Many of the CVBs are posting local deals and discounts here. Many larger cities are offering combination discount books that for one price give you admission into its biggest attractions. Not only will you save on admission, you'll skip the ticket lines.

And don't hesitate to contact your local travel professional as they have access to many unpublished specials and deals.