By Rhonda Campbell
Plans to stay indoors on snowy, winter days don’t always pan out. After several days, not venturing outside starts to bring on feelings that travelers feel while they’re stranded on a deserted island. Despite the best intentions, it’s not easy to limit yourself to the living room sofa, basement recreation area or den for a week or longer. As any submarine sailor knows, cabin fever starts to set in.
Tracking winter weather conditions before traveling
Client meetings, faraway visits home to see family and face-to-face management discussions could also pull you outdoors and onto snow covered roadways. Head outside during winter and you’ll have to devise a way to deal with rising hotel rates, airline prices, rental car fees, winter skin treatments, car accessories, medicine and clothing gear.
One of the biggest ways to save money while you travel during winter is to plan all winter trips in advance. Weather forecasters communicate expected temperatures and precipitation several weeks out. Stay in tune with winter weather forecasts until the day of your trip. For some trips, you’ll want to check in on weather as far out as possible.
Reserve airline tickets six weeks in advance. According to the Airlines Reporting Corporation, you might save more money if you book international flights as far as 20 to 23 weeks in advance. International flights to the Caribbean might need a 12 week advance reservation to get the best savings. Also, be willing to reserve a flight that has one to two stops built into it.
More about winter flights and what to pack
Should you have to cancel a nonrefundable flight, you might be in luck. Contact the airlines you purchased the nonrefundable ticket from and tell the representative why you are unable to travel. If you can’t get a cash refund, see if you can use the ticket on a future flight. Don’t just assume that you’re out of the money. This tip applies to anything travel services that you pay for.
As you’ve probably learned in other sales exchanges, you never really know how price discount and refund negotiations will turn out until you pick up the phone and call the travel organization’s customer service line. Build a relationship with the customer service representative who answers the phone the same as sales reps build a relationship with you to make a sale. Explain your situation to the rep, clearly outlining why you need and deserve a refund.
Other ways to save money while traveling during winter focus on packing. If you pack the following items during winter, you could avoid dry itchy skin and colds, events that lead to pharmaceutical or doctor’s bills. So, be sure to pack:
- Lotion or body moisturizer (ceramide helps to treat dry skin)
- Long johns or thermal underwear
- Hat and gloves that do not soak thru when they get wet
- Winter boots
- Extra socks
- Flashlight (for road travel)
- Cell phone and cell phone charger
- Winter coat
- Laptop and laptop case
- Two to three extra blankets if you’re traveling by car
- Enough perishable food to last one week (again if you’re traveling by car)
Hotel prices and other ways to save
To save money on hotels, book hotels in warm locations early. Snow birds will be looking to grab up rooms at the same time, enticing hotel owners to raise prices to yield a bigger profit. Use applications like Kayak and Hotel Booking App to compare hotel prices. Got a friend who works for a major corporation? Ask her to search for great hotel deals for you. Corporations contract for low price deals with hotels.
Take advantage of membership discounts (this is when your AAA membership could save you 10%). Also, book hotels, flights and rental cars as a package deal. You could also save money by booking travel to off season locations. Be sure to ask about group discounts.
If you have friends who travel for business or pleasure, ask them to suggest winter travel deals to you. While traveling through airports, keep a close eye on your laptop. After all, laptops are the number one stolen item at airports. No need to have to put out money to buy a new laptop.
By creating and sticking to an agenda, you could avoid spending extra money on clothes, food and entertainment. Consider bringing a journal to capture memorable events. Your cell phone is also a good resource for picture taking. Track how much you spend on your winter trip in case you return to the area. This way you’ll have an idea of when you’re getting a good price on flights, hotels and/or rental cars.