Given below is a list of some of the cheapest places to travel to across the globe, spread across three different continents, which will ensure that you’re spoiled for choice. Read along to find out why, besides being cheap travel destinations, these places are ideal choices for spending your vacation at with family and friends!
Cheapest Places to Travel to in America
Check out these amazing destination ideas for cheap vacations in America! Besides being pocket friendly, these American countries have very rich and interesting cultural heritage rife with exotic charms that would definitely sweep you off your feet!
Costa Rica: Golden beaches, tropical climate and an amazingly hospitable populace makes Costa Rica a wonderful beach vacation destination in Central America! The Hispanic culture is absolutely endearing, as are the genial and beautiful people there! Pick up any Costa Rica travel guide and it’ll tell you what you should expect on your Costa Rica vacation! Coming to the best part, although Costa Rica is among the moderately expensive Central American nations, its currency, the Colón, is cheaper than the US Dollar, the current exchange rate being USD 1 = CRC 500 (approx). This makes Costa Rica an economically attractive foreign destination for spending the festive season at!
Argentina: Think Argentina and the twin images of football and Diego Maradona float in front of your eyes! Besides its phenomenal association with football and football legends, the rich history, picturesque natural endowments and excellent steak and famous wine of this country make Argentina a great travel destination for this festive season! Oh yes, vacationing in Argentina is cheap too as the Argentina Pesos are cheaper than the US Dollar, with the USD and ARS exchange rate being approximately USD 1= ARS 4!
Other Cheap American Destinations: Besides the above two, other American countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Antigua, etc., are gradually opening up to tourism and these countries are cheap but interesting travel destinations for the leisurely explorer!
Cheapest Places to Travel to in Europe
The falling Euro has made touring Europe an attractive holidaying option and you can economically vacation in many European countries without having to worry about going broke! Rich with scenic beauty and romantic allusions, Europe offers several schemes for cheap vacations for couples. Check out some cheap Europe vacation destinations below.
Greece: Need I say anything at all about the historical and mythological grandeur that surrounds Greece and its culture? Anyone who has read about Greek war heroes like Achilles, Theseus, Perseus and Hector and have looked at pictures of the glorious Parthenon must have had that persistent longing, almost like an unscratchable itch, to set foot upon this great country and witness the remnants of its magnificent past with one’s own eyes! Now comes the good news – you can take advantage of cheap lodging options during your Greece travel with EUR 10 hostels and EUR 20 hotels available all across the island, besides delicious food and entertainment options at a fraction of the price charged anywhere else in Europe!
Hungary: Beautiful landscapes coupled with rich history and traditional connotations, Hungary is one European country you should not miss this season! Besides, at an exchange rate of USD 1 = HUF 198 (approx), the cheap Hungarian Forint offers you an attractively economic Europe vacation!
Eastern European Countries: Eastern European countries like Poland, Croatia, Czech Republic, Albania and Bulgaria are great options if you wish to spend your touring Europe but wish to keep your pocket happy too! All these countries are rife with interesting traditions, mesmerizing folklore, fairytale landscapes, and exotic cultural heritage! Plus, they’re inexpensive compared to other European countries like France and United Kingdom!
Cheapest Places to Travel to in Asia
If you want a truly exotic yet inexpensive vacation, then you got to check out these Asian tourism treasure troves!
India: The land of soothsayers and snake charmers has much more to offer than just these! India is a country with a complex yet rich history and cultural heritage. It is the lap of alternative healing and wellness techniques such as Ayurveda and Yoga. An inexpensive vacation destination, India travel is sure to hold you spellbound with India’s cultural and traditional variety and a hybrid Oriental flavor on one hand and rapid socio-economic development and modernization on the other! In short, an Asian country worth visiting!
Cambodia: An incredibly cheap country, you would find it extremely easy to get around in Cambodia as you have very easy access for converting currency. Also, most articles are priced under a dollar there! Lodging can be got for as cheap a price as $2 for one night!
Vietnam: A breathtaking coastline and beautiful inland scenic charms coupled with inexpensive prices makes Vietnam one of the most inexpensive places to travel to in Asia!
Other Cheap Asian Destinations: Besides India, Cambodia and Vietnam, countries like Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia are great Asian travel destinations of all time, Malaysia being slightly expensive among the other options cited here.
Those were some of the most prominent yet inexpensive places to travel to all over the globe. Other destination options that can be considered as good ideas for family vacation on a budget may include Egypt, China, Romania, Serbia and Bosnia. Besides being cheap, these countries offer a lot of tourist attractions in the form of festivities, heritage, fabulous food and an insight into diverse cultural traditions and beliefs. So, where are you heading this vacation for the time of your life?
So, You Want To Go Traveling
The easy part is deciding you want to go traveling. The hard part is planning your round the world trip. There’s so much information out there that it can be overwhelming at times. We aim to give you the best information and ideas to make your planning that little bit easier. Heck it, we’ll even throw in a little inspiration too.
Planning a round the world trip may look complicated and scary, but it’s really not. We’ve tried to make it as simple for you as possible.
You can start planning your gap year by following these simple steps:
Work out how long and when
If you’re thinking of traveling for a year then you’ll be spending more time in each country than if you’ve only got two months. Also, it’s likely you’ll spend some of the time working or volunteering abroad – bonus!
On the flip side, if you’re thinking of traveling for a few months, you’ll be able to zoom from country to country, packing in as many activities as possible. If you’re traveling for a shorter period of time then when you go is quite important – you want to make sure you get the best from each country, especially the weather.
Decide where to go and what to do
This is the key stage. If you’re not sure about where to go, research the different options. Think hard about what you want to see, what you want to do and how long you need to do it. This all relates to how long you’ve got and how much you’ve got to spend, but it’s also about what sort of person you are, what your interests are and what you want to get from your round the world trip.
Do you want to meet loads of other backpackers and go partying or do you want to keep off the beaten track and be more of a culture vulture? Is wildlife and exploration your bag or would you rather spend most of your time in cities? Or maybe you just want a bit of everything.
Whatever the type of person you are, make sure you explore as much as you can. We’ve got fantastic advice, articles and guides on every page. A part of planning your trip is research after all.
How much can you spend?
Again, it’s obvious, but the more you’ve got to spend, the more places you can visit and the less you’ll have to worry about working for some of the time you’re away. Also, remember that some places are a lot cheaper than others. For example, a £1,500 may only last you a month in Australia compared to two months in Thailand. As a very rough budget (depending on the type of traveler you are) be looking to spending between £500 – £1,000 per month.
Book your ticket and start saving
Now you’ve booked your ticket it’s time to start saving, which is the most difficult bit of all. Good luck
While most people are concerned about remembering to pack everything or figuring out which attraction to visit on which day during their travels, cybersecurity is seldom a worry that vacationers take seriously. Even if you’ve never heard of anyone experiencing scammers and hackers severely impacting their trip, that doesn’t mean that you aren’t susceptible to their actions. There are a wide variety of ways scammers or hackers can lure or trick you into providing them with valuable information that can range from your airline points to credit card numberes. Here are a few tips to consider when it comes to protecting yourself against cyber criminals the next time you’re planning to travel:
Beware of vacation deals and coupons
The old adage of “if something sounds too good to be true, then it must be” relates to how most people intending on traveling get scammed or hacked. The easiest way to fall victim to travel-related frauds is by responding to emails, text messages or other forms of contact trying to coax you into booking a vacation, hotel or flight through their services. Jerry Irvine of the National Cyber Security Task Force spoke with alwayscheaprx.info on how getting too click-happy with your computer mouse can potentially lead to some major hacking problems.
“There’s a lot of targeted emails and texts that are going out right now that are coupons or travel-based,” Irvine said in an interview with alwayscheaprx.info. “Websites are showing pictures of facilities that are no longer available or just not even around. They’re taking money and then when people get there, there’s no reservation for it.”
Before you start clicking on links to rental homes or vacation packages that were sent to you via email, you should always do research beforehand. Type in the name of the company in question that’s contacting you along with the word “scam” next to it in a Google search, and see if anyone else has posted any complaints or flagged the company as a fraud. In the end, you should always go with your gut. If a website offering incredible deals looks suspicious or an emailed deal seems too good to believe, then ignore and delete it.
Consider a travel agent
While there are many ways travelers can go about booking or reserving whatever they need for a vacation, using a professional, trusted travel agent is always recommended for avoiding getting scammed. These people will only use reputable sources to help you plan out the trip of a lifetime, and it leaves less stress upon you when plotting out the details for a vacation.
Public Wi-Fi spots
When you’re trying to use the Internet during your vacation or business travels, always be aware of the network you’re connecting to when logging on the Internet. Any free or public networks that don’t require a security pin number or password to sign in should always be used with caution, especially when traveling out of the country. Hacking computers from people using public networks can be like catching fish in a barrel for hackers, so consider bringing your own Wi-Fi hotspots along with you or always use trusted sources, like your hotel’s Internet connection.
Change your passwords
After you’ve made any big purchases before or during your vacation, it’s never a bad idea to change your passwords as a simple means of being extra cautious. This should especially be considered if you haven’t changed passwords to your bank account, email address or other important sites you use that could have valuable personal information on them in quite some time. You should never have the same password for multiple accounts, as if hackers obtain one password, they’ll most likely try it out with other sites or services you use. The harder and more intricate your password is, the harder hackers will have to work to access it, so avoid using generic passwords like your birthday or a family member’s name.
“Sign up for card charge notifications with your bank.”
Set up notifications
Being in good communication with your bank is an easy and reassuring way to be aware of potential fraudulent charges. You can set up online or mobile bank alerts that can email or text you whenever your bank has identified a charge has been made on your credit or debit card. This way, once you see that your card has been charged for something you didn’t purchase, you can immediately notify your bank about the error or have the card canceled.
Avoid using technology
While this tip is certainly harder for most people than others, leaving your phone off at the hotel or your laptop unplugged at home is arguably the easiest way to avoid being hacked or scammed while traveling. If you need to carry your phone on you, be sure to turn your Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections off, or even keep the phone on airplane mode whenever you’re not using it.
We recommend travelers to take precautions, Internet-based fraud in those who Cottages Book aligned at home to avoid. Law available vacation homes in the Florida Keys licensing are listed on this page. Click here for useful information about how to detect and avoid possible fraudulent deals and other vacation rentals currently offered illegally.
The long chain of Miami to Key West tolls keys 120 miles to the mainland Florida by US 1 connected, the Overseas Highway. Visitors can fly into Ft Miami International Airport (MIA) or. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and from there you can get the key for the airport bus or rental car. Travelers can have an hour to the Keys, Miami to Key Largo; get the input or one hour and 45 minutes from Ft. Lauderdale.
Direct flights or connections to Key West International Airport are available in many cities. Please check with the airlines for the latest flight information and itinerary.
- Florida Turnpike: What you need to know
- Driving through the Sunshine State? It is probable that when going up or down or by the central pillar of the state, you will find the toll Florida.
- This is what you need to know about the toll Florida:
- What is the number of Florida?
Its 461 miles of Snorkeling in Key West highways that facilitate more efficient travel due to lower production and less traffic. It is operated by the toll road company, part of the Florida Department of Transportation. Here is a map.
Why pay a toll?
- The toll is largely paid by drivers who use them. Toll revenue operation to develop the maintenance and the toll system.
- When was the turnpike built?
- The first section of the Florida Turnpike opened in 1957.
- Why is it called Ronald Reagan Turnpike?
The line from Miami to Wildwood, north of Orlando which was appointed to the Ronald Reagan Turnpike in 1998 by the Florida Legislature in honor of the 40th President of the United States.
How much are the tolls?
They depend on the section of the toll road you are and how far you go, but the price per mile and the number of axles of the vehicle. Find a cool calculator here.
How do I pay tolls? Do I need money?
You may cash or Sun Pass to pay the prepaid toll program state, the toll updated about 25 percent and saves time in the tollbooth. If all electronic tolls are in fact, you can even Toll-by-Plate payment by where a camera takes a picture of your license plate and send you an invoice toll than $ 2.50 service charge.
Europe offers so many attractions for those who are visiting it. Well, for men, it would be getting more impressive if you can go around with a European girl. Well, even spending a romantic night is something possible that you can make during your time there. Selecting your type of girl is something that you can experience here. Well, all the things that you need to do is looking for the agency that provides the escort girl. Well, there are so many agencies that offer you so many beautifully European girls like your favorite one, but only one that you can trust.
If you are going to hire escorts Netherlands, then you can go to Adult Benelux since this is a professional agency that you can trust. Here, you can find girls that come from several countries of Europe, like Belgium, Netherlands, Italy and so on. Hence, you will find so many girls in which you can have a chance to get a girl that is close your type. This agency is like no other one that provides you wrong girl. There are many agencies in Europe that cheat on the clients by attaching the photo of girls that have nothing to do with it.
Well, it would be so disappointing if you have such experience. Hence, this is the only agency that you should rely on. Well, it will be so good if you have one that you like since you can just hire it through the website in advance. You can just send what you require and set the date and place to meet the girl. She will accompany you to spend all night long or follow you wherever you go. Hence, go hire the one that you like and you can spend your memorable time in Europe.
Are you a single? Are you unmarried in this time? Do you feel so alone and lonely during your days? Well, being a single is not a sin anyway. When you become a single, you do not need to be worried. Nowadays, there are many kinds of things that we can do if we want to have so many friends. We simply add some friends in the internet and we will be able to have a lot of friends. You can also have the deeper conversation with the people that you know from internet.
But somehow, not all of the things can be done with all of the friends. When you only have the limited time for spending the time with your friends, you need to manage the time for planning the time well. Moreover, when you feel so bored during your days, you do not need to be worried. As a single, there are many kinds of things that you can do well during your days.
When the time break comes, you can plan for the traveling time. Have you prepared where you want to go on traveling? Choosing the single traveling is not such a bad thing to choose. You can have the wonderful time to enjoy the holiday alone. You also will be able to explore the new city without worry also. When you visit Europe for instance, there are many kinds of new places that you have not visited yet. If you want to have the best time there with someone, you can contact Brussels call girls. They will be happy to accompany you during your time in any places in Belgium. You can explore the new places and you will not feel so bored during your days again. Well here we know that being single is not always bad.
Have you ever felt so stressful during your days? What do you do when you face this kind of condition? What is the cause of your stress? Commonly, we can get stuck with our job and it will lead us to the stressful condition. When we are in the stuck or in the stressful condition, we will not feel so comfortable in doing many kinds of activity. In this kind of condition, your body needs some rests and your minds need the refreshing. You have to know when the body and your minds need the rest so that you will not feel so hard in doing your job.
What do you do for the refreshing time? Well, it will depend on the condition also, right? When we can have the time for the holiday, we can go to traveling time. But at least for a year you need to go on vacation to refresh your mind. There are many kinds of places that you can visit depends on your budget and your time for the traveling also. You need to prepare everything well if you want to have the great time in traveling time.
If you have prepared the money for your traveling, why do not you plan to visit Bali, Singapore, and the other interesting destination for your traveling? You will feel so refresh when you really enjoy your holiday so much. Let’s decide where the destination of your holiday is! If you plan to visit Bali for instance, you need to choose the hotel where you are going to stay.
Have you found the right hotel in Bali? Nowadays, it will be such an easy way to do. You only need to click Mister Aladin and all of your needs are answered. You can find out the hotel based on your budget and your wish also. You can compare from one hotel to another hotel in the short time. You can also see the clear description about the hotel that you are going to choose. It is so easy by visiting Mister Aladin, the cheap hotel site. For the short time, you can decide everything including for the hotel that you are going to choose in Bali. So far, what are you waiting any longer? You will have the great preparation with the help of Mister Aladin. Now, prepare for your holiday well. Make sure that you prepare it well so that there will be no miss in your holiday preparation!
You expect distinctive experience while staying in New York, you should then use different approach in the way to make it comes true. Say that you want to have so much fun with beautiful girl that meets your fantasy, www.ny-realgirls.com/models will treat your wish as their command. They provide you with any girl that you want. It can be the one with naughty attitude or someone calmer. You need only to choose. Go to their gallery, since there you will be welcomed with pictures of girls that will be your companion in New York or somewhere else that you want.
You will get description about the girl. You spend the whole time or for certain amount of time with the girl. It will be a bit awkward if you no nothing about the girl like their personality and so on. Finish with choosing the girl that fits your criteria, you can continue with the services of your preference. If you want the girl to be your woman in business occasion, then it is okay. No need to feel anxious about they can’t act properly. They are professional and their arsenal is not only their face, they have an thing that you expect from high quality woman.
If you are New York visitor, you can ask them to accompany you to certain famous place to escort you. Exploring New York, moreover for your first time, it will be plain and lonely compared with being with beautiful girl that know everything about New York. Nevertheless, you are the one who decide. Just for your information before you make final decision, you can do the arrangement anytime you think you want to do it as it is opened for 24/7 and based solely on your own convenient. In case you are worry your personal data will be leaked, fear not, it will be protected.
When Scott Ford was laid off from his job in New York City back in 2008, he headed to JFK International Airport without thinking of anything other than getting on a plane to visit friends in sunny San Diego.
And when the Delta Airlines gate agent announced he needed a volunteer to be bumped from the flight because the plane was overbooked, Ford idly lifted his hand and accepted a voucher for a future flight.
“Suddenly, it clicked,” says Ford, a native of Dayton, Ohio, who now makes his home in Portland, Ore. “Since I was unemployed I had the free time and flexible schedule to travel as much as I wanted if I could find a way to afford it.”
As Ford accumulated travel vouchers and frequent flier miles by getting bumped from as many flights as possible, he developed a plan to spend every week of 2011 on vacation.
400 cities in 365 days
Ford started that year in San Diego, went on to San Francisco, and eventually flew 489,000 miles and — thanks in part to the ability to earn bonus miles on some flights — accumulated 1 million frequent flier miles.
He visited 400 cities in one year, including Tokyo, Honolulu, Mexico City, and Amsterdam, and ended the year of travel with a spectacular Christmas celebration in St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
“My first international trip was a $900 flight to Tokyo that I paid for entirely with vouchers,” says Ford, who has now been to Hawaii dozens of times. Costa Rica is another favorite destination; he has vacationed there five times.
His accumulated vouchers and frequent flier miles have allowed him to repeat his travel experiences this year. “2012 has been almost a carbon copy of 2011,” says Ford, who went on to become the founder of PackaBagandGo.com to share his tips.
The Currency of Free Travel
While vouchers for a free flight were once commonly given to passengers who had to be bumped for an overbooked flight, most airlines now hand out vouchers in specific dollar amounts — typically $200 to $800, says Ford, depending on the length of the delay.
“Always negotiate the amount of the voucher,” says Ford, “and emphasize your frequent flier status to make them more willing to negotiate.” Vouchers can be used to pay for more than just future flights — they’re exchangeable for hotel rooms at major chains and for vacation packages, too.
Vouchers typically expire within one year. Ford says the rules vary by airline and sometimes by flight as to whether you can combine vouchers or will only be allowed to use one per trip. In addition to vouchers for future travel, an airline may provide vouchers for meals or a hotel stay while you’re waiting for the next available flight after being bumped.
10 Tips for Snagging Travel Vouchers
While not every traveler has the time and flexibility to voluntarily miss a flight, Ford’s experiences offer a blueprint that some fliers can use to garner some of their own free travel. Ford’s suggestions include:
- Stick with one airline. Ford says that if you want to accumulate vouchers and frequent flier miles, it’s much better to build them up with a single airline. You can also leverage your loyalty to the airline for extra perks and upgrades.
- Travel at peak times. Your likelihood of getting bumped increases when you travel when everyone else does, such as Friday and Sunday evenings or around holidays.
- Book multistop flights. Ford books as many connections as possible to increase the chances of being bumped on one or more sections of the trip.
- Look for full loads. Before you book any flight, check the seat map to see how many empty seats are available or call the airline to find out if a flight is nearly full. Book your ticket on the flight that has very few seats left.
- Be flexible. If you can’t always be flexible and offer to miss a flight, try to add some extra time to the beginning or end of each business trip or vacation when a few extra hours at the airport won’t matter.
- Volunteer. Ask the gate attendant as soon as you arrive if the flight is full and let that person know you’re willing to be bumped if they need someone.
- Arrive early. If you’re at the gate early, you’ll have time to tell the gate attendant and the person at the check-in counter that you’re available to be bumped.
- Learn the lingo. Ask the gate attendant if there will be a “weight imbalance” on your flight. Instead of dumping too-heavy bags, the airline will sometimes reduce the plane’s weight by bumping one or two passengers, says Ford.
- Pack light. If you do get bumped, it’s much easier if you only have a carry-on bag rather than having your luggage pulled from the flight. Alternatively, pack belongings for one night and meet up with your bag later.
- Be nice. Always be calm and polite with the gate attendants so you’re the one picked if there are several volunteers.
Thanksgiving is a great time of year to try out Ford’s strategies. “So many people are traveling and flights are often overbooked,” he says. “At this time of year you also have weather issues that can cause flights to be canceled, which then means other flights are overbooked.”
Ford says a family of four can turn their Thanksgiving family visit to the Midwest into their spring break trip by volunteering to be bumped.
“Build some flexibility into your trip at the beginning and the end and offer to give up your seats on a crowded flight,” Ford says. “Chances are high at that time of year that you’ll end up with vouchers to pay for a Florida vacation in 2013.”
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Selecting independent callgirl is more personal, and it can be more beneficial especially related to cost for paying her time. Even though it looks advantageous, it is actually not that simple. It is worth to know that the callgirl can have more evil intention rather in addition to providing satisfying performance. The callgirl may take some possession, ID card, and some other important belongings when the client is not aware. This situation actually happens to some people, but is hidden because using callgirl service is prohibited by norms clients believe. Considering the best callgirl Holland who will not do such evil deeds, it is better to take a look at professional agency.
Experienced in more than years for providing special clients, callgirl Holland agencies are ready to provide a great range of beautiful and smart girls. It is definitely very useful for those who really need companion even though it is only a couple of hours. Most companies give excellent service for both clients and call girls, and that means everyone is protected and happy. Surely there is a chance of being scammed by such agency. However, it is considerably rare compared to using independent callgirl service.
Booking a vacation should be an enjoyable experience, yet it often turns into an overwhelming one. Deciding which of the innumerable websites to use to plan your travels can leave your head spinning, not to mention attempting to pin down the right location, resort and activities for your needs and lifestyle. And not being familiar with the region you are researching can make this task even more daunting.
As working travel agents, we’ve assembled a list of the top five reasons to book your next vacation with a professional:
We are your travel advocate.
An agent has your best interests in mind and is adept at pairing you with the most suitable destination and resort. We will do some serious listening when it comes to your wish list, allowing us to fully understand your unique vision of a perfect getaway. From the moment you begin the travel discussion until you return home, we will serve as your champion. We are there to walk you through any questions or issues that may arise, even while you are traveling.
We know what you don’t know.
A well-informed agent is an expert on all things travel. We travel extensively and know the destinations, the hotels, the activities and most importantly, the right people. We have forged beneficial relationships with hoteliers and other pertinent travel executives so we can ensure top-level service throughout your vacation.
We want you to have an experience, not just a trip.
Trips are for amateurs. A professional travel agent wants you to have an amazing experience from start to finish. Our services go beyond booking a plane ticket and making a hotel reservation, i.e., what the run-of-the-mill travel website does. Whether it’s a private limo airport pickup, fresh flowers in your suite or your family’s favorite fresh-baked cookies awaiting you at check-in, we anticipate details large and small that will make your vacation truly memorable.
We serve as an impartial voice in a sea of online reviews.
Online reviews can act as a quick reality check on a hotel or resort but they are also a slippery slope. The reviewer could actually be a hotel employee and the accompanying photographs might be heavily Photoshopped. Good travel agents offer unbiased critiques of destinations and resorts that they have personally visited. We’ve slept in the beds, eaten the food and participated in the activities. We will not play favorites and steer you in the wrong direction.
We are not your parents’ travel agents.
Today’s professionals represent a new breed of travel advisor with a completely different take on vacation planning. Utilizing our extensive knowledge of the industry, firsthand experiences and relationships with travel insiders, we sift through the Internet fluff to bring you the foremost travel options tailored to your likes and dislikes.
Travelers who use third-party booking sites to make airline reservations may think they’re getting a deal. But if they ever need to cancel or modify the reservation, rebook when a flight is canceled, or deal with any glitches that are even a little bit unusual, they’re liable to find a fix time-consuming and costly. Consider these stories:
- Jennifer Dombrowski booked a vacation to Egypt through Expedia.com. Shortly before the trip, they were notified that her husband, active duty in the Air Force, was being deployed to Afghanistan. “I contacted Expedia multiple times and talked to everyone from the customer service call center up to emailing executive level management about changing the dates on our tickets,” she said. “Expedia kept pushing me to the airline, Alitalia, saying they couldn’t help. Alitalia also wouldn’t change the dates, and we lost over $1,000 for the tickets.” Dombrowksi booked with Expedia again a year later, only to arrive at the airport and discover her reservation had been canceled.
- Philip J. Ross, co-founder of Iberian Traveler and Maribel’s Guides, says he had clients who booked through a third-party site, only to learn upon arriving at the airport that their reservations had vanished. “They ended up having to paid full fare at the airport and fly business class. It took months for them to get their money back from Expedia (EXPE), and than only happened because one of them was the daughter of a prominent congressman from Hawaii.”
- Jacquie Whitt of Adios Adventure Travel was stranded when traveling on American Airlines (AAL) with tickets booked through Cheapo Air. While taking a group of high school students to Peru, the group was held up when one student with a hyphenated name had a misprint between his ticket and his passport. The American agents wouldn’t let him fly. “We spent over two hours struggling and never did connect with anyone at Cheapo Air who could help us,” she said, remembering the frustration clearly. “It was a simple mistake that would have been fixed right away if we had booked directly with the airline.” Ultimately, the American agent allowed the student to fly, but as a result of the experience, Whitt says, “I do not buy tickets on third-party sites anymore.”
Even aggregators like Kayak.com and Momondo aren’t safe bets, as they can redirect clients to small, international travel agents that operate without regulatory oversight. Marion Goldberg, the former U.S. representative for Momondo and current principal of GoldbergOnTravel, said aggregators and online travel agencies should be merely a starting point.
“Most airlines offer their best deals directly through their websites and don’t publish them anywhere else. So start a search on a site like Momondo, and then go down the rabbit hole through the different small agencies. But when it comes to booking, it should always be done through the airline itself,” she said. “If you must use a third-party site to book, only use an online travel agency if it’s based in Canada or the U.S. Otherwise, it might not be regulated, and if you run into problems, you don’t have any recourse.”
“We no longer recommend our clients book any reservations through third-party websites,” Ross said, “simply because of the fact that what they are selling may not actually be there.”
Often, the best way to avoid a rip-off is to know what others are paying for things. What did the guy sitting next to me on the plane pay for his ticket? How much did the neighbor pay for his kid’s wedding? That emergency dental procedure? The water pump replacement on her late-model foreign car?
Retailers use big data to maximize revenue — that is, to take as much of your money as they can. Why shouldn’t you have the same power?
Increasingly, websites and apps are giving consumers access to incredibly detailed aggregate price information, holding out the promise that the scales of bargaining power might tip back their way. There are now hundreds of online tools — most of them unbiased and data driven — that tell consumers the prices others have paid for everything from flowers to bathroom renovations. Enter a ZIP code, select a few criteria and faster than a shopkeeper can say, “High profit margin,” you can say, “Not so fast!”
The price calculators — many are called “cost estimators” — are fun to play with, but they pack a real punch. None of these tools will prevent a bait-and-switch estimate, or keep you from getting nickel-and-dimed. But they do something just as important: They give you a reference point (what economists call an anchor) so you always know you are in the right ballpark, if not sitting in the right seat, when paying for something.
I’ll divide the tools into three categories: Regret tools, bargaining tools and anxiety tools. Let me explain.
Data are always backward looking, and as we all know, the past is no guarantee of future performance. So it is with prices others paid. This is most obvious in airline tickets, where knowing your friend got a good deal on a flight to Ireland last week is almost useless as a predictor of your price, other than the near certainty that you will pay more.
Still, longer trends offer some insights, and that’s what I love about FlightAware’s beta product, “Insight for Airlines.” FlightAware is known for giving passengers and their loved ones up-to-the-moment geographic and speed data on planes in the air.
But click around, and you’ll find the Insight product, which tells users the median price paid for tickets on that route, by airline, during a 12-month period. It also includes the maximum and minimum prices for that route. If you’re on the plane, you’ll either feel smart or stupid, based on what you paid.
Flightaware’s director of software development, Jeffrey Lawson, notes that the data tool comes with a long list of qualifiers. For starters, the data, which are acquired from the airline industry, is about two years old. Second, it’s not fair to compare cost of a ticket purchased the day before a flight with a ticket purchased 11 months prior to the trip. It’s not even fair to compare a February ticket to a May ticket.
But, if you fly a route frequently — say, Seattle to New York — you get a good idea if you are overpaying regularly. Insight also makes it easy to compare airlines, which is particularly useful.
For example, on a Seattle to Newark run, United carries the most passengers, but Alaska charges about 10 percent less. Scheduling concerns aside, it sure looks like some of those United passengers should consider Alaska.
Lawson, by the way, says FlightAware is considering an update to the product, which would be a boon to travelers. But since you can’t use the FlightAware’s data to bargain for lower fares, it’s mostly a “regret tool,” as in, “Wow, I’m kind of a sucker for paying that much.”
I’d put wedding cost calculators into the same category. One of the best I found is at CostOfWedding.com. It allows lovebirds to enter all kinds of specifics, such as what kind of table gifts they expect to buy, and how fancy the reception food will be.
Still, weddings involve so many details and decisions that wedding calculators are really only useful for after-the-fact comparisons. For example, CostOfWedding.com says a 75-person affair in suburban Washington should cost $21,700. That won’t save you money if you are planning an event there, but it probably will make you feel good or bad if you’ve done so recently.
Another regret tool is the “Location Affordability Portal,” released in the past week by the U.S. Department of Transportation. It’s supposed to help homebuyers more accurately predict the real costs of moving by adding in transportation costs — in other words, that “drive until you qualify” home in the exurbs might not be as much of a bargain as it seems, once you add in the price of gas.
The tool is very hard to use, however, and requires a lot of specialized inputs from users. At the moment, it’s more useful to inspire “what might have been” daydreaming.
Calculators that predict near-term costs are far more practical. Most of us have no idea what installation of a home electric circuit panel should cost, so plugging your ZIP code and your preferences into a tool before getting bids is incredibly useful. Use it to throw out a bidder who’s asking for the moon. I like both HomeAdvisor and Homewyse.com. (In Columbia, Mo., upgrading a panel costs $866-$1,224, Homewyse says.)
RedBeacon.com offers an even wider range of cost calculators for home services like landscaping or housecleaning.
The most useful estimator I found unmasks the mystery of the costs of auto repairs, offered by RepairPal.com. Not only does RepairPal offer ZIP-code level pricing — a water pump replacement should cost between $263 and $368 in north-suburban Seattle — it also offers additional necessary information, like this: Water pump repairs often require belt replacement, particularly if fluid leaked on the belts.
Getting a repair cost estimate takes only a moment, and it can save you hundreds at a repair shop.
“We have had consumers tell us that, after they showed a RepairPal estimate, a shop lowered their price,” said Bret Bodas, director of RepairPal’s automotive professional group. Not surprisingly, auto mechanics weren’t thrilled about the tool when it was first made public several years ago.
But Bodas says fair pricing information helps honest mechanics, and the industry has slowly warmed to the idea of transparency. Napa Auto Parts actually licenses data from RepairPal for its own tool now.
With both home and auto repairs, the data behind the calculator come mostly from cost estimation tools already used by contractors and repair shops. For example, automakers publish a list of labor times required for various repair jobs. Shops use those for estimates; RepairPal uses the same data, then adjusts for labor rates by ZIP codes, Bodas said.
Naturally, consumers with broken-down cars aren’t always in a great bargaining position. Still, RepairPal can make sure you aren’t being taken for a ride, and it can even suggest you might be better off paying to have a vehicle towed to another shop for a second opinion, if the first shop’s quote price is wildly off the mark.
Sick consumers have even less bargaining power; for that reason, health care cost calculators like the helpful one you’ll find at FairHealthConsumer.org almost qualify as regret tools. Still, it’s worth knowing what medical procedures should cost before having those conversations with your insurance company and your doctor’s office.
And there are times when knowing you overpaid the dentist for your last crown gives you the power to pick a new dentist, so we’ll call this a bargaining tool. And it’s sometimes possible to negotiate price after the fact with providers; price comparison tools are useful in those discussions.
By the same logic, the various taxi price calculators are also helpful in real time. No, you can’t get a cab driver to negotiate a metered trip. But before visiting any new city, it’s worth visiting a site like TaxiFareFinder.com and plugging in various trips you expect to take. You’ll get a map of your route and an expected cost, so you’ll know if your driver makes an unexpected wrong turn, and you can demand an adjustment.
Predicting long-term future costs is fraught with peril; still, it’s a good idea to know what you will be up against in 2020 so you can plan for the future. Before clicking on any of these sites, however, you might want to pour a nice cup of hot tea. They are likely to make your blood pressure rise.
There’s plenty of tools for calculating the cost of children, in the near and far future. Let’s start small, like they do. Uncle Sam offers his own tool at USDA.gov, where the first-year cost of a kid in the Northeast is pegged at about $14,000.
Look further into the future, and you may think twice about having a baby. Or at least about training that baby to be a scholarship athlete. BabyCenter.com thinks a child born in the Northeast today will cost $400,000 if she or he attends a private college.
If you dial up cost of college calculators, you will conclude that the BabyCenter number is low. At CollegeSavings.org, you’ll get an even starker splash of reality. Assume 5 percent tuition inflation — and why not, that’s how much colleges raise tuition each year at the moment — at a four-year private school will cost $316,000 by the time today’s babies graduate. (That’s just tuition — with room and board, the cost is $430,000!)
Speaking of anxiety, you’ll find hundreds of tools on investment sites offering to guesstimate how much money you will have, or will need, at retirement. Among the assumptions you’ll see: average 12 percent market returns, spending levels remain at 80 percent after retirement, etc. You’re already anxious enough.
Fortunately, here’s one piece of pretty solid math. Every dollar you save today will be worth roughly $16 in about 30 years, if it’s saved well. So the best way to ease your anxiety about all those big future costs is to use big data now to save money, and avoid getting ripped off.