Welcome to the latest installment of the "Save, Splurge, Steal" interview series. Getting great value when I travel is always such a fun challenge for me and I love to learn how other people get the best possible experience for their available time and money. I'm asking pro travelers to share their expertise and I hope you enjoy their responses as much as I do!
Meet Kim Rielly from Lake Placid's Office of Sustainable Tourism
Kim Rielly is the communications director for the Lake Placid Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism, the destination marketing organization responsible for promoting the Adirondack Park in upstate New York. She’s been in marketing for over 20 years (!), now works with a lot of travel bloggers and currently writes her own blogs for 7 regional websites as well as writing about destination marketing for business.
1 How do you save money in order to travel?
Save? That would be a good idea, but I’m no good at saving. I’m very fortunate that my company takes money out of my paycheck and puts it into my retirement fund without my seeing it. At least I hope that’s what is happening.
I set deadlines. It’s how I roll at work, so it’s a way of life for me. Ideally, I’ll be forced to fork out a down payment at time of reservation way ahead, so it’s like a bonus when we actually go on vacation when the lodging, at least, is already paid for!
2 Everyone needs to splurge now and then. Describe a time when you blew your budget and it was worth every penny.
Ever since the invention of credit cards, the concept of a budget seems to have become a bit “flexible” for me. I think that when I’m on vacation, I assume that I’m going to splurge.
I think splurging is subjective, though. Typically, my husband and I like to do many of the things we do at home in the Adirondacks; hike, bike, paddle, tour on our motorcycles; all of which are basically free adventures. So we’re accidentally frugal when traveling. (Note that we never mind splurging on craft beers and seafood.)
In response to this question, though, the first instance that came to mind was a time that I was in New York City for a week with a friend, and though we definitely planned to see at least one Broadway show, we ended up seeing several. Some of the tickets were eye-openingly expensive, but when your hotel concierge finds two front row seats within spitting distance of Nathan Lane, you just say yes.
3 There’s nothing like a bargain - name your favorite great steal of a deal.
About a hundred years ago when my husband and I had just started dating, we decided to go to Disney World for our first vacation together. I had been there several times over the years, but not really as an “adult”. Anyway, we left right after Thanksgiving dinner, driving the whole way south from New York. At the time, we stayed at an inexpensive flag hotel, and got tickets to the attractions from one of those street kiosks that can be found everywhere in the Orlando area. All of this was fairly inexpensive.
The greatest “deal”, though, was in the timing. It’s probably no secret anymore but there were NO LINES at Disney World and Epcot the week after U.S. Thanksgiving. We walked around the parks freely, as if Moses had parted the crowds just for us to have an exclusive tour of Space Mountain.
4 What tips do you have for a traveler to get the best value for their money?
It’s my job to provide information to the media and leisure travelers about Lake Placid and our Adirondack destinations. But although that increases exposure for the destination for sure, I realize that the average consumer doesn’t want to hear about travel tips from Kim the destination rep or the AP. Third party validation doesn’t come from the traditional media anymore. It comes from your friends and THEIR friends.
Best tip that you already know: Check TripAdvisor, Yelp, and ask your friends. Get the skinny from real people who have been there and have no stake in the promotion of a hotel, restaurant or attraction. Social media and crowd sourcing; this is the internet at its best.
Other tip: Research and plan. Check to see what events are happening during your intended stay. For Lake Placid, N.Y. for instance, you won’t want to visit during the last bit of July. That’s when the annual Ironman Lake Placid event occurs, with 4 night minimum stays and no room availability.
Other, other tip: Check for value-added packaging. Really. Once you know that you like and trust a certain lodging property because your friends recommend it, check the destination website to see if there are deals that include stuff like dinner for two, champagne in the room or attraction tickets along with the room.
If you happen to be friends with the communications director at a destination - that’s a bonus for insider tips and tricks, too. :)
5 Time is valuable too - how do you make every moment count?
It’s impossible to make every moment count. You can certainly try, though.
I have recently tried to embrace the concept of meditation. In theory, if you’re AWARE of the moment and your surroundings, and present rather than distracted, you’ll experience life as it happens, as opposed to either looking forward or backward at those experiences.
Unfortunately, I’m not very good at meditation, as it requires sitting still and paying attention. But the theory isn’t lost on me, and I do find that I better appreciate moments like that perfect, sunny day on the beach on Hilton Head looking out at the ocean and its seemingly infinite scale; the views from a rock climbing route on the Needles in South Dakota or Red Rocks in Nevada; the taste of that hoppy IPA we found at a pub in the middle of the woods on an island off the coast of Maine; and the smell of the pine needles that blanket the hiking trails at home in the Adirondacks.
I find that if I can better appreciate the moment while it’s happening, the lasting memory of that moment remains clear and crisp, too. And now I’m thinking about that IPA again…
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