Are you planning a weekend vacation soon? Do you want to have fun yet not break the bank? If you can spare some time to plan, you will definitely save money.
To help you get started (and to speed up the investigative process), take advantage of all the resources available at Morale, Welfare and Recreation. The MWR offers an array of travel options that will fit your budget. Most of the representatives are experienced travelers, so they can offer professional and personal advice. In their offices, there are fliers, brochures and booklets of entertainment and attractions for you to take home to review. Now, you have all the information you need to get started — but don’t buy your vacation package yet.
Here are some tips to save money:
Emails: Create an email address for your vacation planning. So if you are planning to go to San Antonio, you can create an email address such as SanAntonioTrip@hotmail.com. This will keep all your vacation related emails in one spot, rather than in your personal or work email.
Airline deals and USO in airports: If you are flying out of the area, use www.tripadvisor.com, www.kayak.com and www.expedia.com to find multiple websites for the best deals. Don’t just use a particular airline website, use a website that offers a variety of competitive flight pricing so you can keep your options open for departure/arrival time, layovers, airlines and airport options. Time is in your favor if you look for tickets early. You can score a deal if you book weeks in advance.
Accommodations: Search for military affiliated hotels online and use www.hotels.com to find the best rates in the area. Call the hotel to ensure availability and confirm prices that you see online. If the hotel has higher rates, let them know that rates are lower online and ask to negotiate prices. This would work if you need to book within a short amount of time. Hotels want to fill their rooms up and at that time they are willing to compromise on prices. Certain hotels offer special rates for military, AARP members, etc. so inquire about those deals!
Chamber of Commerce local information: Look up the city and nearby cities/towns’ chamber of commerce websites and Facebook pages. These will offer loads of information so when you are visiting, you will feel at ease and not feel like a complete stranger in the area. Most will highlight local business offers, offer a calendar of events, maps, along with business details and phone numbers of places to visit. Check to see if they offer “city passes,” which offer discounted tickets to popular attractions. Go to www.CityPass.com for more information.
Local discounts and feedback: After visiting the Chamber of Commerce and getting ideas of what you want to do, make sure you check out those themepark(s), restaurants, attractions’ websites and Facebook pages for operating times, prices, special information and even special offers! Use that vacationing email address and sign up for emails from those attractions and restaurants.. If you have Facebook and Yelp, make sure you review customers’ feedbacks. This will provide honest opinions and you’ll know if it’s worth buying and visiting, especially when the review includes any information of special areas closed off or being renovated. No one wants to spend lots of money on partial visits!
Now that you have done your homework, you are ready to plan your vacation based on your budget and details you found. You can now ask MWR to assist with your travel requests or book everything on your own.