So you have decided to take the plunge and finally take that vacation you have been dreaming of. Good for you! Remember you only regret the trips that you don’t take.
Here are my top 5 tips on how to travel well and still stay on budget!
1. Find a great travel agent
This might seem like a no brainer to some of you, but the single best thing you can do to save money on a trip is to find a great travel agent. You see travel agents are experts at finding good deals and many times have special insights into hotels and tour packages that you might not find by doing an internet search. By using a travel agent you also save the time it takes to sift through all the different sites trying to sell you essentially the same thing. Let’s not forget that time is money. The best news is that using a travel agent is free! Travel agents make commissions from their sales and those commissions are paid by the vendors NOT you. A good travel agent will quickly learn your travel preferences and be able to line up a vacation that not only fits within your budget but is tailor made for you.
2. Travel all inclusive
The truth is that although the price of all inclusive resorts is higher you are saving a lot of money by not having to pay for everything out of pocket. Most of your vacation money usually goes to drinks and dining, but what if that is already covered ahead of time? That’s where the all inclusive concept comes in. It is a lot easier to budget for your trip ahead of time if the trip cost already includes food and beverages. Does this mean you can never leave the resort and explore on your own? Of course not, but the cost of one or two meals out of the resort will be minimal compared to having to pay for all your meals and drinks out of pocket. This also allows you to travel with less cash on hand.
3. Fly midweek and travel during the off season
This is really two points in one, but they go hand in hand. After booking many reservations this is one thing that remains true for most destinations. On average you can find cheaper flights if you are willing to fly in the middle of the week. Your travel agent will know this and will usually steer you in this direction if you have a semi flexible travel schedule. Keep this in mind when requesting that vacation time at work! Many people will look at booking a trip from Friday to Friday, but this really limits your airfare possibilities. The off season will vary depending on your destination. Again, if you have a great travel agent they will know what the off season is for the particular trip you are interested in. Travelling during the off season saves you money on airfare, hotel, and tours. Depending on your destination, travelling during the off season can save you anywhere from 30-60%! That is a lot of money that you can put back into your vacation or save for your next trip.
4. Enjoy the free activities and amenities offered to you
Don’t feel like you have to take every paid tour and buy every souvenir that is offered to you. Most hotels will have several free amenities and activities even if they are not all inclusives. You don’t need to go everywhere with a guide to have a great vacation. Venture out on your own and you will have a much cheaper and often more exciting day of exploring. Most places will have local taxis that are knowledgeable and more than happy to take you where you want to go. Make sure you are negotiating the price for the trip upfront. The exception to this in my rule book is destinations where it is not safe to explore on your own. Your travel agent can advise you further on this depending on where you are going.
5. Take a cruise
Taking a cruise is one of the best ways to get the most out of your budget. Not only are cruises cheap, but they allow you to go to some of the most exclusive destinations without breaking the bank. Your cruise will include all of your meals and you can add on packages to include alcohol if you wish. Alcohol on a cruise is priced pretty competitively with most restaurants in the US so unless you are a big drinker I don’t usually advise purchasing the extra package as you most likely won’t use as much as you spent. Cruises also have the advantage of having on board entertainment and extras such as on board credit to spend depending on when and for how long you book. In general you can get the best cruise deals by planning ahead and booking 6+ months in advance. Cruise lines will sometimes run special deals that include discounts on 2nd, 3rd, and 4th guests and other freebies. A good travel agent can advise you when these promotions are happening so that you don’t miss out!
There are many more tips and tricks that I would love to share with you, but I cannot stress enough the importance of having a knowledgeable travel professional on your speed dial. I hope this has encouraged you to take that first step into booking your next travel destination. I would love to answer any questions you might have, and to help you book the vacation of your dreams.
Until next time!