Paring Down Vacation Costs

I am just glad that I have already booked my hotels in Madrid, Barcelona and Venice (part of my Christmas present to my wife) in U.S. dollars. If I had done it in Euros, the cost of each nightly stay would be going up every day before we even get there. We thought it was bad 15 months ago when it took $1.20 for every Euro; but now, a Euro is worth $1.54, and the dollar continues to plummet.

Needless to say, travel abroad is not the best value. Not unless you are onboard a cruise ship, which, by the way, is a fantastic value, because your hotel room floats with you and all meals are included.

Unless you are going to a destination that is less than 500 miles away, don’t look to save anything by driving rather than flying, either. Gasoline prices are predicted to hit $4.00 per gallon by Memorial Day, so even a thousand mile round trip, based on IRS allowances of almost 50-cents per mile, would result in a cost of about $500 for just driving your car.

At the moment, Southwest Airlines is promoting an internet sale: “Nationwide Sale – Fly from $49 to $99 one-way from April 1 – June 25, 2008.” You will also find lots of internet specials when you check fares to anywhere they fly up through the October 31, 2008. I mention this because that means virtually all of their competitors will be offering lower prices to anywhere Southwest flies throughout the summer. This pretty much opens most of the United States for very reasonable air fares as you plan your summer vacation.

You can expand your thinking beyond Southern California to include the San Francisco area, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle on the West Coast. Think Denver and nearby Rocky Mountain National Park, or our nation’s capitol via Baltimore-Washington International, Philadelphia, New York, and New England via Providence, Hartford or Albany. Consider the Great Smokey Mountains via Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina. And yes, since Southwest flies into both Orlando and Tampa, Florida, air fares on all carriers are quite good for midweek travel if you have Walt Disney World on your mind. Southwest also opens up the Midwest via Kansas City, St. Louis or Chicago, and Cleveland and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. – DS

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