THE AFFORDABLE VACATION

If I told you that business is booming across the board in the travel industry, I know that you would question my understanding of today’s economy.

Tour companies, hotels, cruise lines, resorts and airlines are scurrying to stay alive through creative marketing techniques and sales.  They are offering new insurance to protect you in case of job loss, being aware that one in three Americans sustained a job loss or pay cut within their own home. 

Some international tour companies are giving special airfare discounts for the second person travelling, discounts if you prepay your trip a certain number of months prior to departure, free airport transfers on arrival/departure at your destination (again, depends on tour comany) and some are offering a complimentary sightseieng tour.

New hotels and renovations were already started on on the books two or three years ago.  As a result, many hotels are lowering their nightly prices.  Sandals Resorts in the Caribbean are offerng (for a limited time) savings up to 60% on select resorts on specific dates.  You could get 3 nights free on some packages, but you have to book before March 31, 2009 and travel now through December 26, 2009.

Holland America Line has a “Vacation Stimulus Plan” suspending their fuel supplements and offering 50% off your deposit on any of their cruises departing after May 1, 2009.  In their Mariner flyer (you qualify if you’ve cruised with them previously, and registered as a Mariner) if you book one of their Asia, Australia and South Pacific cruises by March 31, 2009 the cruise plus airfare starts from only $150 per day per person (double occupancy) flying to or from Sydney aboard their new Quantas A380 aircraft.  Carnival, Costa, Royal Caribbean, NCL and others have special “sales” and travel benefits, but you must be aware of the restrictions.

Airlines are beginning to include some of their former amenities and most fuel supplements are dropped.  Airline consolidators have kept international flight costs reasonable, but make sure you deal with a well established company.  Travellers are returning to professional travel agents to do their shopping and find real bargains.

Travel Impressions, a tour company offers a 4 night land only (no airfare) trip to New Orleans including round-trip airport/hotel transfers, hotel accommodations and tax from $289 per person double occupancy at the W New Orleans.  Their Quebec City, Canada package starts at 3 nights (land only) from $239 with round-trip airport/hotel transfers and accommodations at the Delta Quebec including thrid night free and hotel tax.  Upgrades are available.

The bargains are there.  If you have frequent flyer points with airlines, what better time to use them?  Please be aware of restrictings, booking and prepayment dates and have a great vacation this year.  You deserve it!