Adventures in the New Year; save money, extend your travel plans

Save money, get creative and extend your travel plans in 2020

For most, the start of a New Year is a time to reflect, and to plan special travel destinations for the coming year. Have you set your travel goals and plotted when and where you hope to go? Have you yet begun your new year’s travels? If not, why not? Let’s consider some options to get you going, and, to stretch your travel budget.

Start by traveling to special places close to home with a day trip. Nearby options include shows or classic movies at the historic Fox California/Bob Hope Theatre, visiting a favorite or new restaurant during Stockton Restaurant Week (January 17-26), a Stockton Heat hockey game, Stockton Kings basketball, cultural and sporting events at University of Pacific or San Joaquin Delta College, exhibits and art at the Haggin Museum or special events and agricultural history at the San Joaquin Historical Museum. VisitStockton.com and The Record are your resources for all the activities in greater Stockton and cool places to visit!

The venerable Fox California/Bob Hope Theatre in downtown Stockton presents a variety of shows and a monthly classic movie; go to visitstockton.com for updates.

For travel adventure a bit further from home, start by traveling to special places just a few hours away on day trips, or plan an overnight road trip. Consider that, just 2-3 hours away are the Bay Area, central and northern California coasts, Napa and Sonoma Valleys, metro Sacramento, Sierra foothills and Gold Rush history, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Sequoia, and Pinnacles National Parks and more. What’s stopping you from a long day trip or overnight road-trip?

Point Arena Lighthouse and rugger California coast, just three hours away.

Prior planning allows grouping nearby destinations into one trip (i.e., in northern California, combine a trip to Redwoods National and State Parks with the northern coast; or visit the Mt. Shasta Area and Crater Lake National Park in one trip. Similarly, if you have the time combine a trip to Utah’s stunning five national parks and a side trip to the north rim of the Grand Canyon – all in one 10 day or two week journey.

Bryce Canyon Natural Bridge is just 700 miles from Stockton, and the other four Utah national parks are nearby.

For extending your travel dollars, choose the less expensive alternative of several good choices:

For your traveling vehicle, choose fuel efficiency; for those using travel trailers, smaller is usually better. Today’s small trailers, like Cassita, T@B, R-pods and the like can sleep four comfortably, and are small enough to fit into the tightest of trailer spots in national parks and forests. Do you really need all that space in a huge fifth wheel or 30+ foot travel trailer, pulled by a giant pick-up averaging 8-10 miles per gallon? We travel with a 13 foot classic Scotty trailer, pulled by a four-cylinder Ford Escape, and get 20 miles per gallon.

A vintage, 13 foot Scotty trailer will sleep 2 to 4 in classy comfort.

Staying in motels? Book last minute using Priceline or similar booking choices. We typically book, online, mid-day the day of our arrival in many cities – always finding a price near 50% off regular pricing and never, yet, being left without a good motel room. Take advantage of friends and relatives (most people have a guest bedroom for that purpose).

If you’re spending a week or several weeks in an exotic destination, look at VRBO.com or Airbnb.com. As example, two years ago, spending a week on both Kauai and the Big Island, we found two oceanfront condominiums, wonderfully appointed, for an average of $105 per night. A nice hotel would’ve been double that, or more. Similarly, schedule your trips during the off-peak season, where lodging and restaurants often have reduced pricing and crowds won’t ruin your vacation time.

The backyard of the lovely home we house-sat in Tucson; 2.5 weeks of luxury, with two dogs to watch over. House sitting is a side benefit to Affordable Travel Club membership.

Take advantage of discounts: AAA, AARP and other travel club discounts will save you money on many purchases. If you’re a veteran, many places offer 10% discounts; ask! Seniors, typically age 62 and older, gain additional discounts. Get the federal senior pass – our America the Beautiful pass gets us into hundreds of national parks, monuments and federal facilities free of charge, and saves us half price on campgrounds across the nation. In six years of extensive traveling, we’ve saved over $4000!

The federal America the Beautiful senior pass, for those 62 and up, costs $80 (it’s good for life) and allows free entry to national parks, monuments and offers half-off on campground fees.

Airfares? Experts vary, but most suggest booking 60 to 90 days out, with best prices often posted on Tuesdays. Pack light and save on checked luggage. Take Uber or Lyft to the airport and save on long-term car parking fees. Skip the rental car for a week’s stay, when Uber and Lyft offer cheaper alternatives.

Meal savings? We take advantage of motel breakfasts, often dine early by sampling happy hour dishes and we split a main course and a salad, never leaving hungry.

Consider an inexpensive travel club like the Affordable Travel Club, affordabletravelclub.net; or Evergreen Travel Club, evergeenclub.com. Membership is $65 a year; when you travel you email or phone ahead a week or so, spend a night or several with one of the 3,000 members in cities and towns across the US, Canada and world; hosts offer a nice bed, breakfast in the morning and you tip them $20 on the way out the door. It beats a $140 Comfort Inn, and hosts invariably want to share their city and region’s highlights!

The Marchants of British Columbia were our first Affordable Travel Club hosts and shared a wealth of information and insight on their part of Canada.

Affordable Travel Club membership also opened the door to us to seven housesitting gigs in the last four years, at wonderful homes in Seattle (twice), Denver (twice), Tucson, St. George, Utah, and Albuquerque, NM. Free luxury travel accommodations if you have the time and don’t mind watering plants or watching over a cat or dog.

Total those savings, plot your travel plans and get traveling!

Contact Tim at tviall@msn.com; follow him at recordnet.com/travelblogHappy travels in your world!

This entry was posted in Central California, East Coast US, Hawaii, Midwest US, Mountain West (Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado), Northern California, Pacific Northwest USA (Oregon, Washington, Idaho), Sacramento/Capitol region, San Francisco Bay Area, Sierra Nevada, Southeast US, Southern California, Southwest USA (Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas), Stockton/San Joaquin County, United States beyond! and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

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