You work hard to save for that much needed vacation, so why pay more if you don’t have to? While where you are travelling to will have an effect on the overall price range of your vacation, there are still a few things you can do to get the most bang for your buck and still get the vacation you’ve always dreamed of.
Whether you are heading to the beach or ready to hit the slopes, planning your trip well in advance is going to save you significantly. If you can manage to take your vacation out of the season’s peak, that will save some money as well.
Best and Worst Times to Travel
Travel during the peak season significantly raises the overall cost of your trip. Peak season is when everyone wants to be heading to that particular destination, so it makes sense that everyone wants to charge more at this time, even though it is not very nice of them. Find out when the peak demand is for that particular area and try to avoid it unless you really want to go at that time. If you’re planning on going to Europe, check out this handy guide which explains when the best and worst times to go are. Taking flights at less-than-ideal hours of the day can also save you cash if you don’t mind taking the red-eye.
The next thing to consider is whether you are going to arrange a package holiday which is all inclusive or do-it-yourself and create your own package. This requires a fair bit of shopping around. The sooner you make your travel arrangements the more likely it is that you will find flights, hotels, and other arrangements at their lowest cost. The closer the travel date gets, the higher the price, for the most part.
You have a few options for how you would like to arrange everything and may choose to go with a travel agency online or in person or you can book your package or separate components yourself online. Each option has its strengths and weaknesses and ensuring you are aware of all the fine print is a must regardless of which option you choose.
Knowing whether or not to use a travel agency can be a tough one. Travel agencies are often thought to be a little more expensive as they take care of all the arrangements on your behalf and shop around for the best deals they can find. Travel magazines have taken a closer look at this issue and have said that travel agents are still relevant even with today’s competitive market. As agents do this every day, they are very familiar with the best times to travel and are aware of various promotions taking place. Their fee can add to the overall cost but this may be worth your while if you’d rather not have to think about all the finer details and planning on your own. Agencies will be able to offer you separate arrangements or package deals much like you can find on your own and will often try to find you the best deal for the time slot you are looking for. Using a travel agent can come in very handy when booking a skiing holiday as they arrange all of your equipment hire, lessons and lift passes for you – which may not be easy if you’re travelling to a different country with a foreign language. In addition to agents, companies like SnowTrex can help you find accommodation in the top European skiing destinations. Such companies can also be helpful in imparting tips such as in which months the snow is best. You don’t want to arrive in the mountains for a two week holiday only to find that there is no snow!
Separate travel arrangements for flights, buses, trains, hotel, food, and other details can work out to your advantage if you are willing to put some effort into tracking down all of the best deals. One drawback of this method is trying to make transportation connections all line up nicely so you are not stuck waiting around forever between connections. If this doesn’t concern you in the slightest it will be less hunting and pecking on your behalf and longer holdovers between connections can reduce the cost at times.
Another drawback with this method is that it requires a lot of research. If you are unfamiliar with the vacation area, you will have to look through a lot of reviews online to avoid ending up in a cockroach motel sharing a bed with nasty critters. Ask friends who have travelled to the same area where the best places to stay are within your budget, find great deals online and check customer satisfaction, and check for online reviews. Customers are more than happy to post negative feedback about a hotel or travel service online and it’s a reasonably good way to get a feel for the place. Keep in mind that not all reviews will be legitimate.
Read the Fine Print
If you are making your own arrangements, be sure to read all the details about what you are purchasing. Does the hotel stay include meals and drinks or is this going to cost you extra? Are there any service fees that you need to be aware of? What methods of payment are accepted? What currency is required and what is the exchange rate? Does the area accept electronic payments like credit or debit? Basically, read all the fine print carefully, ask questions if necessary, and if anything sounds off, look for something else.
All-inclusive packages can save some serious cash under the right circumstances. These, too, require that you make yourself fully aware of all the small details. What does the package include and what does it not? If some but not all meals are included, check the hotel restaurant’s prices as well as the prices at other restaurants in the area. When meals and drinks are included, what do they consist of? Is the package date set for the middle of monsoon season or some other unfavorable time? It is also important to check for service fees or extra hidden costs that will raise the price of the package sneakily.
Discount travel websites can present you with a variety of options both as packages or separate components and can be a great way of looking at various options. Many such websites exist and behave much like a travel agency but without the ability to have a face-to-face conversation and ask questions. Booking through one of these discount sites last minute can also present you with steep discounts if you are willing to take a chance or are flexible with your dates. Many of these options are presented last minute when flights or hotels don’t fill as expected or there are cancelled bookings. This is also a great way to decide last minute where you’d like to go. As long as you have the proper travel documentation, this is a good option for those who like to make a grand adventure of the entire experience.
Whether you choose to make all the arrangements yourself, work with a travel agent, or book a package deal, there are plenty of ways to get you where you want to go on a budget. The key to saving money is to plan well enough ahead in advance and do your research; that is, unless you want to fly by the seat of your pants and make the best out of last minute travel and hotel discounts. Read all fine print carefully and always reserve extra funds in case anything unforeseen should arise while you are having the time of your life.