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On a Budget

A Roundup of Offbeat Ways to Save Some Cash

November 25, 2001|ARTHUR FROMMER

Just when it seems that we've exhausted our inventory of money-saving travel tips, new ones come to mind. Here are some gems:

* You can travel to the Caribbean or one of several Mexican resorts from the West Coast for $225 round trip, if you permit the AirTech organization to choose the destination and your departure date (within a four-day time frame specified by you). Better known for its flexible flights to Europe, AirTech maintains a less publicized program serving 20 major Caribbean islands. If your sole aim is to fly to a tropical island and you don't care where you alight, AirTech is for you. And though your departure date is flexible, the return flight is guaranteed exactly one week later. Call AirTech at (212) 219-7000 or check for details.

* Using a Sun Country Airlines MasterCard for your daily household expenditures will earn you a mile for each dollar spent, without incurring an annual fee. Sun Country serves New York, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., from Los Angeles. Many other airline cards issue mileage for their use, but they charge annual fees as high as $90; though you can often earn a free round-trip flight through normal use of their cards, you have incurred fees in doing so.

Call (800) FLY-N-SUN (359-6786) or access to apply for a Sun Country card.

* The Web site represents several university residence halls in London and other major British cities that offer single rooms during the summer averaging less than $32--an unbeatable value. They might not be luxurious, but even the most basic rooms include everything you really need--a bed, a desk and access to a bathroom. The rooms are cleaned daily and usually include breakfast.

* A new Web site called TravelChums (, operated by Shaw Guides Inc., helps younger travelers to find travel companions and thus share costs and avoid single-room supplements. Though it lacks the personal service of the longer-established Travel Companion Exchange, it appears to cater to a younger clientele than TCE and has already acquired more than 9,000 members.

* Many art galleries in large cities promote their exhibitions by offering bountiful free receptions on Friday evenings, serving fare that ranges from wine and cheese to full-meal buffets (with hot dishes, vegetable trays, desserts, pastries and fruit). On arriving in town, scan the weekend section of the major local newspaper for art gallery announcements that sometimes include the words "free opening reception."

* People who want to vacation at the remarkable Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas (, but who can't afford the luxury rates, can book a room at the much cheaper Comfort Suites ( directly across the street and get free use of all public facilities (beach, pool, aquarium and so forth) at the Atlantis.

* When you have several hours between flights, go to the curb and jump on the first free shuttle to any major airport-area hotel; the food there will be better and possibly cheaper than at the airport, and the surroundings a change of pace. Sooner than you think, it will be time to hop back on the shuttle for the return to the terminal and your next flight.

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