Previously, I posted my Seven Tips For Frequent Road Warriors. Here are seven more tips for the empty nester traveling to visit their kids at school.
Tip 1: Ask the hotels you are considering if they offer a university discount. Also, check with the university to see if they are aware of any specials or deals you can get from local hotels. Sometimes, you can get a special rate during big event weekends at hotels a little farther away from campus.
Tip 2: When planning to take what seems to be a great hotel offer, don’t forget to dig deeper to see if there are hidden costs that may make this great deal less than desirable. We found this out when we emailed a Providence hotel for availability on some dates we are going to be in the area to see our daughter play soccer. The dates we wanted were available, so my husband called to give our information and confirm our booking. As almost an after thought, he inquired about parking. This hotel is in a big city after all. And there it was, the $28.00 a day parking fee. Well, that put this hotel right back on par with where we usually stay and get a university discount rate. We also get “frequent sleeper” credit at our usual place, so we decided against the beautiful downtown hotel for the visit we will make by car. However, we booked the Providence hotel for the game we are flying in for since the hotel offers a shuttle service we can use to get where we need to go.
Tip 3: As I mentioned, we are members of a hotel chain’s customer loyalty program or frequent sleeper club. If you know you are going to be taking a lot of trips, it is worth signing up for one. Then, of course, you will want to stay in that “family” of hotels as often as possible. We have had a lot of success with this little travel perk. For our last long weekend stay, two of our three nights were covered by our points or sleeper credit.
Tip 4: Likewise, it is beneficial to look into rental car loyalty clubs and look into what the different levels offer. Our “Gold Club” status at Hertz allowed me to be a driver of our rental car as well, without any additional fees or paperwork.
Tip 5: Look for airline and/or rental car discount codes on travel and/or destination “Fan” sites, such as FlyerTalk.com or any of the Disney fan sites. Also, be sure to check directly with the airlines, as many offer special discounts for booking early and/or online bookings. Likewise, if you are planning to fly Southwest Airlines, check occasionally to see if a cheaper fare for your flight is available. If so, you can seek to credit your account with the difference either by phone or online.
Tip 6: Hotels and universities may also offer discounts at restaurants and local attractions. We enjoyed a surprise 10% off our brunch when visiting our son. We didn’t think to ask, but the nice waitress, noticing that all three of us were wearing the college logo shirts, asked if Alex was a student there. Since he was, we got the discount.
Tip 7: Speaking of school spirit wear, it’s always fun to hit the campus bookstore. There always seems to be a clearance rack or a section with reasonably priced t-shirts. So, if you want to show your school/team pride, you can do so, even on a budget.
Safe travels and may the journey be as rewarding as the destination.