Even as American taxpayers bailed them out, executives of AIG enjoyed a $440,000 spa getaway to a decadent resort in California. If those guys think travel seems like a good idea now, who are we to argue, right?
While the still-unfolding global economic meltdown may seem like a major threat to your next vacation, the news may not be all bad. If you are careful, plan for contingencies, choose a good travel company, take a sensible vacation and look for the bright spots on the travel horizon, you can do very well at the moment — even if not “billion dollar bailout baby” well. Here are some tips on where to look, and where to look out when planning your next trip.
Reality Check Yourself:
Your first consideration, obviously, should be your own financial situation. Many of us need and deserve a vacation, and you should never undervalue the importance of the mental health factor For the cost conscious, there’s always the viewpoint of “you can’t take it with you”..but I’ve come up with a new motto: “you might as well spend it while ya got it”.
If you are inclined to treat yourself, which too few folks do often enough, taking a hard look at what a vacation actually costs you can sometimes be a good exercise. Thus,…
Do a Travel Budget:
If there was ever a time to do a proper travel budget, this is it. Most tend to do a quick accounting of the big expenses — airfare, hotel, car rental– add them up, and call it a budget. However, in a classic case of lots of small costs adding up to big expenses in the end, the less obvious costs incurred while traveling can turn out to be the actual budget breakers. Toward creating a more accurate budget, remember to research and include parking at airports, attraction entry fees, activity cost, hotel tip, ground transportation costs, food and more.
In cases like this, its often less expensive and duly more convenient to purchase a value-added vacation package.
The U.S. Dollar:
While most Americans worry that each dollar won’t have as much clout at the local grocery store, it turns out that our currency will do much better internationally than it has in some time. Currently at $1.36 against the euro, the dollar is the strongest it’s been since summer 2007.An improving exchange rate directly decreases the toll of those day-to-day expenses that can pile up during overseas travel. These are some of the things you purchase on the spot in local currency, and which thus actually get cheaper when the dollar picks up a little strength.Gas Prices DownAs of this writing, national gas prices are pegged at an average of about $2.90 per gallon, down, over 80 cents from July. Gasoline prices are not quite the bank breaker that they were just a few weeks back.
Saturday Night Stayover: If you have been researching airfares lately, you may have noticed the return of the dreaded Saturday night stay requirement. The airline practice of charging more for flights that depart and return inside the same work week, which had largely fallen by the wayside the past couple of years, has recently returned with a vengeance.If you can book your flights to include a Saturday night stay, you may find significant savings. This may in fact be good news for leisure travelers, who usually include at least one weekend in their itineraries; it is less so for business travelers. Note that we may see this pricing practice scaled back once again if businesses curtail employee travel considerably.
Fuel Surcharges Going Down?!?
Astounding as it may sound — it must be a public relations trick of some kind — but on earlier this month Northwest actually announced that the airline is reducing fuel surcharges. North of the border, Air Canada and WestJet have done the same; as these surcharge rollbacks get more publicity and momentum, we can probably expect other airlines to follow suit.
We are living in the most uncertain times in the United States in nearly a century, so any and all of the above may change at any minute, and dramatically — to the point where one guy is walking to work just to keep his job, while the other guy is getting a pedicure with an ocean view at the same time … on the first guy’s dime. Just ask the guys at AIG.