Saturday, November 14, 2015

Find An Affordable Vacation

by Torie Temple

Generations Riviera Maya

Luxury resorts, mountain views, the gentle mist of the ocean’s spray from waves crashing at your feet, views so breathtaking they are rarely seen outside the glossy pages of a travel magazine — this is the type of serenity we all want to escape to, but...


...time and money don’t always combine to create the perfect vacation. For most of us, exploring exotic destinations as a full-time job is only attainable while daydreaming at work. But for Louisvillian Liz Dahl, this dream was turned into a reality when she became a travel writer two years ago. In her previous public relations career and ongoing business as a travel agent, she realized there was a lack of vacation spots for baby boomers and multi-generational families. Liz writes about these sometimes overlooked destinations and stays well informed so she can give tips to start you on your journey.

Her traveling started early. This photo was taken in 1949 when Liz Dahl was not yet 2. She is traveling to America from their native Hungary. (Liz was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany after the war.)

Liz felt stale after 30 years in the PR business, but traveling is her passion. She wanted to continue her business as a travel agent, something she did on the side. “I was looking into traveling for people my age, which is baby boomers,” she says. “People in that age group called me the most, and I felt like I needed to show that there is more variety out there in the way of travel for this age group. From a marketing standpoint, advertisers use the 18-to-49 age demographic and seem to ignore other possibilities. This is what got me more involved in finding travel options.”

Liz created boomertravelpatrol.com, a website with travel tips and information that is geared toward baby boomers.

Liz recommends a visit to Morro Bay to see "The Rock" and eat some amazing fresh seafood. You can read more about her most recent trip here.

Liz’s most recent destination was central California, where she discovered hidden beauty and activities for the whole family. “Most people travel to LA or San Francisco, and the central coast often gets ignored,” she says. “But it was beautiful, laid back, and a lot cheaper than the larger cities with more to offer. On the drive from LA into the central coast on Highway One Discovery Route, you can see mountains, stunning views, and waves crashing against the rocks.”



A stop in Cayucos for more great seafood at Schooner's Wharf, followed by a visit to the Brown Butter Cookie Company, which has been featured in the NY Times, the Today Show and as one of Oprah's favorites! Then on to Cambria, for more great food and wine tasting.



Liz also just headed to Mexico, where she experienced a resort that caters to the needs of the new multi-generational travel trend. These are families — grandparents, parents, and children — that travel together looking for activities that appeal to each age group.


Generations Riviera Maya is 25 minutes from Cancun and offers something for everyone. 
“These families are looking for places other than Disney, which is great for the kids but 
exhausting to the parents and grandparents,” Liz says. “This is why places like 
Generations Riviera Maya are popping up to accommodate the entire family.”


Advice for Planning the Trip
Though these types of hidden destinations and resorts sound exciting, it isn’t always easy to get started with planning your trip. That’s where travel agents and writers like Liz can help sort out all the details. But for those who might want to make arrangements on their own, Liz has some advice.

“The toughest part of travel is finding the best air fares,” she says. “You can work deals with hotels and car rentals, but since the airlines have consolidated, travelers have fewer options and don’t have much say in the pricing. There are some helpful sites such as Expedia.com and Travelocitiy.com that you can research and compare, but when it comes to airlines, there isn’t a real trick to getting a better deal other than booking your flight at least 21 days in advance. The closer you get to your travel date, the more expensive the ticket will be. It is a matter of supply and demand. It’s just like Derby time in Louisville — if you book a year in advance, you’re going to get a decent price, but if you try and get something the week of Derby, it will cost you.”

Another trick she offers is to book a flight on a Tuesday or Thursday. Since most people want to leave during the weekend and come back on Sunday or Monday, you may be able to get a better deal booking on less traveled days.

Once you have discovered your best travel days, finding an affordable price on a hotel is as easy as a phone call. “Call the hotel directly,” Liz advises. “Don’t call the 1-800 number but the number to the hotel itself and speak with a reservations person. There is something to be said for talking to a real person. Never accept the first price because their first price is the highest price. Ask for discounts or say you found something cheaper somewhere else. The art of negotiation is lost these days.”

Think opposites when it comes to choosing the destination to get the cheapest rates. “If you want to go to Florida at Christmas or in the winter months, it will cost you more than if you went during the summer months,” Liz says. “If you’re on a budget, reverse the seasons — don’t go during peak times. In winter, people want to go where it is warm, so it costs more than if you went to a ski resort in the summer. There may not be any skiing, but there is still plenty to see.”

Of course, Liz recommends using a travel agent to help get the best deals and enhance your vacation experience. “Travel agents have experience and can give insight to the places you want to go,” she says. “Anyone can put a picture on a website and make it look good by framing it so that you don’t see the bad. Travel agents will tell you the good and the bad. We can also help get a refund if you are not happy with something while on your trip. We can be someone to fall back on.”

Liz’s final piece of advice is to make sure you do not overbook activities before you reach your destination. Pick one activity that you must do and book it in advance. Then when you arrive, you are free to explore, relax, and dream.

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