Save on air fare; splurge on cruises

Travel guide writers Arthur and Pauline Frommer give tips on how to save money and what’s worth splurging on, at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show.

The  industry experts told a standing-room-only crowd of about  175 how travelers can save money on air fares, car rentals, meals, hotels and tours. The savings can be used on air fares, which will continue to rise with climbing gas prices, and cruises.

Here are some of their tips:

Air fares
Airlines set sale prices on Monday nights, so book on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Never book more than four months in advance – you’ll pay full price.

If you want to upgrade to business or first class, check for discounts 24 hours before your flight and the day of the flight. 
For the best fares, check and

Car rentals
Check for local no-frills rental agencies and for savings from the major companies. 

If you want to splurge on food, do it for lunch: same menu for 30 percent less han dinner.

Choose food over the view.

Avoid coupons – the usually lead you to less-desirable restaurants.

“Never, never, never ask a concierge to recommend a restaurant,” Pauline says. “… Look at a guidebook, check or ask someone who looks like you.”

“A budget hotel can provide just as good a night’s sleep as a luxury hotel,” Arthur says.

The strongest trend in the industry is substituting apartment and home rentals for hotels. Check,, and

Home swaps eliminate te cost of housing.  Philadelphia is a desirable destination for foreign travelers – from Australia, Germany, Paris.

Nothing can beat exploring on your own two feet, Arthur says.
Walking tours led by graduate students can provide valuable info and insights, Pauline says.

Check the sights offered with City Pass programs – often the main attractions are free and the offered spots are less-desirable ones.

The father and daughter disagree on this kind of vacation. Arthur says scrimping on a cruise is a major error. He recommends avoiding bargain cruises on ships that have become amusement parks.

Pauline says that as a mother of a 7-year-old daughter, “after camping in a National Park, there’s no vacation as cost effective as cruising.”

Onboard extras can boost the cost by 25 percent to 75 percent, so budget for (and avoid) them, she adds.