We’re all feeling the pinch. Luckily– airlines, hotels, and restaurants are included in that ‘we’ as well.
While some of the ads you see suggesting, ‘once in a lifetime deals!’ are just marketing, others are truly advertising once in a lifetime travel opportunities. Australia and New Zealand for example, have never been so affordable. Airfares are currently offered at a fraction of the cost travelers may have seen a few years ago, making the present a tempting time to travel down under.
And yet, if we don’t have the extra disposable income to travel, all of this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity doesn’t amount to anything but frustration. During my grand tour of Europe, I learned some tactics towards being able to travel where and when I wanted to, despite financial restraints. In addition, working as a journalist over the last couple years has given me an insider’s perspective on how hotels are trying to lure guests despite the recession. There seems no time like the present to share this inside knowledge:
1. Make the Journey Part of the Vacation: For some of us, the recession means staying closer to home. While some people may view this as a downer, you can also choose to view it as an opportunity. Ireland is a small island, and a major gateway to Europe, but has more areas to explore than I would have previously imagined. It’s amazing how rejuvenating a normal weekend away can be, if you take certain precautions.
Accommodation is always going to be a major financial factor for traveling. Increase your odds of getting what you want by following these guidelines: a. Sign up to receive e-newsletters: If there’s a hotel, no matter how lavish or remote you’re interested in staying in, sign up for their e-newsletter. This is often where the best deals are offered. Hotels are trying to earn repeat customers, and will offer last-minute and package deals to a select audience before opening it up to the public. Often, these deals are gone within hours of being advertised. b. Privately owned = Discounts: Corporate owned hotels don’t get to decide when / how to offer deals; but privately owned hotels do. If there’s a special bed and breakfast or lodge a couple hours drive away, send an e-mail asking about last-minute offers, and show some flexibility in your schedule.
2. Let the Recession Choose Your Destination: There are many destinations we never choose to visit, but when we are forced to (weddings, family reunions, traveling for work..) we are sorry that we didn’t give a location more credit to begin with. If you have a certain week or weekend that you are hoping to get away, do some research to see where you can get for the cheapest fare. This method has brought friends of mine to places such as Poland and Latvia, and who have come back with their eyes opened to countries and cities that they may not have given a chance before. The same goes for America– have you been a close-minded traveler? You can add some spontaneity to your travel routine by letting the recession wind take you where the discounts are.
3. Infuse Travel Into Your Daily Life: What are the things you love most about being away? Is it the restaurants, the lack of responsibility, or the feeling of exploration? It is possible to infuse all of this into your daily life. I keep a list of things to do, that I haven’t yet done in Dublin. From galleries to visit to new neighborhoods to explore, whenever that ‘boredom’ sets in, I have my list to consult. Something as simple as trying a new pizzeria, and seeing what you find while seeking out the pizzeria, brings a new light to an ‘old’ city. Seek out inspiration when it comes to your hometown: read the newspaper for restaurant reviews, keep up to date with cultural offerings, and try not to get too comfortable with the familiar.
4. Travel Anyway: We need to keep some pleasures in our lives, and for some of us, travel is a pleasure priority. My father always said, the bills will be there when you get home. And if you went, at least you’ll have the memories to think of when you’re back home working. The anticipation of travel is half the pleasure as well: making plans, researching, setting aside time to spend with loved ones. I’m traveling to Venice in 2 weeks time, and the anticipation has eased the transition from late summer to early autumn, the cooler nights, the longer work days; I know there is a wine bar in Venice waiting for me with a glass of house red wine down some mysterious alleyway I’ll discover one afternoon.