Vacations can be fun but they can also cause a lot of stress. How am I going to afford a vacation? Where should I stay? Where should I get a plane ticket? This article will address those questions and show you how to have an affordable quality vacation on a money saving budget.
When planning a vacation, first always shop around. If possible, plan as far ahead as possible. There are many good places to look for vacations. Travel agents do a good job of planning your vacation. They can plan your hotel, plane tickets, sight seeing events, and if you need one, a rental car.
The downside with using a travel agent is that some of them are not trained well and can cause you to miss out on great deals. Make sure that you use a reputable travel agent that has good knowledge and works hard for you.
Travel agents work on a commission from the cruise lines, airlines, hotels, etc. It normally does not cost you the customer extra to use an agent. Make sure up front if there are any service fees. Great travel agents work on your behalf to watch for lower prices, special perks, and any other deals that the general public does not always see.
My wife and I like to go on a cruise in the summer. I have always bought either online from a discount site or directly from the cruise line. This past summer, I discovered that certain travel agents offer some perks that does not increase the price but offers a savings. We booked directly from Royal Caribbean while on our last cruise but discovered that we could switch the cruise to a travel agent for no additional cost. We take a shuttle to our cruise port which cost $90 per person. The same shuttle company also is a travel agent and we discovered that they offer the shuttle free when we switched to them. An instant savings of $180 for the two of us.
I still do my own research but that sold me on the benefits of a travel agent. Win-win for everyone. The cruise line encourages the use of a travel agent, the agent makes money, and the customer saves money.
Direct from the Company
Another way to plan your vacation is to call airlines and hotels directly to book your vacation. This way gives you the most flexibility but also cost the most. The airlines charge more when buying direct and they increase their prices the closer you are to the travel date. Hotels charge more on weekends, holidays, and summers and they do not offer many discounts if you call them directly. Normal common sense would think you would get a better deal by cutting out the middle man but this is not the case when booking a vacation. This method is the least favorite way to use if you are frugal and looking for a money saving vacation.
The exception to this rule is cruises. If you cruise often, the very best deal you will find is when you book your next cruise while you are on a cruise. This is the lowest price available and often includes extra discounts if you book right now. As I mentioned earlier, you can later switch to a travel agent if they offer any perks or if you want them to monitor special offers or lowered prices. To be honest, my agent did none of this but I check often for myself and I went with that agent to save the shuttle fee.
Cruises are the same price no matter who you book with, the only difference is the perks. However, price do sometimes lower. Be sure to keep an eye on the prices. Look for future post where I go in-depth on money saving ideas for cruises.
Still another way to plan you vacation is through the Internet. This is the total do it yourself method of vacation planning. You can search hotels, airlines, events, and car rentals for the area you are planning to visit. This can be fun and if you are lucky, you can find a real frugal deal. The Internet puts the world at your fingertips However, if you are not careful, you can end up paying more than you would have by just using a travel agent.
The one of advantage of do it yourself searching is that you can plan the exact way you want your vacation set and can keep the schedule as tight as you would like. The disadvantage is that the less flexible you are and the more picky you are, the more money it will cost you.
The final method I will discuss for planning your vacation is a combination of the travel agent and the Internet. This method is using an online discount vacation broker. There are many of these sites and more are being added each year. One of the oldest and my personal favorite is Priceline. This is the one my family uses for almost all of our vacation needs. Priceline offers money saving at its finest.
Priceline offers discount airplane tickets, discount hotel rooms, discount car rentals, and discount cruises. If you have some flexibility in your time schedule, you can name your own prices on hotel and plane tickets for discount at 50% or more off retail prices. Priceline also offers the convenience of full travel agents by designing vacation packages to meet your needs.
For the frugal minded people like all of us, Priceline is a one stop shopping site for all you vacation needs. If you just want to get away for a weekend drive, name your own price for the hotel room and you can save up to 60% off retail price. Want just the plane ticket? Name your own price and you can save tons of money off other discount sites. If you need a full vacation package, they allow you to pick your hotel, plane tickets, and rental car and you can add on airport pick-up and sightseeing tickets to make a well rounded well planned out complete vacation.
The downside of these type of sites is that often times you have to prepay and there are cancellations unless you buy travel insurance. The other downside is that if you name your own price or do an express deal, you get what you get for a hotel.
I went on a mini vacation by myself last year and I got a great deal. It was winter so my requirement was an indoor pool and a nice eating place right in the hotel. When I got to the hotel, that stated it had a nice Irish pub and an indoor pool, the hotel was being renovated and the pool was closed and the pub had been totally removed. It was a total disappointment. I called Priceline on my return from my trip and after negotiations, they refunded half the cost.
Take the money stress out of vacation planning by using the best method for you to save the most. There is nothing wrong with being frugal, a cheapskate, or thirty when it comes to your hard earned money.
These are just a few of the methods that can be used to save money when planning a vacation. Please comment if you have used any of these or you have other methods to save money when vacation planning.
Peace out till next post!