by Julie Tam

How to Get a Bargain On…

Hotels
As a generality, most hotels stay no more than 50 percent booked on any given day, except for during special occasions or events. So the hotel would rather give you a discount than leave the room empty. The housekeeping staff still will work the same number of hours, whether or not they clean one more room. The cost is very minimal for a change of linens and toiletries.

  1. When booking, call and talk to the reservation desk and maybe the manager, if you don’t get anywhere with the clerk. Try to get the unpublished rate (not found online or published anywhere else) or AAA rate for a room that costs less than the room you’re going for. That way, you already have a free upgrade, and at the AAA rate — double discount.
  2. Then when you arrive to check in, request a free upgrade. If the hotel obliges, you’ll have two free upgrades, plus the AAA discount! I’ve found, if you just smile and ask nicely (or strike up a casual conversation), you’ll get the deal.
  3. If you’ve stayed at that hotel or another one in the chain before, use your “frequent customer” status (whether or not there’s a rewards program) to negotiate a better room rate. Oh, and ask for a late checkout and a nicer view. Those don’t cost hotels a thing, but they’ll improve your experience.
  4. Take the toiletries (hotels won’t reuse them) and other freebies (e.g. coffee, shower caps, cotton balls). You pay for them when you book the room, so they’re rightfully yours to use and take. I’ve amassed so many bottles of shampoos, lotions, body wash, and other useful items, I haven’t had to buy a lot of those personal care items in years. If you’re going to travel anyway, you might as well save where you can.

Rental Cars
Unless you want a really nice or large car, book the cheapest car. Then when you go to the rental car counter to get your car, if the company has run out of the cheapest cars (happens somewhat often since most people go for the cheapest cars), the clerk will upgrade you to the next car level for free. Hey, it wasn’t your fault they ran out of the type of car you wanted.

Stores, Street Vendors
If the price isn’t listed or you see other people bargaining, especially natives, bargain.

  1. Name the price you think the item is worth at wholesale. Walking away to pretend you don’t want to buy the item often works, but make sure you’re ok with not getting the item. If the vendor doesn’t call for you to come back, you’ll look pretty silly coming back because you desperately want the item and can’t get it anywhere else.
  2. Speaking of which, when it comes to malls, outdoor markets, and other similar shopping venues, you’ll often find the same product at different stores. They often cater to tourists. So, if you have time, shop around and find the store selling the product for the lowest price. Then go bargain with a different store to get that store to lower its price to below the lowest price. If that doesn’t work, at least you still can go to the cheapest store and get the lowest price.
  3. It also helps if you speak the native language in whatever country you visit. Using local slang and proper tones of voice can help you banter with the store employee or owner for a good deal.

How to Pack Smart and Light

With all the strict TSA rules and airlines charging a fortune to check bags, you have to know how to pack efficiently to save money and make your life easier.

  1. Most hotels provide shampoo, so there’s no need to pack that. It’ll just take up room in your Ziploc bag. Already, most of us women find that a quart-sized Ziploc bag isn’t big enough for all the liquids we need on a trip, especially an extended trip. Clearly, a man made up that TSA rule!
  2. Avoid the fees for checking bags, if your airline doesn’t give you free bag check, by bringing a minimal amount of clothes. Unless you’re putting on your own fashion show, you don’t need an entirely different outfit for each day of your trip. I mix and match. Bring tops, bottoms, and accessories you can re-arrange to look like different outfits. If you don’t see the same people every day, and even if you do, most people won’t notice. And who cares if they do. The point is to travel light.
  3. Bring functional shoes. A pair of tennis shoes will serve as walking shoes for most days while you’re out sightseeing. If you have a formal event to attend, bring one pair of dress shoes. If you need another pair of shoes that’s slightly nicer or professional, pack one pair that matches most of your clothes. If you stick to a color scheme where you can mix and match everything, you’ll be able to pack less.
  4. Bring an empty thin tote bag or shopping bag to bring back any excess shopping finds that don’t fit into the suitcase you brought with you.
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One Response to “Smart Travel Tips”


  1. I think you are right. There are many ways to get such facilities like hotel upgrades and on land upgrades but we have to play smart. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts with us.

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