Rigid New Year’s resolutions have a limited place in travel, where patience, understanding and flexibility are the building blocks to a successful trip. Most of the meltdowns I observed on the road in 2011 came when people refused to accept that plans had changed or didn’t do enough research about where they were going.
That being said, I made some travel blunders of my own last year that I’d like to avoid in 2012 (hey, when you’re on the road for 120 nights, hiccups are bound to happen). In no particular order, here are some of the money-saving resolutions that I vow to enforce this year:
Avoid destinations during peak weeks. Staying grounded during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, when infrequent travelers clog airport security, and flights are routinely overbooked, remains a smart strategy. Yet how do you satisfy distant family members who yearn to spend quality time together?
Our solution for 2012: Pick a non-holiday week that works for everyone and get together then. For our family of frequent travelers, we’ve decided that renting a villa in Belize in mid-November is a more affordable – and fun – option than coming together at the height of the pricey season.
Say goodbye to hotel wi-fi fees. Traveling professionally requires me to stay connected, no matter where I am,. Yet many hotels, particularly those in the Middle East and Asia, impose daily wi-fi charges that can add up on an extended stay (witness the $125 wi-fi bill I paid during a four-night stay in Cairo).
In 2012, I’m fighting back. On my first trip of year – a two week trip to Japan – I’ll be using a mi-fi device that will allow me to access the Internet at all times. The service costs $14.95-per-day, but that’s still cheaper than many hotels – and I won’t have to worry about finding coverage.
Become vigilant about airline status. I used to book the lowest fare, no matter what the airline. But the constant and continual fees that airlines have added in recent years mean that low base fares are deceiving. Having elite status on the Star Alliance or SkyTeam makes many of the peskiest add-ons, such as baggage fees and priority seating costs, go away. From now on, I’d rather stick with one or two airlines, where I can keep my perks, even if it means paying more.
Seek out counter-intuitive destinations. Egypt isn’t for everyone, particularly now when violent protests take place on a regular basis. Yet for intrepid travelers who plan their visits with an eye toward safety, seeing the country’s sights has never been more appealing. Luxury hotels can be had for a song, and there are no crowds at some of the world’s most historic sites.
For 2012, I’m eyeing several countries that have been in the news for the wrong reasons, including Mexico and Greece. While these trips may require some extra planning, I’ve found that visiting a country when the chips are down is not only easier on my wallet, it’s a chance to go behind the headlines and find out what’s actually going on.
Change dining habits. As an avowed foodie, I like to visit restaurants with notable chefs, which are rarely cheap. But I’ve found that I can try many of their famed dishes – for less money – if I go at lunch. It’s often easier to get a table at mid-day, plus you won’t drink as much wine.
Other good times to visit hot restaurants: Happy Hour, when many places practically give food away to encourage drinking (just make sure you nurse yours), or a less popular day of the week, such as Tuesday.
Do you have any travel resolutions for 2012? Share them below!