Peter Greenberg’s Tips for Budget Travel

The ‘Today’ show travel editor reveals industry secrets and handy tips for finding the best deals when traveling on a budget during economic down times.

Traveling during a recession? According to NBC’s Today show travel editor and New York Times best-selling author Peter Greenberg, there’s no better time!

by Peter Greenberg. Rodale, 2009; $9.95.

Peter Greenberg’s budget travel guide reveals the industry secrets that airlines, hotels, cruise ships and rental car companies don’t want you to know. Or do they?

As someone who has cut back spending in several areas of my life during this economic downturn, I still can’t seem to cut back on travel. Perhaps it’s because my family still lives on the other coast. But I also believe it’s because the thought of not being able to travel seems like a punishment for circumstances out of my control. So, if nothing else, I’m continuing, because I refuse to be a victim of this slump! And that is why this particular travel book is so timely and a hugely important book to come out right now.


Tough Times, Great Travels is brimming with travel budget tips for getting the most out of travel these days. Instead of building up his book by telling you the economy is in a slump, he assumes we’re smart enough to know that and cuts right to the chase.

The first chapter, Airlines and Airfares,” reveals that Wednesday morning (Tuesday night) at 12:01 a.m. in the time zone where the airline’s hub is located, is the best time to buy airline tickets. Learn about cheap travel deals like “secret flights”—unusual routes that are less publicized, but offered at low prices. Would you have thought to travel from Los Angeles to Heathrow on Air New Zealand? Me neither. He discusses the most and least expensive airports to fly out of and touches on the truth behind airline mileage programs.

In Affordable Accommodations,” Greenberg tells readers that the best time to book a hotel stay when traveling on a budget is Sunday afternoon, around 4 p.m. local time. That’s when revenue managers are off work and you can negotiate a better rate! He also talks about best times to travel and the most affordable places to stay. The word “monastery” will take on a whole different meaning if you’re looking for an inexpensive stay outside of Sofia, Bulgaria. The Rila Monastery will run you a whopping $15 a night.

I never even knew that a regular passenger could take a cruise on a cargo ship. It may not be as glamorous as a Royal Caribbean sailing, but Greenberg says it has become an affordable way to see the world—if you’ve got the time.

Great Tips

The book addresses little-known travel discount tips, the best travel deals, ins and outs of renting a car, train and bus travel, shoulder and off-season travel, dining on a budget, places where your currency can stretch the farthest and the best credit cards to take with you on a trip. There is valuable information on passports and luggage, including a tip on luggage you can actually wear!

There’s a chapter on family travel too—a sweet spot for me. Who knew Club Med sometimes offers travel deals with free airfare? I’ll have to look into that one. Greenberg shares city-by-city tourist discount cards and devotes a chapter to free activities, which includes information on cities with self-service bike rentals—the best one being in Paris, according to the author.

My favorite section was One-Tank Trips.” Greenberg really thought these trips through—he offers a multitude of road trips you can manage on one tank of gas. He covers trips for 19 states, including things for you to do or see between point A and point B. Take Utah, for instance; when you drive from Salt Lake City to Ogden Valley, you can stop at the Holy Trinity Abbey or visit the Park City Mountain Resort, home of the world’s first “green” roller coaster. The ride is “completely silent and powered by gravity.” Cool. Or visit Antelope Island State Park before you catch the Ogden Valley Balloon and Arts Festival.


None. At least none that I could find.

Worth Buying?

If you’re on an economic downturn budget and are allowed to buy only one book all month, it should be this one. I loved it! It’s no wonder he has the credentials he does. Greenberg’s subtle (and sometimes not-too-subtle) sarcasm makes this book a humorous and enjoyable read. His philosophy on luggage: There are only two kinds of airline bags—carry-on and lost. I think Tough Times is worth reading before and during any future trips.

It’s a buyer’s market for travel, so get your tickets now.

Themes: Family Travel, Cruises

Activities: Sightseeing, Sleep