Planning a Vacation? Here’s some tips on how

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Considering taking a cruise? Beware of the teaser ads for as little as $495 for a one-week vacation. These inside cabins have no windows and are smaller than other accommodations. Even if you are not claustrophobic, mal de mer is likely to occur. It pays to shop for specials.
Frequently, a last-minute reservation will produce lower prices. A travel agent is a good source for a best buy. Remember, the cruise line will be billing you automatically for tips on the boat. This is not included in the published price.

Always make hotel reservations directly with the hotel and not through Expedia, Travelocity etc. Use these websites to view the selection of available accommodations, then call, or have your travel agent call the hotel directly. Why? Frequently, the hotel will have lower rates not available at the central reservation desk.

Relatively unknown is the fact that if your reservation is made through a third party i.e. Expedia, and you arrive at your destination and there are problems, the hotel will not refund or make adjustments to your reservation. Remember to check to see if they have free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast and shuttle service from the airport if these are important to you. Include beach towels if you are going to a beach. Big dollar savings here! Whether you are an AARP or AAA member or senior citizen, the hotel special prices are the same for all three.

Traveling by air? Luggage fees and priority seating are the latest cost items to be aware of. Priority seating for a fee of $25/ticket, provides you with early boarding and seating at the front of the main cabin. This seating has more leg room. Some credit cards provide for a free checked bag in addition to a carry-on weighing less than 22 pounds. Usually, no charge for business/first class flyers!

When is it best to use a travel agent? Anytime! Generally speaking, the cost of an agent does not cost the traveler any more than a do-it-yourself effort. However, you may get additional satisfaction by investigating all the options for yourself.

Need to rent a car? The primary cost consideration to be aware of is that airport rentals ALWAYS cost more than in-town pickups. Travel consultants recommend against purchasing fill-up offers at the car agency, as that rate will be higher than you will find away from the car return location.
Going out of the country? Particularly to the Caribbean, an all-inclusive resort may be just what you want. They are somewhat limiting for sight-seers. One does not see much of the country they are visiting. However your costs are fixed, which can be a plus. The Dominican Republic is one of the most popular islands to visit, but it is a third-world country and all-inclusives are particularly attractive from a safety standpoint.

How about travel insurance? This is very much an individual choice. A policy usually costs about 5-10 percent of a trip and includes valuable medical coverage, lost baggage and trip delay payments.
Editor’s note: Malcolm McKnight writes on places of travel interest from his home in Cambridge.

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