Ok … I understand – where has the gold gone as we enter our “Golden Years.” For many of us our 401K is unrecognizable as we have seen its value plummet within the past few years. Yes, it does seem the sky is falling – and we do not have another thirty to forty years to recoup our losses.
Don’t despair – for one thing we have learned is that perpetuating our anxiety and anguish serves no one – and it only leads to more health challenges which we already have been encountering. So the wisdom of our age dictates that we will just take a deep breath and retool the pencil and analyze just how we can continue with our sojourns!
It comes down to a choice – to either sit back and count your pennies and cancel that dream of a lifetime trip or to move on and continue with your plans. If the latter be your destiny, as a flight attendant I wish to unlock my treasure-trove of ideas that we as flight crew share in order to stretch our budgets when traveling internationally.
The travel industry is also experiencing financial a downturn, now is the time to plan your travel. The secret is that you need to be the savvy consumer to do your research, be flexible and always negotiate your price.
Tip 1: Travel domestically or internationally has never been cheaper despite the recent increase of “fees” for this, “fees for that!” If you have a pre-booked reservation/travel plans you need to call and negotiate your travel plan at the lower rate. Do not be intimated to do this – even if you already put down a deposit. The travel industry right now is experiencing a downturn not seen since 911 so rather than realizing a cancellation they will be open to reduce your pre-arranged package.
Tip 2: Everything is negotiable – from hotel reservations, car rentals and airfare you can negotiate. As Americans we sometimes are uncomfortable in doing this – but for the experienced traveler you realize the whole world most destinations you always negotiate everything. This is especially true with your hotel reservations – you do not accept the first price but continue to ask a second and third time for a cheaper deal. Also ask what the “government” price is (even if you do not qualify) for this will give you some insight as to the very lowest the hotel will go to cover their costs etc. Government prices are much lower than the “senior or AAA” discounts!
Tip 3: Be aware of coupons or special promotions – generally dates and times may be less convenient but if you can be flexible and fit within their parameters you can realize great savings.
Tip 4: Airfare – the planes will be full because after the holidays they reduce the number of flights. If you are flexible, you can realize savings if you are willing to fly at odd hours. Also for example, sometimes booking a trip with stopover can be cheaper. I have seen cheaper flights from LAX to Boston but there is a stopover in JFK. You can purchase your ticket to Boston as final destination, but if your destination is JFK then you just depart upon your arrival to JFK and not finish the leg to Boston. However, you would not want your baggage to be sent onto Boston – so no checked bags!
Also you may have frequent flyer points accumulated so be sure to check on what you may be able to use to offset air cost.
Tip 5: Accommodations - consider other options other than the traditional hotels. Depending on the length of your stay other options could be renting a condo or home and what has been very successful is swap a home where you become part of a home swap network and with careful planning can for no charge stay a few weeks or months in a home of another person in the country of your choice. This is a wonderful network to belong too and of course the obvious best cost saving option available.
Tip 6: Finances – for years the dollar value was low when compared to international currencies. Recently with the global financial downturn the US dollar in some destinations is stronger. Generally when you need the foreign currency, stay away from the money changers at the airports for they tact on an additional fee and the exchange rate is higher.
The best place to get your foreign currency is through ATM machines. There are some US banks that will not charge you for this service so it is well worth opening an account with those creditors.
Tip 7: Stretching your food budget – often hotels will have meal plans as part of their packaged deals. However, do your homework and truly analyze based on your own personal needs, is the package meal plan the better option?
As crew it would cost a fortune if every night we had to dine in a restaurant. If we do want to dine we scope those restaurants that will have a fixed price for the entire meal. Secondly, we often just visit the local grocery store and purchase ready to eat food along with our beverage and resort to having our meal in our room. This is very cost effective.
I encourage each of you to bring your own gold to your golden years and just by some simple principles of retooling and renegotiating you can take that dream trip that you have been planning on!
July 9, 2013