Newspaper article International New York Times

Tips to Maximize Vacation, but Not the Cost

Newspaper article International New York Times

Tips to Maximize Vacation, but Not the Cost

Article excerpt

To save money on travel, set your nonnegotiable standards, then minimize costs and maximize value.

Break a resolution yet?

If any were travel-related, here's some good news: In 2014, you can save while being true to yourself.

In other words, set your nonnegotiable standards, then minimize costs and maximize value. So if you can't bring yourself to share a room with a stranger, concentrate on lowering costs on hotel stays rather than hostels.

Here are issues about which budget travelers of good faith can differ, along with some tips on cutting costs no matter which side of the debate you're on.

A ROOM OF ONE'S OWN? Despite shared lodging sites like Airbnb, hostels are the mainstay for backpacker types. Many people use the booking sites Hostelbookers.com or Hostelworld.com, but it's also worth getting to know Hostelz.com, a search aggregator, not unlike Kayak. You'll get to compare prices for Hostelbookers and Hostelworld (as well as the Eurocentric site HostelsClub). But even better, the site also shows ratings from all the sites, as well as lengthier reviews Hostelz pays travelers to write.

For those who need privacy, don't write off Airbnb; you can set filters to show you only private rooms or even entire houses. And despite the name, I've found that many Couchsurfing hosts (although not me) offer spare bedrooms.

If you really want to stick with hotels, there are ever more ways to save. Two new sites monitor hotel prices after you reserve in case prices go down: TripRebel simply refunds you the difference, and TripBAM alerts you if the price drops in the same or nearby hotels and offers to rebook your reservation. TheSuitest uses hotel features and amenities to calculate a room's value relative to its price.

CONNECTING THE STOPS On a flight from New York to Sao Paulo this year, I sat next to a guy headed to Buenos Aires who had long layovers in Sao Paulo and Montevideo, lengthening a 10-hour trip to more than 24 hours. …

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