The Do's and Don'ts of Finding a Great Deal

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The Dos and Donts of Finding a Great Deal

There's a big difference between taking a personalized city tour with a private guide and spending the afternoon on a double-decker bus crammed with camera-toting tourists. If sightseeing excursions are included in your travel package, ask your agent ahead of time what the conditions of the tour will be. Traveling internationally? Be sure to ask the agency whether your guide is certified through his local tourist board to conduct tours in English. However charming a native tour guide may be, you'll be easily frustrated if his language skills aren't adequate.

The Dos and Donts of Finding a Great Deal

Never agree to a package until you've looked carefully at the itinerary. Technically, a "five night" package could have you arriving at your hotel late at night and leaving before breakfast is served on the last day. Additionally, it never hurts to calculate the likelihood of arriving on time (Orbitz Traveler Update page allows you to do this easily by entering your flight information: updates.orbitz.com)-even if your arrival is scheduled earlier in the day, you could be delayed by airport congestion, rush hour traffic, or weather conditions.

The Dos and Donts of Finding a Great Deal

When it comes to the "free" breakfast, you never know what you're going to get. You might be welcomed to a lavish breakfast buffet complete with made-to-order omelets and freshly squeezed orange juice, or you could be directed to the hotel lobby for instant coffee and corn flakes. You can ask your travel agent for details on what you can expect, or check out the hotel's website, but for the most honest reports, type the hotel's name into the search engine on TripAdvisor (www.tripadvisor.com) to read dozens of reviews by real travelers.

The Dos and Donts of Finding a Great Deal

Travel lingo can be confusing. Many packages advertise a "free upgrade" that isn't really free. Basically, if you book a regular room at the standard rate, and later choose to upgrade to a higher level or "deluxe" room, then the hotel will upgrade you to a suite for "free." Bottom line: read the fine print before you start day-dreaming about the lap of luxury.

The Dos and Donts of Finding a Great Deal


Just because a rental car is included in the package doesn't mean that you won't be spending hundreds of extra dollars on associated costs. A basic insurance policy may not be included in the deal, and the rental arrangement doesn't necessarily include unlimited mileage. The cost of gasoline, of course, adds significant dollars to your trip. Read the fine print about the car rental agreement, then log onto www.fuelcostcalculator.com to estimate how much you'll have to spend at the gas station. The web form prompts you to enter the vehicle make and year, so if you know you're going to have a few car options at the rental desk, run a price comparison ahead of time so you can make a more economical choice. If your budget is really tight, find the cheapest gas in any area at Gas Buddy (www.gasbuddy.com.)

The Dos and Donts of Finding a Great Deal

There's at least one item that no travel package includes: the fees associated with passports, visas, and entry into foreign countries. US citizens need to apply in advance for a temporary visa to enter countries like Brazil, and several other countries are now charging Americans 'reciprocity fees' of around $130. You'll have to pay, sometimes cash only, at the customs hall as you enter the foreign airport. Visit www.travel.state.gov to read up on the current requirements to enter your destination.

The Dos and Donts of Finding a Great Deal

Before you pounce on that too-good-to-be-true vacation package to Hawaii, check to see if taxes are included-many times they aren't and can add hundreds of dollars to the price tag. Hotels in many US states are required to tack on taxes-ten percent in California, for instance-to the regular room price. But the place where the fees really start adding up is at the airport: if the package price is calculated using only the airline's "base fare," you can expect to pay up to $20 for Airport Passenger Facility Charges and up to another $20 for Federal and Security fees. If you're traveling internationally, you'll pay significantly more for airport taxes and 'inspection' fees. Because travelers pay taxes at each airport they pass through, just remember that the fewer connections you have, the cheaper the flight will be.

The Dos and Donts of Finding a Great Deal

There's a big difference between taking a personalized city tour with a private guide and spending the afternoon on a double-decker bus crammed with camera-toting tourists. If sightseeing excursions are included in your travel package, ask your agent ahead of time what the conditions of the tour will be. Traveling internationally? Be sure to ask the agency whether your guide is certified through his local tourist board to conduct tours in English. However charming a native tour guide may be, you'll be easily frustrated if his language skills aren't adequate.

The Dos and Donts of Finding a Great Deal

Some travel packages don't list hotel or resort names, but simply claim that the included accommodations are "conveniently located." Convenience, of course, is in the eye of the beholder and nothing is more disappointing than being ten miles from the beach when you were dreaming about opening your door onto the ocean. Be smart-avoid disappointment by asking for the hotel address and then typing that address into Google Maps (maps.google.com) to find out how far you'll be from your favorite attractions.

The Dos and Donts of Finding a Great Deal

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The Dos and Donts of Finding a Great Deal

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