ABC7 On Your Side: The Savvy Vacation

May 18, 2009 While there have been some signs of economic recovery, it hasn't lessened the anxiety for many Americans worried about their finances. But it is a buyers market for those looking to get away. And now more than ever, there are ways to vacation on a budget.

The Gregory's are ready for a vacation with two active girls and both parents working.

"We're not together the four of us that often because of our busy schedules with work and having the two kids it's important for us to go on those vacations and be together," said Wendy Gregory, prospective traveler.

Now it seems is a good time to plan travel.

"A great time to be getting travel bargains. We haven't seen deals like this since post 9-11," said Lori Rackly, travel editor of the Sun-Times.

Rackl says cruises, airlines and hotels are all offering great discounts, even better if you go local.

"Call up the local hotel number not the 1-800 number ask to speak to a manager and just say, hey, I found this deal on the internet what can you do to sweeten the deal a little bit and I'd be surprised if you didn't get at least an upgrade out of it," said Rackl.

Americans are traveling, but being cautious with spending. As a result travel companies are aggressively competing for your vacation dollars.

Some examples of deals being offered are:

- an oceanfront studio at the Aston Mahana in Maui for 179/ni and kids stay free
- Four Star Luxor Hotel In Las Vegas 70/night
- 7 day Island Princess Cruise to Alaska 449/person
- Chicago to Ireland with Sceptre Tours /6 Nights Hotel, Airfare and a rental car $539 a person

The online travel company Orbitz has is seeing three times as many promotions to attract travelers than last year. The Orbitz' spokeswoman says hotels are offering extra nights free and other perks.

"A $50 spa credit at the Trump Hotel Las Vegas to free parking or free internet service at a hotel in Chicago all of these value ads that can really save you money when you're on vacation," said Jeanenne Tornatore, Orbitz.

Experts say the best deals come from packages.

Vacation packages of air and hotel together offer deeper discounts because companies are willing to cut prices when their discounts are not listed but hidden in the package cost.

Travelers with flexible travel dates find better deals especially traveling on days other than Friday or Sunday. Midweek is the best.

Vacation rental homes and condos are also offering deals. Those accommodations may offer more room to those traveling in groups.

"Traveling with multiple generations or expanded families a vacation rental may make a lot of sense in these cases 'cause you can get a vacation rental six or eight bedrooms and it can be really economical if you can fill all those rooms," said Kendra Thornton, travel expert.

Travel expert Kendra Thornton says vacation rentals work well for families.

"You have a lot of privacy in a lot of cases you have your own swimming pool you have your own kitchen you can prepare your own meals you have a place to congregate," said Thornton.

It seems the the Gregory girls will be happy anywhere there's a pool and a certain Disney character.

But mom hopes to find all of that at the right price this season.

Deals mentioned:

AN OCEANFRONT STUDIO AT THE ASTON MAHANA IN MAUI FOR 179/NI AND KIDS STAY FREE. Travel Expert Kendra Thornton recommends: The Aston Manana kids stay free program 888-311-5050. Ask for code 5050 at the Mahana at Kaanapali.

FOUR STAR LUXOR HOTEL IN LAS VEGAS 70/NI Discounted luxury hotels in Las Vegas from Trump International Hotel (5-Stars), from $110 night Planet Hollywood (4-Stars), from $129 night MGM Grand (4-Stars), from $123 night


Cruise deals from Sun-Times travel editor:

7-day "Glaciers of Alaska" cruise on the Island Princess is starting at $449 a person for July 13 departure.

12-day "Grand Mediterranean" cruise on the new Ruby Princess is starting at $1,199 for Aug. 20 departure.

On the five-star Yachts of Seabourn cruise line, a week-long cruise between Barcelona and Monte Carlo is going for $2,499 a person on Oct. 10. (That same cruise was selling for $4,275 last year.)


From the Sun-Times travel editor: Sceptre Tours website, or call 800-221-0924.

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