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Travel Detective Blog: 5 Unexpected Ways to Save this Summer

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We’re all feeling the pinch when we travel this summer, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to score a deal. The Travel Detective reaches into his bag of tricks to share five ways to save this summer.

In the past two weeks, I’ve flown from Mexico to New York to Shanghai to the Middle East to Los Angeles to Australia and almost all of the flights were completely full. Airlines are cutting flights and they’re cutting routes. And we all know fewer planes equals fewer flights equals fewer seats. The law of supply and demand kicks in, and now airfares have absolutely nowhere to go but up. And it’s the same for hotels: According to STR Global, a hotel research firm in Nashville, there is record demand for hotel rooms and rates are on the rise.

So we’ve seen high airfares and high hotel costs this summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t beat the system. Here are five ideas that go beyond the standard travel deal.

1. When it comes to summer travel, we all know to travel in the off season for savings but there are a few creative surprises this year. Think 60 percent savings in the Caribbean where Antigua’s Jolly Beach Resort & Spa has rates that start at just $168 per person, based on double occupancy. In Arizona, the L’Auberge de Sedona will take the temperature on Oak Creek and compare it to the temperature at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport—and guests receive a discount of that difference through Labor Day. Then in Delray Beach, Florida, right now there are 33 percent discounts at the Seagate Hotel & Spa—the package comes with fitness classes, a $50 resort credit and more.

2. You may turn your nose up at bus travel, but crowded flights mean crowded airports and longer travel times. Sometimes buses, especially in the highly trafficked Northeast corridor, save you time and money. Let’s look at travel between New York and Washington, D.C. You might think Amtrak is the best bet, but it’s more than $100 round-trip. Meanwhile, if you book online a bus can be as little as $1, though $40 is the average, and you get wireless Internet. To put that in perspective, flying between the two cities takes almost the same amount of time if you include getting to and from the airport, and can cost five times as much.

  1. One of my tips for traveling like a local has been to visit residential neighborhoods, but if you’re looking for bigger savings consider staying in a residential neighborhood. Take New Orleans for example. If you stay in the French Quarter near Bourbon Street, expect to pay on average $150 a night for a basic hotel room. However, if you head toward the Garden District and Magazine Street, not only will you have the chance to stay at smaller properties, all nine of the available options for this July currently have rates under $150.
  1. When it comes to summer travel, the key to saving money is to make your own excursion. Here’s where public transportation is your friend. In New York, you probably know about the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty for free, but there are ferries in Alaska, Wisconsin and North Carolina. Off the water, in Europe, public buses go along the same routes as those tourist buses. In Paris, line 69 gives you views of the famous Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the Marais district, Notre Damn, the Louvre and of course the Eiffel tower. In London, try RVI to see the Tower Bridge, the Tate Modern and the London Eye. Looking for more of the best bus and ferry routes? Pick up the a copy of my book, The Best Places for Everything, which has more than 75 money-saving ways to experience the best.
  1. The only thing better than getting a deal is getting something free. This summer, we put together an Summer Survey & Sweepstake giving away a series of hotel stays at Villa del Palmar Beach Resorts & Spas properties in Puerto Vallarta, Riviera Nayarit, Cancun, and Cabo San Lucas, culminating in a grand-prize giveaway of an 8-day, 7-night, all-inclusive stay in Loreto, Mexico, including round-trip airfare from LAX. To enter the sweepstakes, simply sign up for’s daily e-newsletter, Travel News Daily, for the latest travel news and tips. In the daily newsletter, you’ll find the link to take a short survey, complete the survey and you’re enrolled in our weekly drawings every Thursday.

For more ways to money-saving summer travel tips, check out:

By Peter Greenberg for Peter