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Stretch your travel dollars with these tips

My parents put the travel bug in me. Mom was a travel agent and Pops routinely spoke at conferences around the world. As kids, my brother and I were lucky to get to tag along regularly as many of those keynote presentations turned into really good excuses for family trips. But for those of us who aren't travel agents, or aren't married to one, it doesn't hurt to try and find other ways to maximize our travel dollars.

The first thing we can do is look for destinations in which our dollars go further. For example, the Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel in Malaysia is a five-star hotel. Right now you can bag a deluxe room for $99 (Canadian) per night, as long as you stay for a minimum of two days. That also includes an hour-long massage and about $33 in food and beverage credits.

But while it may be cheaper once you get there, you need to figure out how much it is going to cost you just to get there in the first place. Currently, a return ticket to Malaysia is just north of $1,000 (and that's before all the various taxes and fees that no one understands, which jack airline ticket prices up considerably). Going to Malaysia may make a lot of sense, from an overall daily average price of your trip, if you go for an extended period of time.

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We can also try to take advantage of recent price trends. puts out a regular report on hotel price trends across the globe and it noted that prices in Reykjavik fell by 14 per cent year over year for the second quarter of 2010. One can assume that the volcanic ash cloud had something to do with this. It's also worth pointing out that the survey was calculating figures in pounds sterling. The loonie appreciated against the pound during this time frame, so that's another bonus.

The survey also said that Warsaw had some of the best five-star hotel prices in Europe - averaging roughly $115 per night (based on current exchange rates). Flights to Poland (before the unexplainable fees and taxes) are below $500. In fact, I looked up a flight and hotel package for seven days and six nights, return, staying at The Westin in Warsaw: $1,203.50, including fees and taxes per person. With date flexibility, and opting for a sub-five-star hotel, I'm sure you could bring that under $1,000.

With a global recession and the loonie gaining ground on many currencies around the world, a little bit of math may reveal that some travel destinations are more "on sale" than we realize. Suddenly I have a craving for pierogies.

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About the Author
Personal Finance columnist

Preet Banerjee is a consultant to the financial services industry. You can follow him on twitter at  @PreetBanerjee. You can find his conflict of interest disclosure on his website. More

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