Travel today has become very competitive with travel aggregators, wholesalers, clubs and online travel agents all competing for your business. The number of “deals” out there can be overwhelming and it can be very hard to see the true deals for what they are. There is a plethora of helpful advice as well – some good and some not so good. Sometimes looking for a bargain becomes so overwhelming people give up trying to piece together their bucket list trip and end up with a canned package in the end anyway.
Most of us know of all the standard tools: Expedia, Priceline, Kayak, Trip Central, Red Tag, etc. and some people even belong to travel wholesale clubs. We will talk about aggregators and online agencies in a separate post. I want you to know that there is an undiscovered world of cheaper travel that most people have never heard of.
By Sea – Repositioning Cruises
Cruise lines operate according to the seasons and where demand is highest at points throughout the year. These cruise lines have a year-round operation to maintain while seasons are only a few months of the year or demand changes, and so they need to move their fleet. This is known as “repositioning” Some cruise ships will operate in the Caribbean over the winter or during high season but will then relocate their vessels to Europe for example during the summer months. Instead of repositioning an empty ship, they prefer to see cruises on the ship for a lower fare.
There are a few reasons why the cost is reduced for this type of cruise. One key reason is that the point of embarkation, where the cruise starts, is different from the point of disembarkation, or where it ends, requiring passengers to book one-way flights to different cities. This can increase flight costs, but this too can be mitigated with some crafty shopping. In some cases, people will use a repositioning cruise to replace a one-way ticket.
Another reason these cruises cost less is that they do not follow a typical itinerary. Where most cruises have plenty of ports of call, these repositioning ones will have more days at sea and not as much shore time. The offbeat routes that repositioning cruises take though can bring you to ports that are less known and provide new exciting opportunities to explore.
Repositioning cruises are available on both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans at different times of the year. If you are not sure that a transatlantic or transpacific cruise is for you, there are some cruises that are only 3-4 days long along the coast that you can try. There are websites dedicated to this type of cruise that you can explore to get more information or check on the various cruise line websites searching for repositioning.
By Land – Repositioning Vehicles
Repositioning is not just limited to cruises. Car companies, vehicle manufacturers and car services also need help moving vehicles around for a variety of reasons. This is called repositioning or relocating and is gaining popularity as a way to travel cheaply. There are companies who connect drivers with vehicles that need transporting, offering a free car – and sometimes a tank full of gas – in exchange for delivery. Manufacturers of recreational vehicles and campers rely on driver services to move their vehicles from their manufacturing site and deliver them to sales offices and dealers in other cities. For the person who loves a good car trip and exploring along the way this can be a great, very cheap way to vacation or just get away for a few days. All you need is a valid drives license and be 25 years or older but this varies by company. You will also need a security deposit that is refunded when you return the vehicle. The route you take is usually up to you but the trips are scheduled by the number of days allocated to the relocation. In many cases, you have the ability to add in a few more days for sightseeing and exploring.
When: Relocations are available all year long with a popular time being April and May when vehicles are relocated from Florida to the northern states or Canada. You can take trips at any time throughout the year whenever they are scheduled. When you sign up on the various sites, you can see what’s available and what is coming up. Some relocations are east coast to west coast for a fun, cross-country road trip and some are within Europe, Australia or New Zealand.
How much: The great thing about some of these relocation services is that the cost can be as little as $0 for a car including a small gas allowance. Some will have a small daily cost and nothing for gas – most include insurance and will require a deposit on the vehicle. An RV that sleeps seven people can be had for as little as $35 per day and sometimes includes personal kit for the driver and linens. You can drive and camp your way across the country from Chicago to Las Vegas for a few dollars a day, especially if you split the cost with some fellow road buddies.
There are many options now to sign up for a drive away company in the US or Canada. There are both car and RV options from Vancouver to Toronto or from either to the US. The same rules apply in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Due to the growing popularity of car relocation, there are many options for a vehicle, but here are some of the more common ones:
www.imoova.com – Canada, US, UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand
www.transfercarus.com – US and Canada
https://thriftynomads.com/rv-relocation-deals/ – US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada
http://canadadriveaway.com/cda/drivers.html – Canada and US
By Air: Flight Sharing
Flight sharing is rather like a non-commercial “Uber” of the skies. Flight sharing began with the recognition that private planes move from site to site and are often empty for half of that time. The concept was to fill that empty time with people looking to fly to the same destination and share the cost with the plane owner/pilot. This evolved into “sharing” programs that seek out additional passengers to fill available seats using collaboration sites and apps. Private pilots post their upcoming routes on a website or app where people can search for flights that match theirs. The site connects you with the pilots and/or a booking facility that looks for other passengers to share those flight costs with you.
For the most part, flight sharing seems to be aimed at short to medium haul flights, but there are a few transatlantic ones I noted. Pilots cannot make a profit from flight sharing in order to keep it non-commercial. They file their flight plan costs including fuel, oil, rental and airport fees and then split that cost with passengers. Flights on larger private planes could cost hundreds of dollars but still be much cheaper than a commercial flight, or they could be on very small planes for as low as $50.00.
Regulations for air travel are very strict (for good reason) and air-based cost sharing is just emerging in Canada, although it is now well rooted in the US and Europe. Flight sharing may not be your best option for planned vacations or tours, but if you are flexible on where you are going and able to travel on short notice you could score flights at a great cost while feeling like a rock star as you strut across the tarmac.
http://www.flightshare.com/ – registration required
https://www.flyblackbird.com/ – download the app
https://www.wingly.io/en – Europe