Lower the Cost of Your Vacation! Pay in Advance!

The trip I took to Ireland this past May was made significantly more affordable because I paid for my hotels weeks—months—in advance. Yes! Both Bewley’s and the Camden Court offered great deals on rooms—as long as I would book and pay (nonrefundable) in advance.

I was reminded of this when I read this article in Time magazine.

After years in which both snow and the economy have been iffy, skiers and boarders have been booking winter vacations later and later—or sometimes not at all. So, to lock in dollars early, resort companies are pushing preseason deals that tempt enthusiasts with access to multiple mountains for a single discounted price, as long as they buy when it’s still waterskiing season. …

Some skiers might not like the idea of paying long before snow falls, but the push is working. Once the domain of locals, season passes are snatched up by global ski tourists. Vail’s 300,000 pass holders—who represent $207 million in revenue—come from 50 states and 78 countries. Sales have nearly doubled in the past six years, accounting for about 40% of the company’s lift-ticket revenues. … The earlier you bite, the better the deal—and the sooner you can begin praying for snow.

Of course, airlines have long offered a price break if you pay in advance. The concept is the same—a business fills up seats or rooms early, which helps in budget planning. Apparently this idea is nothing new. This article from Budget Travel reminds:

Who wants to think about winter when it’s still summer? But you might want to reconsider because we’ve got 11 irresistible winter getaways that can put you on world-class slopes or white-sand beaches. There’s just one catch: If you want a price as dreamy as these trips, don’t wait for the first snowfall to make your reservation. (Emphasis mine.)

The list includes cheap airfare and rooms in Florida, Hawaii, Califonia, Montana … and Mexico, Italy, Vietnam, and more.

Remember, these aren’t off-season discounts—though great deals can be had during the off-season too—but discounts offered for pay-in-advance customers. Nonrefundable doesn’t work for everyone, but in my case, it was a wedding I didn’t want to miss. I knew I was going. So be sure to look for a lock-in price package when you make your next vacation plan!

Travel: There’s an App for That

I spend a lot of time planning my trips; I love the anticipation itch that planning scratches. Still, as you know, even a well-planned trip can go off the rails—a missed flight, for example, or an unexpected case of pneumonia.

But I spend more time at home than I do traveling. I’m not a frequent flyer. So it never crossed my mind that there are dozens of apps to make travel easier.

Some years ago I worked for Mike Hyatt, and I’ve followed his blog for some time (along with about a hundred thousand other people). No longer at the publishing company where we met, Mike is now a popular public speaker and author, and as such he does a lot of traveling. So you can imagine my delight when I found this blog post in my in-box: “Are You Using These Top 5 Travel Apps?

Here’s a sample:

1. TripIt. This is “command central” for my travel details. My assistants and I use it to maintain all my transportation and accommodation information. When they book a flight or a hotel, they forward the information to TripIt. The program parses the email and creates neat records with all the details. It tells me when flights are delayed, the travel time, my seat assignments, confirmation numbers, and whether or not the flight provides wireless Internet service. It gives me similar information about hotels.

Mike goes on to name four other travel apps he finds useful, including one called Uber, which allows you to book limousine service from your iPhone. Don’t assume it’s too expensive, he says: “I find it is often much cheaper than a rental car.” I can affirm this: Gerry and I booked limos from LaGuardia to midtown Manhattan and they were cheaper than cabs.

So read this article—you may find something very useful for your business or pleasure travel. Best of all, Mike encourages his readers to leave suggestions in the comments—and holy cow, are there some good ones:

• Gate Guru: It gives a list of all the restaurants, snack stands, and shops in the terminals of most airports.

• Seat Guru: Find low airfares, pick your ideal seat on the plane, and get real-time flight alerts with the free SeatGuru app.

• GlobeConvert: Currency and units converter.

• HotStop: Local transit directions (subway, train, bus, ferry, bike).

• Bedbug Registry: self-explanatory.

• AroundMe: Quickly identifies your position and allows you to choose the nearest bank, bar, gas station, hospital, hotel, movie theater, restaurant, supermarket, and so on.

Check it out!