You may be thinking about planning a trip to a warm, sunny island for the middle of the dreary winter ahead, but you can save big bucks and perhaps have a much more interesting adventure if you consider a not-so-hot-spot as your final destination.
According to Judi Silverman, a Mountainside resident and independent travel consultant with over 25 years experience in the travel industry, traveling against the rest of the flock can greatly reduce the cost of travel -- especially if you and your family are limited to peak travel periods.
Silverman is chock full of insights and tips to help the average and not-so-average traveler get the greatest value for his or her investment.
Though many of Silverman’s clients who hail from around the United States have hefty travel budgets and are very particular about what they want and where they want to go, she also offers tips for those who are on a limited budget.
“Without a doubt, if you want to be on a beach during Christmas or mid-winter break, you are going to pay top dollar. So you might want to consider taking the family to London or France or maybe even California,” said Silverman.
She said while you may not be guaranteed beach weather and the opportunity to swim, you are likely to have more options for enriching cultural experiences and the airfare to cooler destinations is a lot more palatable for a family on a budget.
“I personally love spending January and February in California. I love the variety of places we can visit and terrains to cover. I have no interest in just sitting on a beach,” said Silverman.
She said even visiting Italy during the winter months may not promise warm and sunny weather, but has a special charm of its own.
"You may not find yourself baking in the sun, but you could enjoy a delightful villa with a roaring fire."
Agent or Online Booking Services?
While she believes that online travel services have their place, she said nothing can take the place of a well-traveled and experienced consultant who has long established relationships in the industry.
“Whether you are traveling within the country or abroad, you need to find someone who you can trust and has your best interests at heart,” said Silverman.
She said many people find themselves disappointed when they don’t use an agent to book a trip and show up at the destination and are surprised to find that the hotel is going through a renovation or there is major construction going on next door.
She said, “When travelers are surprised by circumstances that are not disclosed in a Web site transaction, they are often out of luck. It’s a case of buyer-beware.”
“The world of travel is not an easy place to navigate, you really need an advocate,” said Silverman who has traveled to Italy 27 times during her career and knows the country like the back of her boot – or hand.
She said by booking through an agent, often times you can get some great additions and amenities that would never have been available if you booked directly by the traveler.
She said she is often able to negotiate extras for her travelers such as spa treatments and golf course admission.
And there are little things that one can do to cut down on the expense of travel.
For instance, picking up a rental car at a location other than the airport can often save $150 within the United States and hundreds of dollars when traveling abroad.
Silverman said when it comes to saving on travel, you have to lose the herd mentality.
During the winter months, she would rather be taking day trips to the dessert and the mountains in California or enjoying the cultural scene in Los Angeles or San Diego rather than sitting stationary in the sun.
And let’s face it, if you want to stay fabulous for a long time, you probably want to avoid the sun anyway – or at very least, where a big hat.
Judi Silverman is an independent travel consultant affiliated with World Travel/Tzell Group in Livingston, NJ. She can be reached at: (908) 789-1630 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org