By Constance Gustke
To lure people out of staycation mode, the tourism industry is offering discounts that are the best in decades, says Anne Banas, executive editor at Smarter Travel Media, in Boston. Before the holidays, airline ticket prices were down an average of 23 percent versus the previous year, hotel room rates had dipped 10.2 percent, and package tours were 20 percent lower than in 2008. And they're throwing in freebies: Hotels and tour operators frequently offer sweeteners like spa treatments, free meals, or extra nights.
How to Get the Most for Your Money
While everybody is discounting, low-cost airlines like Southwest, JetBlue, AirTran, and Spirit continue to offer deals on flights that beat the big competitors. But remember: You must monitor fees or they could end up eating up any savings. Some airlines have increased charges for checking bags, others for pets and unaccompanied minors, says Banas. Before booking, go to kayak.com, which has information about airline fees. Also, assess component parts of package tours at dealbase.com to make sure you're really getting a bargain.