Love to travel but don’t have the thousands of dollars to do it?

You can get luxury travel on a shoestring budget by planning your vacation or trip just a bit more carefully.
Read a few of these tips, and then go on your well-deserved getaway without burning a hole in your pocket.

Always remember: When planning your trip, timing is key.

For example, school vacation weeks are the worst times to plan trips. Most parents have no choice but to travel at these high-peak seasons, so school vacation periods in any country are always going to be crowded. The airfare is always sky high – no pun intended.

If you’ve traveled during these peak seasons, you may noticed that coach seats during a school vacation week could cost you more money than a first class ticket during the off-season. So remember, unless you MUST travel during these peak periods, avoid winter and spring breaks at all costs.

Here’s another important tip: Regardless of how you decide to book your luxury travel arrangements – either through a travel agent or through an online travel website – make sure that you know exactly who you are working with. For example, your best bet to save on a hotel and car rental package is probably going to be with Priceline.com’s “name your own price” option. However, Priceline.com is not the best choice for international airline travel. You’d be better off with an agent. Either way you go, try to use the same travel agent or service. This makes sure that you build a solid relationship with the company you’re dealing with. If you are loyal to them, they will be loyal to you. Always remember, they want your business.

Think about how frequent flier programs work: if you choose their airline consistently, they’ll reward you by giving you a free flight. Granted, you’ll need to do a lot of flying if you’re just going to earn points sitting on a plane, but with a little research, you’ll find ways to make loyalty programs work in your favor. When booking online or with an agent, make sure you always ask questions. You will never get anywhere from being silent.

If for some reason the company you’re working with makes an error, be sure to take advantage of it. Most companies want to keep up a high level of customer satisfaction, and they rely on their guests to provide them with information on how to achieve that. See if they could possibly upgrade an aspect of your trip. Your coach tickets could turn into first class, or maybe your suite could turn into a deluxe version. Don’t be scared to ask for upgrades. If they say no, then you’re no worse off than before. Your criticism will ensure that yourself (and other travelers) will have a satisfactory luxury vacation.

When you’re looking your vacation online, you should search travel review sites for agents or an agencies who have shown they willing to work with unhappy customers, an have proven that they excel at customer service. Many times, customer service representatives get aggravated with customers who complain, or the service reps are based in a foreign country and can only read from a script. And you probably already know that scripts don’t cover every possible customer service issue that a traveler may encounter.

You’ll find just about any travel service rated on a review site somewhere. Just keep in mind that people like to complain about bad experiences, so you’ll find many more complaints than good reviews for even the most well-known travel services. So take the complaints with a grain of salt. Look for the most commonly re-occurring complaints (like bad customer service). Most bad experiences are not usually the fault of the service. Rather the experience occurred because of the traveler’s misunderstanding of the travel site policies.

* * * Read your travel site’s terms and conditions BEFORE you book reservations * * *

You want to consider all aspects of your deal; not just the price tag. Quality wins over quantity in some cases. You find a rate online offering a room at $20.00 a night. It may sound appealing, right? Maybe you’re taking your family to Disney World and you figured you just need someplace to rest your head at night. But when you check-in, that’s when you discover the bathroom is shared with everyone on the floor, there’s police tape strung across the the door to the room next to yours, and you see prostitutes wandering in the parking lot. Maybe this deal WAS too good to be true.

Do your research. There’s plenty of information available to educate yourself on discounted travel mastery. Most of it is available for free; some of it you may have to pay for if you don’t want to do the research. Go to travel websites and forums specific to the type of trip you’re planning to take: Cruise, adventure tour, etc. If you are itching to take a trip that you don’t want to pay full price for, and you opt to pay for money-saving travel information online, I’d recommend that you only consider offers that give you a 100% money-back guarantee. If you don’t get great money-saving travel tips, at least you can get your money back.