Money-saving Travel Tips for Tacoma 2013 or anytime!
by Richard Davis, 2013 Host Committee Co-Chair, Clinton, WA
Discount Airfare Web Sites
Have you heard of Kayak, Bing, and Airfarewatchdog? Kayak (www.kayak.com) shows hundreds of airfares from all major carriers to your destination (but not discount carriers such as Southwest or Jetblue). Bing (www.bing.com/travel) has a feature that helps you predict when to buy an airfare to a particular city. Airfarewatchdog (www.airfarewatchdog.com) sends you email alerts of low fares customized (a bit) to destinations of your choice, which is Seattle/Tacoma, of course! When using these discount clearinghouse sites you’ll need to be ready to snap up a good deal because they disappear quickly.
Other Airline Tips
Did you know Southwest (www.southwest.com) still checks bags for free, saving you at least $50 for one bag roundtrip. And if Alaska Airlines (www.alaskaair.com) serves your city, get their occasional specials sent right to your email IN box by signing up for their newsletter or having Airfarewatchdog notify you (SeaTac is a major hub of Alaska Airlines). Generally, you have a six-month period in which to look for a good airfare, so your search should begin in late October or early November for April. As of this writing, fares from Boston to Tacoma 6 months from now range from $293 without checked bags to more than $700 in economy.
Bellingham airport (a 2.5 hour direct drive to Tacoma) is served by low cost carrier Allegiant and a few Alaska flights. You can take a bus (2hr and 40 min ride) from this airport to SeaTac airport for $60 roundtrip for a public bus connection to Tacoma Consider if the hassle is worth the price of a low airfare.
Transportation To/From Airports
Public transportation to and from the airport is an inexpensive option. If you choose to drive and park your car at the airport you may want to consider staying at an airport motel before your flight. Many airport motels offer a “sleep & park” rate (one night’s sleep with a 7days park), which is often the same or less than just parking in airport lots. Staying near the airport allows you to take advantage of the usually cheaper airfares available on first flights of the day. Major city airports generally have better connections (and fewer locks on fares) than smaller airports, so if you’re traveling from a smaller town the “sleep & park” option in the nearest major city might serve you well (www.tripadvisor.com) can help with motel selection near your airport of choice).
Transportation Around Tacoma/Seattle
If you not planning on doing any out of city exploring you won’t need a car, as both Tacoma and Seattle downtowns are easily walkable and have bus service (Seattle bus service info: metro.kingcounty.gov, Tacoma bus service info: www.piercetransit.org . If you are staying a few extra days to explore outside the city proper, you will need a car. Sites like Hotwire (www.hotwire.com) or Priceline (www.priceline.com) are great resources for low rental car rates. If you rent a car in Tacoma rather than at SeaTac airport, you won’t be charged airport pickup & drop off fees & airport taxes. Tax on rental cars: 17% in Tacoma, 19.5% in Seattle.