Luxury Travel for Less
By Beverly Weber
Imagine checking into a resort
hotel, the kind you always see
in the movies:  sparkling pools
with stone waterfalls and hot
tubs, the smell of exotic
flowers in bloom, bellhops and
hotel staff at your beck and
call,perhaps even a full
breakfast buffet of ham,
bacon, roast beef, and an
omelet bar.  

As you stroll the grounds, you
observe your fellow guests, all
of whom have arrived in brand-
new or current year Accuras,
Lexus’, or BMW’s.  Many of
these fine people have even
brought along their golf clubs
so they can make use of the
attached course located right
behind the hotel.  You imagine
why they might be staying at
such a luxurious resort
location.  Are they here
courtesy of their corporation,
or on vacation for a week?  

Furthermore, you can’t help
but wonder how they
managed to afford the $200 or
more per night going room
rate because YOU paid a mere
$42, two months ago on
Priceline.com.  Even better,
when you checked into that
resort and began your
vacation, nearly everything
you will spend during your
vacation has been pre-paid,
again courtesy of either
priceline.com or Orbitz.  The
rental car (3 days through
Orbitz) cost all of $35 per day
and you paid for that luxury
last month when you booked
the rental.  At least a portion of
your meals will have been paid
for up-front, up to a year in
advance, because you
purchased restaurant gift
certificates through restaurant.
com.  

I confess:  I am not a retiree.  I
am a sixth grade teacher.  
Because I chose this
profession, there are times
when the month has lasted
longer than the money and I
have had a couple of setbacks
from time-to-time.  It doesn’t
take much to flatten a person
on a fixed income and a school
teacher’s income is definitely
fixed, at least for that school
year.  My father is The Grouch
and I have had to endure his
lectures all my life.  But he’s
right, even if his lectures are
annoying as heck.  I do know
how to save hundreds of
dollars on a vacation or other
trip and have fun doing it, in
spite of being so poor I could
hardly afford to pay attention.

My vacations are all courtesy
of priceline.com and have all
cost me less than $180 per
‘getaway weekend’.  I haven’t
traveled to exotic places, but I
have zipped from Nashville to
San Diego, Chicago, Kansas
City, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Lake
Tahoe and Reno and then to
my current home of Phoenix.  
Priceline and Orbitz are
awesome ways to save big
bucks on those trips.  If I am
driving and the location in
which I plan to rest my head
for the night isn’t one that is
serviced via priceline, then I
stop at a truck stop and pick up
one of those “traveler’s hotel
coupon books”.  If I have a co-
pilot, he or she does the
planning and finds the motel
that will work using the
coupons we have.  If the trip is
planned in advance, then going
on the internet to buy pre-paid
motel coupons from Days Inn
and others is a huge money
saver.

Another handy tip: don’t forget
to use traveler’s checks (or
traveler’s check card) instead
of money.  Buy them ahead of
time, keep them in a safe-
deposit box or other secure
location, and use THEM,
instead of money, for the
majority of your unplanned
expenses.  If something
happens to your credit card or
debit card, DON’T BELIEVE the
commercials.  They say you get
your money back in your
account instantly.  Maybe.  
Maybe not.  Depends on your
bank and you want to have a
stress-free vacation.  

As teachers, my husband and I
rely heavily on traveler’s
checks each summer as a
means of carefully managing
our spending.  Trust me, the
hassle to pick up a book of
these is worth every penny.  In
fact, they are free to members
of AAA, so the only thing you
are losing is a little time on
your way out of town.  Ask the
Grouch if you want to hear
first-hand the agony of the
stolen check card (sorry Dad)

With your new rental car and
your luxurious digs at that
fancy resort, your Visa card
will not take the beating that
most others are enduring right
now.  You have pre-planned
your vacation well and can
now R-E-L-A-X knowing that
when you return back home no
ugly surprises will await you in
the mailbox.
The Frugal
Retiree
CheapOstay